In yoga, there’s a principle about not comparing yourself with others. The principle is taught through a wonderful metaphor called, “staying on your own mat”. For any of us who have attended a yoga class, it’s the concept of not comparing our yoga skills to a fellow classmate. Instead, the principle teaches us to focus on ourselves and be present with what is true for us. The risk is that by not staying on our own mat and comparing, for example, our strength or flexibility, we disconnect from our own beauty and value.
I use this metaphor to help my coaching clients reframe this type of unproductive thinking. I also use it to help myself when I get caught in the Comparison Trap. Here’s a recent example.
I attended a conference with some superstars in my consulting field. I left feeling excited and energized about some new concepts to apply to my work. All of the folks I met at the conference were incredibly gracious and shared their field experience and new ideas. Yet, after a few days, I began to compare some of my consulting work to theirs. I felt anxious. The anxiety is familiar because from time to time, I feel inadequate; we all do.
As I’ve aged, I have more tools to help myself either reframe a negative thought. One way is to “stay on my own mat”. When I stay on my own mat, I can appreciate the value I bring to clients and also objectively look at skills I might want to build to become a better consultant. So, if you find yourself in the Comparison Trap, get back to your mat and focus on yourself.