It started with a pair of sunglasses.
A while ago, I got a free pair of sunglasses from a friend of Tim's. I got to pick them out online and couldn't wait to wear them- I'd been needing a sunglass upgrade! The sunglasses arrived, and Tim's pair looked casual, normal. They were a pair even I would wear. I pulled mine out and got these.
I'll admit, initially I was horrified. I put them on. Tim laughed. I thought, "I'm never wearing these. What did I put on my face." Back into the box they went. Cue 4 months later and I'm out sunglasses except for my 4th of July pair, which were cheap knock offs so they don't work that well. I was in a pinch. "Hey," I thought to myself. "What about those sunglasses I got from Tim's friend?" I puled them out. Maybe they didn't look so bad. Then, I put them on and thought, "What the hell. Let's find out what people think." I posted a selfie of me in the glasses on instagram and polled people: Coolest ever OR what is on your face? As the results rolled in, I was surprised as just how many people thought my glasses were super cool! It started to boost me up a bit. I wore them that whole day. As the poll went on, turns out more people wondered what was on my face, but at that point it didn't matter. I'd had a few select people say, "hey, those are cool," and that was enough for me. The next day, when I went to put the shades on, I looked in the mirror and thought, "dang, they really are cool!" So naturally, I've been thinking about these shades all week and what life lesson they can teach us, and here's what I've uncovered:
The way you compare matters.
In a world full of a myriad of ways to make sure we are measuring up (likes, heart, email stats, FB posts) it can feel impossible to do anything well. We are in world where they opportunity to compare ourselves to others is waiting at every turn. I learned something about comparison this week, though. "To compare" is to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences. Note the world examine I highlighted. Different from judgement! When we examine (or observe), we do so to see or learn something and to gather data. When we judge, we form an opinion of someone or something that may or may not be true.
How many of us are practice comparison from a place of judgement vs a place of examining/observing? How often are we looking to form an opinion of others/ourselves?
It so easy to fall into the trap of needing to be convinced all the time. We need to be convinced that we are strong enough, that we do matter, that we can make good decisions, that we're raising our babies well, that our sunglasses are cool. When we need convinced, we look to and source outside information to help us make sense of things, to give us evidence and data that we are on the right track. We poll our friends. We poll instagram. We go for comparison. But what are we really look for? What is underneath the surface? Underneath the poll on my sunglasses was the deeper question of "am I worthy?" Really. At the end of the day, I wanted to know that I was enough. The instagram poll was clear- more people wondered what the heck was on my face. But what the Instagram poll reminded me of is that I already am enough. And so are you.
I don't need other people to remind of my worthiness. Neither do you.
What if you stopped to trying to convince yourself of anything? What if, when in a moment of comparison, you were able pause and ask yourself, "am I gathering data to learn something, or am I aiming to form an opinion that may or may not have truth to it?" That 2 second pause could be enough to stop you from going down the rabbit whole of shaming and shoulding and what if's and keep you grounded on your two feet in your own worthiness. In the practice of yoga (as a whole, not just the asana or postures), there are many ways to cultivate this pause. It happens on your mat when you really get present to your physical body and you make a choice that fits in the moment. It happens in meditation when you manage to still your mind even 5% more than before. It happens when you remember to practice kindness to yourself and others. Look for the opportunities to take the pause in your own life. Pause before you pick up your phone and get on Instagram. Pause before you go into a conversation with someone who thinks differently than you do. Pause on the phone with your parents. Maybe that pause will offer something different for you- perhaps a new way of looking at an old situation, like me with my sunglasses.