I can sink into a pretty dark place and fast when I start comparing myself to others. Intellectually and spiritually, I know better. Emotionally, I have no control. It doesn't always happen, but when it does it really gets me down. I can sink into an impressive depressive state when other people are doing what I do way better than me. I totally lose sight of why I'm doing it in the first place and despair over my perceived incompetence. Like really really despair. I contemplate quitting and start questioning my worth. I feel even worse about it as a yoga teacher, because I don't feel like I'm practicing what I'm preaching. And also, I'm making it all about me instead of about what I'm actually doing. Blargh. You can see the downward spiral forming.
The thing is, lately, I've been dealing with this is in a pretty great way. When I get into the whole "compare & despair" spiral, I force myself to stop what I'm doing (probably scrolling Facebook, I'll admit it) and go study Ayurveda/yoga. My response is to immediately reconnect to WHAT I'm doing, not how good I am it. And once I start doing it I remember why I'm doing it (because I f-ing love it!) and can get rid of my woes. Striving to be the best at something that is supposed to be all about service misses the point completely. But, despite being able to snap out of it fairly quickly, I still feel bad that I had the feelings at all, because for whatever reason I assume that nobody else gets that way. I must be the only yoga teacher in the world who isn't all always full of light & cheer. The spiral begins again...
"Comparison is the death of joy," says Mark Twain.
Yes. Correct. Joy has died within me in these moments. Joy for others and for myself. I am a killjoy.
Comparing yourself to others not only makes you feel bad, but it also disconnects you from the people you are comparing yourself to. It sort of means you can't feel joy for their accomplishments either and I have to say the ability to feel joy for other people's accomplishments is huge! It is an act full of love, respect, and confidence. But, obviously, it is not always easy.
Comparison absolutely kills joy. I hate joy-killers. We talked a lot about this in my first teacher training when we talked about the concept of "asteya." Asteya, which means "non-stealing," is one of the ethical practices of yoga. This absolutely applies to physical objects, but it also applies in less obvious ways. Have you ever been excited about something and then had somebody else make you feel like it was dumb? Yeah, that's somebody stealing and killing your joy right there! I try not to do it. Hey, maybe somebody else is doing something I'm not that into, but if they are excited about it I am NOT taking that away from them. No way. Different strokes, right?
So, why am I a being such a self killjoy? Why am I stealing my own joy with stupid comparisons to other people? How have I become this person I dislike so much? Whhhhhyyyyyyy????
I'm working on it, guys, I'm working on it.