All comparison does is ensure a lack of confidence and a cycle of stress and disempowerment.
It is so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. It is part of being human. Many equestrians get stuck in the comparison loop, thinking they aren’t enough in some way. I call it a loop, but it is really a snowball because each comparison builds on another until we get overwhelmed and stuck in place, unable to move forward and improve.
Riders compare their abilities, finances, horses, equipment, relationships, status, successes and more to other riders. All this comparison does is ensure a lack of confidence and a cycle of stress and disempowerment. It can be hard to break this need to compare and be self-judgmental. The first step in breaking this loop is having a nonjudgmental awareness that it is happening. We all compare ourselves to others at times, so there is no need to beat yourself up for doing so. Just stop and acknowledge what is happening. Don’t even try to end the cycle or force yourself to stop comparing. Instead, just be aware. Notice what is happening, when you tend to do this and try and figure out what triggers you and what are the underlying beliefs you have about yourself that cause you to be so self-judgmental. Don’t push those feelings away, but instead lean into them and investigate them. As you do you will get a better understanding of what is happening and the feeling of the need to compare will begin to dissolve and lose its grip on you.
Look at yourself as the unique individual that you are.
As you stay in the moment and let go of the self-judgment you can begin to look at yourself as the unique individual that you are and honor both your strengths and weaknesses. You will then begin to be able to look at others and see their strengths and weaknesses too. You will realize that they are also unique and not perfect. You will begin to understand that the comparisons we make are all really just stories we are making up in our head. We assume others have it better than we do, but in reality we are only looking at a small part of their lives and experiences and we are doing that through a vision distorted with envy.
I am not writing this as someone who has never been stuck in the comparison loop. I have done it many times in the past and I still do. I look at other performance coaches and their writings, videos, offerings and websites and think I am not able to be as good as they are at what they do. That is when I stop myself and say I don’t need to be like them. I need to remember my strengths and design my own programs my own way. Because if I am trying to be me instead of someone else, I will come through as an authentic coach who will connect with the right people and clients that are the best fit for them and for me. I will then be happy in what I do and serve my clients well. My mindfulness practice has helped me learn to stay in the present and work with what I have.
It is a very freeing feeling!
All of this takes daily work and won’t happen overnight. But little by little you can begin to shift your perspective and focus to what you have, instead of what you don’t have. You will get unstuck and be able to move forward looking at your mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn and grow. This will happen, no matter the level of rider you are and no matter how much money and time you have to put into your riding. You will begin to do your best, gain confidence and make the best of what you have, as your focus will be on your growth and improvement and not on what you think others may have that you don’t. It is a very freeing feeling! You will still compare yourself at times but you will be able to break the cycle before you go too far down that road. If you have a need to compare, compare your ride today to your ride yesterday. Whether it is better or worse, look at the lessons you can learn and how you can use them to move forward in growth.