Blogging about yoga for a quiet mind got me thinking about the things that make our minds unquiet. All kinds of beliefs, assumptions, fears and insecurities keep us on edge, waiting for something to change before we can be at peace.
Comparison is one of the big underlying reasons we feel these emotions. It’s a burly taproot, nourishing the small, leafy anxieties of daily life.
From the moment we’re born people compare us – are we cuter, happier, quicker to walk or talk than other babies?
When we go to school, our achievements are compared to others. Whatever we do, from sport to dating, is a basis for comparison. Instead of discovering our intrinsic worth, we are taught our value lies in out-doing someone else.
Comparison is a happiness killer. It dulls our self-confidence and stops us from having whole-hearted relationships. It is a tough habit to break but these three steps can help eliminate comparisons and open you to a richer, happier life.
Tune into the soundtrack in your head
The first thing you have to do to stop comparison is to become aware of what you’re doing. We all have a running mental soundtrack. We are so used to constantly judging other people, and ourselves, that it is almost reflexive. If a colleague gets a promotion, your first impulse might be to feel envious, or insecure that you weren’t chosen. When you consciously examine this thought, you realise that actually they are going to have a lot more work, and that they have totally different experience. Their status is not a reflection on you.
Someone is always better off than you, and someone is always worse off. Comparison keeps us tugging back and forth between envy and pride, if we let it. Gratitude helps us take a different course. When we make a conscious decision to think about and appreciate the blessings we have – health, friends, hobbies, food, shelter, and so much more – we don’t feel the need to compare ourselves to others. We may not have everything, but we have an abundance.
Practice non-judgmental yoga
Yoga can easily lure us into comparing our practice, postures or bodies with others. This makes it a great opportunity to work on new ways of thinking. To practice non-judgmental yoga, ground yourself in the breath. Focus your whole energy on the movement within your own body. Observe the way your chest rises and falls, the connection of muscles and bones. If you need to, slow down from your regular pace to really concentrate. Gradually, with time, you will find it easier to sink into your own practice instead of getting lured into comparison.