Tiny practices, big shifts: Break out of the comparison game
Ever play the compare game?! I am REALLY good at comparing your outsides to my insides. A few examples of recent thoughts I’ve had, ‘Man, if only had her backbend, or her shoulder definition, I would be happy.’ Or, ‘if only I had 200k followers on Instagram like HER, then I’d be happy…because having more followers MUST mean she is an amazing yoga instructor in real life.’ Ha! I know. I’m crazy.
I hate to even admit these thoughts because rationally, they sound and feel so ridiculous. However, I KNOW I am not alone in these experiences, and I deal in truths, so here is mine…
Women (including myself) are already so tough on themselves, and comparing is another way to deflect our own insecurities on to someone or something outside of ourselves.
For example, when social media becomes a lens through which to reinforce all of the negative language used towards yourself, it perpetuates and breeds more of this degrading mindset. I have experienced this first hand.
It isn’t hard to fall into the comparison trap, especially while many social media accounts display perfect yoga postures, flawless bodies, or happy, problem-free families.
Here’s what I know:
When I have twangs of jealousy, judgment or insecurity from seeing someone else’s body, experience, voice, accomplishment(s), there is a light being shined on places within MYSELF, all of which require attention.
More love. Softness. Curiosity. Questioning.
For me, when these feelings bubble to the surface, I am brought back to an old, underlying belief that I am not ‘good’ enough; My body isn’t good enough, I’m not smart enough, I am a fraud.
If you experience some of the same beliefs about yourself, then you KNOW how emotionally draining and exhausting it can be to carry these crappy thoughts everywhere with you.
The good news is, we don’t have to be stuck with these shitty, preprogrammed ideas and feelings! It IS possible to shift our perceptions of ourselves and others – and I have experienced this shift first hand. Hallejulah!
Here are some effective ways I have found to shift the focus back inward when comparing, negative thoughts rear up:
Give your emotional experiences a VOICE.
Generally, I think we are really good at immediately shutting down when something within us is triggered; because the thoughts and comparisons that come up for us might feel shameful or 'stupid'.
Give these thoughts a voice in a way that feels safe for you. Wash that shit out!! Write in a journal, grab a close friend whom you trust, or use your OWN social media as a way to speak your truth, unapologetically.
Find your TRIBE
Create a social media space that INSPIRES rather than drains. It's easy to forget that we are in control of who & what we surround ourselves with. Follow accounts that are relevant & uplifting, unfollow accounts that perpetuate negativity within yourself and in the world. It is OK to unfollow that annoying distant cousin who constantly posts political nonsense... make your social media space sacred!
Many years ago, I went through an intensive training with my teacher, Jack Canfield. He challenged us to create an affirmation and then say it out loud to ourselves at the mirror EVERYDAY, for a week. Even though my initial thought was that this exercise was cheesy (*insert eye roll), I did it anyways.
The first few days of the exercise I noticed how deeply resistant I was to one specific affirmation, 'I am enough'. I said it however to my reflection, out loud, with confidence. By day 4, I caught myself thinking, 'I am enough, I am enough, I am enough' in moments of fear, anxiety, and self doubt. By day 7, my thinking had begun to shift from my default mindset of judgment of myself and others, to - I AM ENOUGH. Empowerment. Positivity. Clarity. Pause.
Cheesy? Maybe... but does it work? Yes.
Next time you catch yourself comparing your insides to someone else's outsides, challenge your thoughts with an empowering affirmation. Here are some of my favorites:
I am beautiful
I am enough
I am worthy
I am badass mammajamma with SO much to share
I am right where I am supposed to be
I am being divinely guided & carried
I am a natural born leader
I am stepping into my power and shining my light
I am a badass
I am living my authentic truth
Find room for pause
Unplug. Get quiet. Feel your feet on the ground.
Close your eyes.
Seal your lips.
Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 4.
Hold your breath for a count of 5.
Open your mouth, and release your breath for a slow count of 6.
This would be a great time to insert an affirmation, or continue with this breath pattern for 2, 5, even 10 minutes, if time allows.
I hope these tools help you, as much as they’ve helped me. It truly is about being willing to try something new, however uncomfortable it may be at first! There is freedom in acknowledging the parts of ourselves that maybe we aren’t especially proud of… because in the acknowledgement exists awareness, and awareness can lead to change. From someone who suffered greatly from low self-esteem for many years, and isn’t held captive anymore by the comparison game; tiny, committed practices work, if the willingness for growth and change is there.
“Big doors swing on little hinges.” W. Clement Stone