We are living in a society that encourages comparison. And we have the highest rates of depression and anxiety in history. Yes, I believe the two are connected. When we spend our days comparing our lives, bodies, accomplishments, etc. to what we see on social media and TV, we also spend a great deal of time feeling inadequate, cheated, disappointed, and deflated.
When we are in comparison, we are in a contracted and defensive state in our minds and bodies. This means that we cannot grow, nor can we feel free to be our authentic and original selves. We are in a state of stress in our minds and bodies and this is not a healthy place to live.
Permission to be ourselves and to creatively contribute to the world in the way that only we can do comes when we are in a state of relaxed expansion. When we can recognize that each of us has something unique to offer, we can stop comparing and start celebrating.
Comparison is a way in which we steal from ourselves and from others. It is an attempt to feel better about ourselves from a place of discontent. As we compare our lives, bodies, and situations, we are stealing from who we are and what we already have. Many times we are unfairly comparing our messy and real lives to a small sliver of someone else’s.
When we find ourselves coming up short in comparison, we often find that we are placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves and limiting our ability to grow into our own potential. When we find ourselves “better than” in comparison, we are stealing from the person we are comparing ourselves to by sending negative energy in the form of judgment, rating, and one-upmanship.
The ethical teaching in yoga called Asteya (uh-stay-uh) teaches this idea of “nonstealing” and one aspect of that teaching is recognizing when we are in the contracted state of comparison and out of gratitude. If joy is cultivated by practicing gratitude and comparison is the opposite of appreciating our lives in this moment, then, living in a state of comparison will keep us out of joy.
When we can embrace ourselves and the originality of others, we can relax into a state of creativity. When we are more creative in our lives- artistically, cognitively, socially- we experience more meaning. Imagine what it would feel like to celebrate what everyone has to offer rather than to tear each other down in a fruitless effort to feel better.
To unravel our tendency toward comparison, we must first recognize when we have fallen into the habit of looking outside of ourselves to feel good. Next, we must take a moment to practice gratitude and begin to grow joy. And finally, we must recognize our own creative and original way of living this life.
What you have to offer to the world is unique and amazing. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else to earn that. This week, open yourself to recognizing how original and creative you are and how original and creative others are as well.
I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,