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The Comparison Trap~Have You Been There?

Have you ever found yourself on the hamster wheel of comparison? If so, how did you get off?

Getting on that wheel is so very easy. Getting off? Not so much. It's the "stuff" that you push down, usually from our past and/or childhood, but at just the right time (or not) it rears back up. It can cause you to doubt yourself before you even realize what's happening.

Before I ever took my first yoga class, I compared my abilities (or what I considered lack of) to all those yoga pictures I had ever seen. Those young, super thin, extremely flexible (likely hyper-mobile) yogis; with their foot or feet behind their head, doing the perfect split, and other shapes that my body has never been in and likely never will. I thought I couldn't "do" yoga because "I would have to be able to do that". I didn't know that yoga is a practice, that meets us where we are today. I didn't know that I was right where "I" am meant to be. That if my feet never went behind my head, or I never in my life do a split; that's okay!

When I started teaching yoga, I jumped on that wheel again. And let me tell you, I was running full steam ahead!! I compared myself to my teacher. It probably didn't help that my teacher I started practicing yoga with and EVERYONE loves, was my YTT (yoga teacher training) teacher. When I had to teach for my first practice teach, I prayed and prayed that she would not be the person to facilitate my teaching. I just knew she would say to herself and maybe even me "what have I taught you all these years, you haven't learned a thing". I got lucky and she was not my facilitator, that time...but the next time, she was. How could I ever measure up? Could I ever teach like she does? Will I ever be that good? What was I thinking, this teaching yoga?

I got over that, most days. Then came good old 2020! The pandemic, the quarantine. It was time to teach online! WTH? Who was I to think I could do that? But I had to make a decision; pivot or stop teaching. So try, I did. And here we are. Somedays are better than others, but I'm getting there. Just like yoga is a practice, and we progress, I am a work in progress and continue to progress.

Comparison is not the best thing you can do for yourself. There are pitfalls. Below is a list of some.

Some Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Others:

It is a sure fire way to reduce your confidence, motivation, and self-esteem. I guess it is natural to make these types of comparisons, because nearly everyone does it. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. If you want to become your best self, avoid comparing yourself to others, as best you can.

There are several things to consider when you compare yourself to someone else:

  • Everyone has a different starting point. You might be learning to play golf, but your friend has been playing for 10 years. You might be interested in playing basketball, but you’re only 5-feet tall (that's me with shoes on, lol) and your friend is 18 inches taller than you are. You might be walking or Zooming into your first yoga class and the person next to you has been practicing for 20 years. You can’t compare progress, results, or success unless the starting points are the same, and they never are.

  • Everyone has a different level of talent. Some people are born with a high IQ. Some people naturally have amazing hand-eye coordination. Others have a natural knack for music or math. Again, different starting points.

  • The resources available to you and another person may be different. If you want to play the violin and your father is a wealthy concert violinist, you have a huge advantage over someone born into a financially-challenged family that has no experience in music.

  • We tend to compare ourselves to the best in the world. You don’t compare your Texas Hold’em skills to your neighbor the electrician. You compare yourself to the tournament winners. We don’t compare ourselves to the average. We compare ourselves to the best the world has to offer.

  • Most likely there will always someone better. There are only a handful of people that can make a reasonable claim to being the best at anything. There are nearly eight billion people in the world. That’s a lot of people you have to surpass to be the best. It’s easy to see why making comparisons can be dangerous. There’s little to gain and too much risk. Comparing yourself to others doesn’t provide useful information. You’re only going to upset yourself, and that type of comparison isn’t fair in the first place.

Here’s a few things you can do instead:

Compare yourself to yourself. Pay attention to your progress over time. Notice and acknowledge your improvement. As long as you’re making headway, you have a good reason to be excited! Strive to become better each day.

  • Limit your exposure to social media (boy is that a hard one, especially in this time). In theory, social media exists to connect people. In actuality, social media is often used as a way of showing off (in my case seeing the "famous Insta-Yogis). You rarely get the real story. What you get is someone’s best attempt to make their life look better than it really is. Everyone, except you, seems to be living a spectacular life. It’s not true. Be cautious with social media. Most people report being happier when they removed social media from their lives. Have you tried this? If so, what were the results? And truthfully my goal is not to be like everyone else. I enjoy sharing yoga with everyone I can, especially those who think the can't "do" yoga or that yoga is beyond their reach.

  • Use the success of others as inspiration. The success of others can be useful to you. You can study how they became so successful. Their success can inspire you to become your best self. But, avoid comparing your success to theirs.

  • Do you or have you compared yourself to others? Making these types of comparisons can be detrimental to your confidence and self-esteem. Instead, compare your current version of yourself to the version of yourself from three months ago. That’s a fair comparison to make. It becomes easy to see your progress or lack of progress. The best comparison you can make is to your past self. Set a few goals and spend some time each day working on those goals. You’ll be happy when you see the progress you’ve made.

I love quotes and this one has always been a favorite (even if I haven't always take the advice).

"Don't compare your life to others. There's no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it's their time."

I attended an online workshop a few weeks back. One of the best takeaways I got from that class was the following quote:

"No one can do what I do, the WAY that I do it"

It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be me!

Comment and let me know where you fall in the comparison trap (if you do). What do you or have you done to get out?

I look forward to hearing back from you!

If you haven't joined me on The Zoom, I hope to Meet you on the Mat soon! Here is the link to my schedule.

Until the next time,

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