The comparison game. Do you play it?
The constant comparing yourself to others? Not feeling good enough? Feeling frustrated, ashamed, or angry that your life, achievements, appearance don’t match up?
Don’t feel bad – we all do it and get that sinking feeling of being not-good-enough-in-comparison to someone else.
There’s something about our culture which promotes comparison.
The glossy magazines, the adverts showing unattainable lifestyles, the side bars of shame. The carefully curated social media streams designed to illustrate how perfect that person’s life is.
Every day we see images and message which press our “not good enough” button which leaves us feeling anxious and stressed and disappointed.
But it’s not good for us to think and feel this way. It erodes our self-esteem.
Here’s how I play the comparison game
I’m not immune to it!
I go on social media and see the streams of tanned, toned, bikinied yogis in contorted poses, on a far-away beach in the sun; the number of Facebook likes or Instragram followers; pictures of jam-packed full classes and retreats; wellbeing/spiritual authors with their latest book out.
I see them and a little part of me cries inside that I’m not living that life or haven’t attained that level of “success”. Bleurgh!
But then I remember not to compare my life and my rich inner world with the carefully selected images someone else has chosen to show about their life.
So why compare your true authentic messy and beautiful life with someone else’s carefully constructed appearance?
Instead, let’s take our yoga practice off the mat and into our daily lives.
Practise contentment & gratitude
Santosha is the art of feeling at ease and peace with yourself.
It’s the practice of feeling grateful for what you have (rather than grasping after what you think you lack).
Flex your contentment muscles and practise gratitude.
Next time you’re on your yoga mat, feel your body moving and be grateful for your spine, and your muscles.
Be grateful for your breath – it’s with you every moment of every day.
Be grateful for your heart beating constantly.
Be grateful for the thousands upon thousands of processes your body performs every second of your life which you’re not even aware of. Did you know that your body produces 2.4 million new red blood cells per second, yes every second? Wow!
Allow a calm contentment to sink into your bones when you rest in relaxation at the end of your yoga class.
Allow yourself to do what brings you joy.
Revel in the simple pleasures in life – whatever they are for you.
Make a choice
Each time we compare ourselves with someone else and find ourselves wanting, we have a choice.
We can let the negative thoughts spiral and beat ourselves up, or we can be mindful of our thoughts.
We can choose to say :“thank you mind for that thought, but I choose contentment. I am content with what I have now; I am grateful I have the wherewithal and focus to bring into my life what I want and what is good for me.”
This is why, each week in my yoga classes, I invite participants to check in with themselves and how they feel with mindful, kind, compassionate, non-judgmental awareness.
It’s important to practise contentment and gratitude – it really is like building up muscle. Then when we need it, the sense of gratitude is stronger than the not-feeling-good-enough response.
So when comparison strikes, try this:
Take what you learn on your yoga mat and into your life with these practical yoga & mindfulness tips to release comparison and find contentment:
- Stop and look within. When you notice you’re comparing yourself to someone else, stop. Check in with yourself. How does this comparison feel in your body? You’re likely to feel tight somewhere because this feeling is related to shame or envy and that’s not a spacious feeling! You might feel a tightening in the stomach or throat. Learn to know where these feelings manifest in your body. And then…
- Breathe out. It’s almost impossible to hold onto a tight feeling and thought if we exhale long and smooth. So release the thought, release the feeling of comparison, let it go.
- Change your thought. Notice what you’re thinking and then choose a new thought. This is what I say to myself when I’m feeling small or fearful: “I have enough. I am enough. All is flowing as it should.”
- Choose contentment & gratitude. Live your yoga and practise Santosha: practice the art of calm contentment.
You are unique. You are doing the best you can. You ARE enough.
Weekly yoga classes: press pause in your busy week with mindful movement, breathing and relaxation with weekly Dru Yoga classes in Southampton, and Bishopstoke (near Eastleigh).
Monthly Friday night Relaxation Classes: Release, Relax, Restore once a month and Calm Friday once a month, both in Eastleigh. Treat yourself to blissfully relaxing experiences; make time just for you to nourish your mind, body and soul.
Yoga workshops & events: give yourself the time and space to breathe, open, relax and let go with yoga, relaxation, mindfulness and meditation.
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