Those that know me well, know how I feel about comparison. I have been known to say, “comparison is a joy killer”. In order to explain this viewpoint, let’s look at comparison on a basic level. When we compare ourselves to others, there are two possible outcomes. Either we compare and find ourselves wanting, or we compare and find others wanting. If the result is we are found wanting; we may become self-critical, self-abusive, petty, jealous, insecure, etc. If we find others wanting; we can judge them, criticize them, censor them, or even remove them from our lives. Of course, there are are differing degrees of comparing; ranging from extremely benign to vey harsh. Needless to say, comparison creates a separation between ourselves and others. It creates an “us vs. them” mentality. It sets up a mindset based fundamentally on finding fault, whether the fault lies with us or others. So at its core, comparison creates a chasm which eliminates connection. In my opinion, the connection we have with others is what gives us true joy. Thus, comparison is a joy killer.
Sometimes it is obvious when we are comparing. However, over the past several years I have become aware of myself and others constantly comparing. Comparing is almost always happening. It’s a pattern that is running in the background, and we are not even aware of it. Maybe this comes from our parents; comparing us to other children as we were growing up. Even comparing us to our siblings and themselves. It’s highly possible that comparison was used to form us and control us. I think comparison was a tool of our “domestication”. (I wrote about domestication in in Blog #7. It’s a concept introduced by Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book; The Four Agreements). Through our childhood we were programmed to compare, and over time it became our default setting.
What are the consequences of comparison? I believe comparison creates separation between us and others. I believe it also creates separation between us and our true selves. Through my journey of study, practice, and mediation I have come to believe that source communicates to us through our emotions, our intuition and our inspiration. You often hear it said; “trust your gut”. That’s what this is. It’s source causing us to feel led a certain way. When we feel that way, we feel assurance, confidence, and peace. Esther Hicks calls this our emotional guidance system, Jack Canfield calls it our GPS, Don Miguel Ruiz calls it our authentic self, and Gabby Bernstein calls it our “ing”. I call it; my true self, source, the universe, love, the divine, and God. You get the idea. When we compare, we short circuit what source is telling us. Instead of relying on an eternal knowing that comes from love, comparing causes us to rely on what we are observing in the current moment. How do we know that comparison is not helpful? By the way we feel. How does comparing make you feel? In a word, comparison makes you feel bad. Why? It causes judgment and separation. Comparison comes from fear. Marianne Williamson says there are only two things in the universe; love and fear. Through my explanation you can draw the conclusion that love feels good, and fear feels bad. When you compare, it feels bad; which means comparison is rooted in fear. Fear of what? Many things; failing, being inadequate, not measuring up, embarrasment, judgement, etc.
We can practice mindfulness with comparison. When you notice you don’t feel good, pay attention if comparison is happening. If it is, take a breath, take a conscious step back. You may recognize right away what you were comparing. You might not. For this practice, it doesn’t really matter. All you need to do is be aware you are doing it. Then make another choice. Instead of comparing and feeling badly and creating separation, you can choose again. Instead, breathe and release your bad feelings and ask source to guide you. If your true source is guiding it, it can only feel good.
Now let’s go step further. (If you have been following me for awhile, you know I can’t help it!) There is something I believe is more destructive than comparison with others; that is comparison of ourselves to imaginary ideals, expectations and standards. I say “imaginary”, because they are not real. Through our “domestication” we learn to “self-domesticate”. This is tremendously harmful to our self worth and psyche. Once you become aware of “self-domestication”, your view of the whole world will change.
Due to rampant social media, comparison is everywhere, all the time. We also are exposed to it through, magazines, TV and online sources. I encourage you to become more aware of how you feel when on social media, reading articles and blogs or watching tv, videos, etc. Do you feel good? If not, take a step back and breathe. Do you feel separation between yourself and others? Do you feel badly about yourself? Do you feel critical of others? If so, this is your emotional guidance system pointing you in another direction. It’s your true self telling you there is another perspective. A perspective of love, acceptance and peace.
Rather than comparing, what if we chose to love others and ourselves unconditionally? How would that feel? What if we are already perfect? What if others are beautiful just the way they are?
with love and belief, emilie