I was in a yoga class last week and my mind began to wander...
I'm pausing here, because I imagine I am getting a few strange looks from some of my readers. I can hear your comments from here:
"Are you kidding me?"
I promise there is a point to this story, so keep moving warriors.
Anyway, while holding Warrior II, I found myself comparing my form to those around me in the class. For those of you that practice yoga, you (especially the Yoga Warriors) know all too well that this is a sure way to reduce the effectiveness of your practice. I recognized my wandering mind, cleared my thoughts, and began to settle back into my stance. As my gaze began to soften onto my extended hand, I had a bit of an epiphany. It was this short moment in time that I became a bit enlightened about a challenge that many wounded warriors encounter during their healing process with PTSD. I call it the Unfair Comparison.
Many warriors I work with, express an array of emotions surrounding the perception that they are "losing things" as a result of war injuries; both physically and psychologically.
Don't get me wrong here, there is no doubt that they change; we all change over time! Setting the right expectations with these particular warriors is a very important step in their healing process. This is why I want to help them avoid the pitfalls of an Unfair Comparison.
Given that the average recruit or junior officer enters the service between the ages of 18-22 years of age, it is difficult to avoid "base lining" our perceptions of ourselves as always being that "lean, mean, fighting-machine" captured in our photos from Basic Training / Ranger School / Tiger-Fighting Course, or whatever it was that we graduated from back in the day. When this type of comparison begins to dominate our thoughts, it becomes unhealthy. Comparing our current age to the days of our youth is a trap we set for ourselves that we are guaranteed to step into every time. These harmful and Unfair Comparisons are backward focused, meaning we compare ourselves to something we cannot become; namely younger. These comparisons are also outward focused, where we find ourselves comparing ourselves to other people. This creates a great deal of sorrow and unhappiness. It reduces our resolve and becomes that hot flare-up that evokes the anger in some of us.
American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you." Emerson gave us these thoughts when he wrote about finding happiness in our lives. With this in mind, I will submit that happiness and the Unfair Comparison will never be occupants of the same foxhole. Here's my take.
Comparing yourself to anyone else, right now in this present moment, is like comparing apples and oranges. What you think is important, may not resonate with your target of comparison. Your appreciation for simplicity may run counter to your opponents need for material things. But most importantly, your comparison is usually based on those activities or possessions that are found "outside" of us.
Bottom line; you can't get younger and you can't be somebody else! So why compare yourself to something that is unobtainable?
I will also contend that the best comparisons we can make are those that gauge how effectively we are moving toward the Objectives we set for ourselves. In this mindset, we set the Objective, we choose to move toward it, and we are the ones that hold ourselves accountable to the standards we set. If we don't like the results, we change our tactics. Sound familiar, warriors? Just like adjusting the sight on a weapon, in order to hit the target!
Over the next several weeks, I will be highlighting how my coaching process focuses on the key pillars that most of us use to define our own happiness; namely Self-Image, Wealth, Health, and Love. I will also be diving deeper into some of the other methods, we as humans, use in attaining the elusive buzz of happiness.
Who knows, maybe you'll even look forward to my next post? To those I say...
That brings me great happiness.