Quit comparing yourself to others! In his article, “A Lesson in Anatomy: Why Your Practice Won’t Look Like Anyone Else’s,” Bernie Clark says,
“Just as no one else has your dental pattern, it’s also true that no one else has your bone structure, your spine, or your hips. There are things you can do right now, there are things you will be able to do in time, and there are things you will never be able to do. This is not a critique of your abilities or a reflection of your personality or a flaw that needs fixing—this is simply the reality of your existence.”
Physically Quit Comparing Yourself to Others
Bernie Clark’s article focusses on the information that femur heads on individuals of the same height and sex might not be the same size or shape. Imagine, if our bones are different, the muscle and ligament attachments must be different, too. This means that muscle use among individuals is not standard but rather, it is an experience as unique as the individual. It is not an identical experience for two people to use their adductors (inner thighs) because the muscles might relate to the bone in different ways.
The list of important differences between people goes beyond bone structure and muscles. We are an aggregate of injuries and experiences. All of your injuries and compensations, retrained muscles, and skills from activities and sports as a kid come into play as you move your body today. For example, I used to sprain my left ankle when I was 10. Even today, my left ankle is still a little weak. Every time I practice yoga, I mindfully connect the muscles of my left foot and ankle to the bone to find stability and balance.
Mentally Quit Comparing Yourself to Others
When I was 5, my kindergarten teacher told me (repeatedly), “You worry about you.” As a busy body, rule enforcer, her plea fell on deaf ears. That’s why she had to say it several times. Finally, one time, her words stuck in my brain, and I memorized them. It took me a while to absorb what they meant but, as a 38-year-old, I’m starting to get pretty good at figuring them out.
Often, we get so focussed on what others are doing around us that we have no idea of what we are actually doing. This means that we are missing out on our own lives. Sure, we can tell you all about what our neighbor does or thinks, but we miss the experience of noticing what we are doing or thinking.
This shows up frequently in yoga class. In class, it is important for you to practice within your own body, creating your own unique experience for that practice. Remember, you are an aggregate of all of your experiences in life. When our mind wanders, we start to look around the room. As we look at our neighbors, we might begin judging and comparing ourselves to others.
This is very unfair since we are all unique individuals. It is unfair to you, and it is unfair to the other class members since no one is at yoga class to be judged. When my mind drifts and my eyes start to wander, I reign myself back in. You worry about you. And I return to my own practice.
How to Quit Comparing Yourself to Others
- Become aware of when you are comparing yourself to others. Sometimes, we do this without even realizing it.
- When you go to a class of any kind, realize that you are there for yourself. Get excited about that you time.
- To help stay focussed, sit up front by the teacher.
- If you find that your mind is wandering, refocus on your breathing.
- Appreciate what you have. An attitude of gratitude will get you far on the road of happiness.
- If you do find that you’re comparing yourself to someone else, acknowledge that they have not lived through your challenges and you have not lived through theirs. Then, return to focussing on yourself.
- Give yourself permission to put yourself first. Pay attention to your thoughts and desires and take care of those. You are the only person who can take care of you so do a good job.
What tips do you have to quit comparing yourself to others? Let us know in the comments below.
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