On Comparison: When In Doubt, Always Serve The Learning

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Something I’ve noticed when I feel tired, run down or out of sorts is that I’m more easily susceptible to the pitfalls of comparison. It’s like the usual mechanisms that perkily stand guard at the perimeter of my brain, preventing negative comparisons from taking seed, decide to take leave, leaving me open and susceptible to the voices of the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee taking up residence inside my head.

I find myself physically irritated when this occurs. There’s a particular feeling that starts in the seed of my stomach, crawls its way up to my throat. As soon as it makes contact, it swirls and disperses, tightening my thoughts and my voice. But the physical sensation is not the only cause of my irritation. It also comes about because I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the person who looks at others with a slightly sideways glance, wishing that their experience, success or set of skills they are displaying were mine.

And so, I make the simple decision to not let myself be. Which I’ve discovered, through consistent practice, is a possible thing to do.

Comparison can be the seat of death for creativity, and both writing and riding, my two greatest loves, are both creative acts. There are surprising truths that are hidden behind the veil of comparison, that is we understand them can help us develop a relationship with comparison (and beyond that, criticism) that might move us forward, instead of holding us back.

They are:

  • It takes courage to keep showing up for the things that are important to you and to continually allow yourself to learn. That process is one that requires feedback. But you aren’t at the mercy of feedback; receiving it is just part of the creative act. We aren’t victims of this process; we are generators of it. That distinction is important.
  • If you serve the process of learning, instead of serving yourself, you stay in flow with the experience. You stay in the creative act. Which is a fluid and generous place to ground yourself.
  • Your riding, your horsemanship, your life, is a practice. And if you do it well, you put yourself on the hook rather than taking yourself off it. That means that at times, you are placing yourself in positions of discomfort- something that most of all people spend lifetimes avoiding. If you’re showing up, you’re claiming responsibility. But you’re not claiming responsibility for producing an outcome; you are claiming responsibility for continuing to show up. For the practice. And needing to feel a particular way is not a pre-requisite for the practice.
  • Everyone regularly feels like an imposter. Everyone that cares about what they’re doing. End of.
  • It’s ok to balance the energy to get yourself back to a place where taking the next right step becomes possible. I know if I fall into the comparison trap, my focus has become too wide for what the edges of my skin can hold in that moment. So, I zoom in. Conversely, if I get stuck, or too invested in the specifics of a challenge, I need to zoom out. My focus has become too narrow. Do you need to zoom out or zoom in?


When in doubt, always serve the learning.


❤️ Jane

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