It hit me while practicing yoga (my fourth class back after baby), when during bridge pose, I noticed the girl two mats over. She was graceful and effortless as she popped up into a further pose. As I remained straining in the easier pose thinking "Ugh. She is so effortless. What a beautiful practice. I super suck." I realized I was completely distracted, I lost my breath and I just cut down all of the strength I had in about two seconds. "She must practice several times a week. I bet she's practiced for years.... and she's so thin"... and on and on and on. I spent half of the class distracted by the voice in my head and left feeling unfulfilled and disappointed in myself. I compared myself to a total stranger, whom I know nothing about for 40 minutes. It got me thinking...
We have all heard the saying "comparison is the thief of joy".
What I realized when I started thinking about it though, is that comparison is the thief of so much more. Joy, yes. And confidence. Pride. Strength. Power.
Comparison sneaks into everything. We compare our losses, our gains. Our struggles and adversities, adventures and accomplishments. Our love stories, families, our careers and educations. When we compare ourselves to others abilities, milestones or experiences we undercut our abilities, milestones and experiences. We lose moments focusing on others instead of building ourselves up.
Comparison can be mean and nasty. It can be distracting and time absorbing. It can cloud your ability to see clearly. It takes your accomplishments and makes them smaller. It steals your shining moments and layers them with dust. Comparing relationships ( past to previous, yours to your friends) steals energy. Every relationship is different, and complicated and beautiful in it's own way. Comparing your body (to another persons, to yours pre- baby or ten years ago) deflates confidence and snatches up all of the hard work you have put into yourself. Every body is different, amazing and strong in it's own way. Comparing your career (or level of education, mental or emotional abilities) dims your light and discredits your efforts.
Every person is different and has their own unique story.
We all have strengths in different areas- that is what makes the world diverse, what makes friendships thrive, conversations interesting. Life interesting. We live in a very social media focused world, it can be very hard not to fall into a downward spiral of comparisons. I encourage us all to remember that most often people choose to highlight the best, and brightest parts of their worlds on social media, leaving the messy, not so pretty and perfect parts out (I know I do, and trust that I have my fair share of messy). Filters have the ability to make things and people appear flawless. No one is flawless. Flawless is not interesting.
So next time you catch yourself comparing - take a minute. Acknowledge. Restore. Reset. Celebrate you. Repeat as needed.