Be A Voice, Not An Echo

"Be a voice, not an echo" ~Albert Einstein

Simple ways to stop comparing yourself to others and appreciate the real, quirky, beautiful, magical person that you are!

With the beginning of a new year, many of us are embarking on new goals and aspirations. Such new opportunities for growth will inevitably bring challenges. One of the greatest of those challenges that so many of us struggle with is the tendency to compare ourselves with others.

Comparing ourselves to others is a natural and inherited instinct, evolved to help us quickly analyze others to see how similar they are to us and to ultimately decide whether or not they are a threat to our survival. This ability served us when we were living in caves and surviving in tribes, but in today’s world of social media, excess and poverty, and everything in between, this has become a habit we do not need to strengthen. It is exhausting, childish, and simply doesn’t serve us at all.

I recently returned from teacher training in India. While there, I was surrounded by some of the most compassionate, aware, and down-to-earth people I have ever met, yet I still found myself sometimes relentlessly picking away at my sense of well-being with thoughts of inadequacy: “You’re not as skinny as that girl, can’t lift as strongly as that guy, you’re not as clever as her….” We were there for yoga training, doing more than 4 hours of yoga class every day, yet I still found refuge by slipping away during our limited breaks for my own grounding, empowering practice. Yoga has always been a friend to me in that regard, but it too can sometimes pose challenges in remaining true to, and honoring ourselves. Here are some simple things that I have found to be helpful in learning to love myself for who I am:

  • Awareness. Be on the lookout for thoughts of comparison. When they start to creep up, try to detach yourself from them. Observe them from afar, acknowledge that they are there, but don’t succumb to them. Recognize that they are just thoughts: activity of the mind that need not have any power over your happiness and sense of true self.

  • Find Gratitude. Gently shift your focus to what you do have, on what you are already blessed with. Count what you have, not what you don’t. Think about how fortunate you are to have the people in your life who care about you, to have food on your table, a roof over your head, to be alive at all.

  • Be your own friend. Instead of joining in when the mean voice of comparison pops up, choose to be on your side. Relieve, soothe, and comfort yourself. Give yourself regular pep talks, and if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.