Not thin enough. Not smart enough. Not rich enough.
Today, though, let’s talk about this doozy: “I’m not spiritual enough.”
It’s easy to reach this conclusion when you’re walking around in a room full of Comparison Gremlins.
These nasty buggers creep up into our brains and show us the shining example of our more advanced teachers and guides, and then they plant this thought in our minds: “(sigh) I’ll never be as divinely connected as they are.”
Translation: I’m not spiritually good enough.
And because of how defeated and drained this belief makes us feel, we tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter if we skip our meditation, or it’s okay to cancel the retreat we had booked, or we don’t need to say a prayer of gratitude before eating this meal.
We halt our own spiritual progress because we’re so intimidated by the leaps and bounds our teachers or peers have already taken.
But here’s the thing: Just as there will always be someone prettier, funnier, or more tattooed than you, there will always be that gal who is more flexible in yoga class, more consistent with her meditation practice, and has travelled to more ashrams and spiritual retreats than you ever will.
Your Comparison Gremlins will have you believe this is a travesty. They will do their best to convince you that because you’re not as bendy in yoga, don’t meditate as long or as often, and have nowhere near the frequent flier miles to and from India (if at all), you suck.
When I would find myself in those instances of self-flogging comparison, I used those Comparison Gremlin thoughts as an excuse for why I should stop working toward my dreams and goals — or at the very least alter my expectations — thereby interrupting my progress.
But The Comparison Cure saved me. I didn’t stay stuck for long. Here it is:
Moving forward despite those “not good enough” thoughts is the only thing that brings any kind of lasting relief.
And in your own spiritual work, that’s the only thing to do: Keep moving forward! At whatever pace feels best to you. Just keep moving, even if all you can muster at the moment is an intention to move forward, or a prayer of surrender about moving forward.
Here’s a personal example:
In addition to being a spiritual seeker, I’m also a writer, so my Comparison Gremlins are quick to compare me to other writers, particularly the most successful ones.
Enter: Elizabeth Gilbert. (My American Author Idol and the uber-famous writer of the bestsellers Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things.)
Here’s the truth about Liz:
She’s better than me.
Better at crafting memorable analogies, better at putting the fun in funny, and researching vast amounts of data to make it riveting and relevant. She’s far superior at bringing ancient history and classic literature to life. And that’s just for starters.
Liz appears to have traveled everywhere, and retained a somewhat encyclopedic understanding of each square foot of where she’s been.
A homebody by nature, I hang onto her every globe-trotting word from the safety of my comfy couch, and millions of other readers do too. I prefer it that way. Why should I expend the energy and expense to fling myself about when she does it so well, her retelling of events so vivid and adventurous?
But does her mastery mean I should give up writing because my name’s Linda and not Liz? Do her enviable communication skills negate my own? Does the great value sandwiched between the covers of her books mean I have nothing of value to share in mine? Lastly, because she’s already written my favorite books, is there nothing left to say?
So instead of being beaten down by the long list of Liz’s accomplishments — not the least of which includes the many hours and poses she’s logged in spiritual sanctuaries (oh, holy moly!), I can instead choose to focus on where I am and where I want to go.
It’s much more purposeful (not to mention, it feels so much more soothing) to focus on the beauty of the writing I’ve already shared with the world and all the words that are yet to come.
And my writing will only progress if I sit down at my desk and do the work. Day in. Day out.
Instead of keeping my eyes trained on others and what they’re up to, I can choose to be grateful for their example and then promptly direct my attention back to my own work, my own life, my own choices.
And it’s the same with our spiritual evolution.
Where do you want to go? What do you want your spiritual life to look like? Feel like?
Answering these questions is where I prefer to put my energy and attention. That’s the best cure for an infestation of Comparison Gremlins.
Your teachers can inspire you and give you incredible, creative ideas to try on your own, but ultimately, you alone are responsible for creating your own momentum. It’s you who must make the decision that moving forward is the only option. And, as action precedes motivation, you’ll feel more motivated once you take action.
Just as it would be insanity for you to give up your art because others have already shared their mastery with the world, to stop moving along your journey because someone out there is more experienced or appears to be (currently) better than you, is unacceptable.
I hope you believe that—and that it’s unacceptable to you, too.
Because you’ve got all it takes to do YOU better than anyone. You’ve got all you need to build the spiritual life of your dreams. We all do. Word on the street is that the divine knew what IT was doing and hardwired us directly from the factory to stay connected.
Now, use what you’ve got to plug in. For you. From you. As you.
Linda is a New York Times bestselling author, who midwifes bestselling books, 6- & 7-figure book deals and leads bi-monthly writing retreats in Carmel by the Sea, CA. She is also the co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan.