Comparison is the killer of joy
A harsh statement, but when you think about it, a true one.
We live in a world where comparison is rife. We spend hours and hours a week on social media, maybe we go to the gym, maybe we run, maybe we practice yoga, but within all of these things comparison arises and I’ll explain how it can then go about ruining your mood.
Social media is an easy one. We all know that most social media platforms are used as a highlight reel, we see only the best bits, the fun parts and the stories that get a reaction. But if we’re not carful we start to compare our every day life with someone else's highlights, and that’s a dangerous game to play.
We all have our own story, upbringing, habits and desires. Our souls search for something completely unique. By aiming to find what makes your soul sing and makes you happy will bring you more joy and contentment, than striving for what makes someone else happy.
3 simple fixes for social media comparison:
1. Remove accounts that you find you compare yourself to, or that negatively impact your mood. The accounts may change over time, just because something served you once, doesn't mean it does now.
2. Notice when you are comparing yourself to someone else's life and repeat the affirmation: "I am on my now journey, and it will never look like someone else's"
3. Remember you can control who you see on social media, follow the accounts that are true to you, and you alone. You may find your 'people' and community on social media, the people that help your soul sing. It doesn't have to be a negative place.
Comparison in your yoga practice shows its ugly face in two ways.
Firstly, you may compare yourself to others. This is more prevalent in studio yoga, but I’ve been told about how some of my yogis manage to compare themselves to others online, purely from the progressions or praise I offer (what a nightmare).
But in a studio yoga class, your mat might be surrounded by other yogis, and it’s very easy to let your gaze fall upon the people around you. And then the comparing starts… it might be if you can get into a certain pose or not. It might be how a pose looks, it might be the level of progression you manage within a pose.
There are so many ways to compare, and most of them leave us feeling worse than we did before. So, as you may have heard me say before, keep your head on your own mat. It doesn’t matter what any one else can do, because once again, you are on your own journey.
3 ways to help combat comparison to other people:
The second way that comparison shows up in yoga, also comes up in any fitness class or when you do anything that challenges you. It’s comparing yourself to yourself.
This is far more common than you may have realised. Ever had some time away from your mat? Then come back and realised that pose after pose feels different. What you then do is compare your current self to your past self.
“I used to be able to do this”
“That used to be easy”
“I have no balance/strength/mobility any more”
Well, this is when wonderful things happen in our brains. We love to forget how even when we practiced last time there was struggle. We love to assume that we were better than we were. So when we sit in the here and now and think back, we layer on more negative self talk.
Finally, we also compare ourselves to who we think we should be, yes, read that again.
We get to a point in our fitness or yoga journey, where we add on the pressure and think we ‘should’ be doing so much better than we are.
The odds are you’re moving with more ease, nailing poses you never thought you would, and progressing at a delightful rate. But instead, the pressure comes and you think you’re doing badly. Once again the negative self talk begins.
“I should be better than this”
“I should be able to do this by now”
“I am not getting any better”
This self talk permeates into our beliefs, and we begin to think of them as true, rather than just a comparison to something that doesn’t even exist.
3 ways to help combat comparison to your past and future self:
I hope you start to notice where comparison is showing up in your life, and are able to break down some of those common occurrences that can bring your mood down in an instant.
Celebrate how awesome you are yogis.
Love and light
Alex Howarth, owner of GAIN Mobility, Fitness, Astanga, Hatha and Vinyasa teacher. Lover of meditation and writing. Even if I can't spell.