We have all heard the saying that comparison is the thief of joy, but a friend also put it into perspective for me that comparing yourself isn’t loving yourself. This I know all too well. I bet you do too. So why do we do it?
As a yoga teacher and women’s life coach, I know that the inner critic is MASSIVE, and it has a nasty way of creeping in all the time. It loves you to second-guess your own genius. It eggs you on to talk bad about yourself. It wants you to feel like a loser. In this twisted way it’s like trying to motivate you to move forward and “be better damn it!” yet it backfires like some reverse psychology gone bad.
When you listen to the inner critic and compare yourself to others, it actually depletes your own superpowers and usually makes you feel weak, unmotivated, and lazy.
Like a failure.
Like you aren’t enough.
This is a plague in women, I know this for sure.
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
Even as a yogi and coach, I experience my own BIG, ugly critic popping up, again and again, to remind me of how lackluster I “really” am. I used to live with another life coach as I was just starting my own business, and I witnessed her savvy successes. I have overheard her sell a program, and I have also seen her get published on big name blogs, like the Huffington Post, but you know what I have also seen? I have seen her feel down about herself and ask the age old question, “Will anyone care?” or “Who am I to do this?”
I have talked with enough women since then in my yoga retreats, client calls, workshops, and even at book club with friends, to know that this epidemic of not enoughness is very real. But when I have talked openly with these women or shared my own personal struggles, I have found comfort, love, and acceptance. And in those moments, I realize that any jealousy, fear, or ego that I am feeling is such a load of crap.
It’s our inner critic getting in our own way. But why?
Simple. To start, the inner critic is cousins with Fear and Fear, according to Liz Gilbert’s book Big Magic, doesn’t want you to to do anything that it can’t predict or that it doesn’t understand because it is hard wired innately to protect you. So in some weird, back ass way, it thinks it’s doing the right thing by convincing you not to do something or try to tell you that you’ll fail anyway, so why bother? The problem, however, is that it can’t distinguish between life and death versus quitting corporate to go for your dreams. It’s all the same to Fear.
The second reason our inner critic gets in our own way is because society has implanted the thought in us that we are inherently not enough as we are. Every cream, every treatment, every new workout regime, is silently, in some way, putting the notion in our minds that we need to be more than what we are. Now that doesn’t mean that I’m saying you should eat whatever you want and not work out because you’re against “the man” keeping you down. I mean, duh, I’m a yoga teacher, I want you to be your best self, but that’s the difference between self-growth and societal pressure.
Self-growth is about being your best YOU, not about being someone else’s version of you.
Ultimately, awareness is the key to unlocking your freedom. Although the inner critic and ego may never fully go way (unless you’re a monk), acknowledging the ego when it arises and seeing it for what it is – i.e. a conditioned, false version of yourself – helps you in learning to let it go and step into your own true greatness.
Here are some “Awareness Questions” to answer for yourself when you’re feeling down or find yourself making comparisons to others:
- What are you doing and what insecurities/fears could this situation, place, or person be triggering?
- What personality trait do people most love about you?
- What do people always come to you for advice about?
- When have you used your own superpowers and done a bang-up job?
- Who do you look up to and why? (this tells you A LOT about yourself!)
When do you find yourself making comparisons? How do you deal with those feelings? Comment below to join in on the conversation.