Comparing ourselves to others is a natural, often unconscious, part of the human experience. We navigate social comparisons in all walks of life, even in the realm of spiritual growth. I know what you're thinking: But spirituality has nothing to do with competition, and everything to do with releasing ego attachments!
Yes … but since we're all developing on our individual spiritual paths, it would be unrealistic if we didn’t occasionally fall into competition with each other, including when it comes to spiritual growth.
Imagine the fairly common scenario where we meet an advanced yogi (or guru, healer, psychic, teacher, author, or nutritional expert). We are inspired, but we still may compare ourselves and feel inadequate. I could do yoga for the rest of my life and never hold those asanas as perfectly as he does! or She can meditate for hours, and I can’t even do it for ten minutes!
This type of spiritual competition may lead us to wonder why bother, since we'll never be as good as so-and-so. I’m the first to admit that I still have moments like this, as do a number of my friends, students and clients. Here are five ways to navigate away from spiritual competition and towards spiritual fulfillment, unity and harmony.
1. Get rid of guilt. You are enough!
Remind yourself that making these spiritual comparisons is a natural part of your cognitive processing, and the insecurity that may result is nothing to feel guilty or shameful about. When we meet an inspirational person and inadequacy rears its ugly head, often the next step is to beat ourselves up. How can I be jealous of such an amazing person? To overcome the guilt, forgive yourself for these feelings and remind yourself that You Are Enough, right now, just as you are! Loving yourself and acknowledging that you are good enough is a very important step for releasing guilt and insecurity on your spiritual path.
2. Embrace the uniqueness of your journey
You might encounter an incredible medium, empath, yogi, or shaman, and similar gifts may or may not be awakened inside of you. One thing is clear: Your path will be uniquely yours, and not something you will be able to compare to anyone else. I believe that each person on this planet has profound spiritual gifts just waiting to be awakened, but this does not mean that everyone has the same gifts, nor does it mean that you will find out immediately what your gifts are. You might want to say, “Wow, he is so much further along than I am,” but never forget that he might be looking at you and thinking the same thing! After all, you've already come further on your spiritual path than anyone else could ever imagine.
3. Try something new.
New experiences are elemental in overcoming spiritual competition, so do your best to keep your space open and allow the universe to guide you forward. If you are introduced to someone or something that appeals to you, replace any jealousy, fear or insecurity with gratitude and inspiration: Now you get the opportunity to learn a new technique, modality or practice!
Exploring new avenues for spiritual growth will give you the chance to channel any remaining competitive energies into a positive, constructive space. Not only can this expose you to new ways of thinking, but it can open doors to life-changing spiritual transformations!
4. Remember, this is not a race!
We are naturally conditioned to move quickly through life, making to-do lists and hitting milestones in certain predetermined orders. The spiritual path is one that must unfold naturally, when you are good and ready, not according to any schedules or deadlines. So relax, breathe, and remember, this is not a race!
For example, after completing my Reiki Level 1 intonation, I excitedly tried to schedule a date for my Level 2, but my master told me not to rush it. Instead, my energy shifted in unexpected ways until the opportunity for my next intonation appeared more than one year later. My master was right, that this was not something I could have foreseen or put onto a calendar.
5. Know that we are all one.
Finally, when all else fails, remember that we are all human brothers and sisters, and we are all part of one higher conscious moving and flowing together. In this respect, spiritual competition or jealousy toward others is the same as spiritual competition towards yourself! Even the phrase “Namaste” can be understood as, “The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.”
And if we are all Divine, then we can all celebrate and benefit from each others' spiritual growth. As Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home.” Namaste :)