Dear Dr. Peirano,
i am totally desperate. I'm 24, a medical assistant and not happy with my weight. In particular, I find my bottom and hips too wide and my face too big and doughy.
Three months ago I was at a party with friends and saw a woman (Nadia) who simply has everything. She is slim, has a really good figure, beautiful face, great styling. And everyone in the club took notice of her.
We got talking and exchanged numbers because a friend of mine knew her from before. I then found her on Instagram and at first it was just curiosity and interest. But now I spend a total of hours every day in front of her profile and I think that she has such a great life. I know it's idiotic.
She travels a lot, is always in cool cities or on the beach. She's always out with friends, everyone looks good and is having fun. She also seems to have a lot of money, otherwise she couldn't live like this and style herself like this. Your apartment is really nice, in the middle of Munich.
And I'm sitting in the doctor's office, my boss keeps making us work overtime, it's super cold in the office because of Corona and two colleagues are really bitchy. And I earn very badly. I don't like myself and quite often I think: Why does she have everything while I have almost nothing? Sometimes I don't do anything with friends on the weekends because many of them have also moved away and other friends already have partners and only spend time with them.
It gets me so down that I don't even know what to do. I've been thinking about contacting her to get to know her better. But somehow I'm also afraid that I'm inferior to her. That would piss me off even more.
it sounds like you are not at all happy with your life right now. A lot of work for little money, in an environment that is not as friendly and appreciative as you would like. In addition, there is dissatisfaction with your own appearance and your circle of friends. That also sounds very exhausting and gray right now, and I can imagine that you don't see any perspective at the moment.
And then a woman catches your eye who seems to have everything: good looks, friends, money, variety, travel... She seems to float through life and everything seems to come easily and effortlessly to her. I can understand that it's hard not to be jealous.
I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. In my PhD, I researched the relationship between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.
Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.
Do you have questions, problems or lovesickness? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.
For many people, social networks in particular are a source of tormenting feelings such as envy, feelings of inferiority or the fear of missing out (Fear of Missing Out = FOMO). No wonder, because e.g. on Facebook or Instagram you only see the perfectly staged facade of the people, and some really go to great lengths to appear as if everything is perfect and glamorous.
Some people who value the approval and admiration of others are bound to have a degree of narcissism. You need applause and applause to feel yourself and to feel meaningful.
The book: "Female Narcissism. The Hunger for Recognition" by Bärbel Wardetzki can help you to look a little deeper here.
I'm only saying that because you don't know how Nadia really lives. It may be that she really is as happy as she makes herself out to be. But it may just as well be that she is also subject to many constraints: to be the most beautiful, to be slim, to have to be in the right place at the right time, maybe not to get enough "likes" or "followers". Being subject to such self-imposed compulsions can be very stressful. Feelings of happiness usually come from doing something really meaningful, from being in good contact with yourself or helping and supporting other people.
In any case, your involvement with Nadia also has two major advantages for you. First, you deal very intensively with yourself by comparing yourself. This will bring your dissatisfaction to light, and I think that's a good (albeit painful) step for now.
And secondly, because of your involvement with Nadia, you feel a great deal of envy. We psychologists also see this as a welcome feeling. Because envy shows us how we would like to be ourselves and thus shows us the direction in which we can change.
If I'm jealous of a friend who sings so well, I could take care of my own musicality. And I could also be honest with myself: the girlfriend must have done a lot to sing so beautifully. Let's be honest: Do I want to invest the time, too, or do I wish that the beautiful voice would just fall to me? With the latter, you could work on your discipline...
Maybe I'm not jealous of the beautiful singing, but that my girlfriend has such a supportive circle of friends. This realization is the first step towards change!
Envy is a feeling that many do not admit to themselves. But unlike resentment, it is an encouraging and therefore positive feeling. Envy means: someone has something that I would also like to have (but still don't begrudge my girlfriend her beautiful voice or her friends).
On the other hand, when someone feels resentment and doesn't want to give someone a good thing, I have a kind of resentment or hostility that closes me off and poisons my relationships. Who would want to be friends with someone who can't give you good things?
I would advise you to say to yourself every time you engage with Nadia: It's not about her. It's about me
Working with Nadia has already taken the first step towards realizing what is imbalanced in your life. Therefore, I advise you to log out of Instagram or block their profile. It is best to write in a diary and think five times a day what would do you good at that moment. Also, each day, write down five positive things that you already have in your life. That helps a lot with comparing.
Perhaps a mediation course would also help you to establish better contact with yourself. For example, you can listen to initial mediations via the "7 Mind" app or attend courses online, the costs of which are even covered by health insurance companies.
Imagine this scenario: you meet Nadia again in a few years, and you are so pleased with yourself that Nadia's good shape, your friends, and your travels don't throw you off one bit. Only you have found your very own way of being happy. No matter how this species looks on Instagram.
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