This week two moments collided for me and helped me to gain insight. This was brought to the fore by a client with whom I have been working for a long time.
This client, like so many of us, has experienced social anxiety for a while and wants to ‘fix’ it. When asked what he needed to do to make it ‘go away’ he had an easy answer. ‘I want to be really good at something’. This rang so true for me. I have always considered my greatest achievement as being consistently average. There is nothing I excel at and I have never been the best amongst my friendship group at anything. Of course, most people would say the same about themselves. Because this is true for most of us! And we tend to do what we can label as ‘upward comparisons’. We compare ourselves to those that are better/faster/prettier/more confident etc.
Alongside this, something my yoga teacher said a long time ago has been resonating with me recently. We were all in tree pose and she started talking about finding our focus in this pose. This is a balancing pose and can be quite challenging some days, while quite easy on others.
What my teacher said was this:
A tree does not compare itself to the tree next to it. It doesn’t worry that some days it is one way and the next it is another. The tree just is.
I loved this. Even in yoga class I can often find my caveman brain comparing myself to those around me (this is a protective mechanism and there is more on it in the video below). This quote helped me to refocus. I realised I don’t have to worry about whether the person next to me is wobbling less, or more. I don’t have to worry about whether the pose is easier on one side, or one day. I can just be.
The same can apply to ourselves when we go about our day to day lives. Be more like a tree. Try to move your attention away from comparing yourself to the tree (or person) next to you and focus on accepting what is. Next time you see a tree, notice how you look at it. We so rarely consider a tree to be ‘ugly’ or ‘different’, they just are and we appreciate their existence as they are. The more you can use this type of thinking to consider your own qualities or behaviours, the more free you will become.
If you’re interested in why we do these social comparisons, and what I mean by ‘caveman brain’ I love this video by Russ Harris:
This week I will be practicing redirecting my attention to appreciation of what is, and trying to catch my comparisons and move away from these. I hope you are able to do the same!