Comparing Yourself To Your Spiritual Teachers? You Need The Comparison Cure

high res linda headshot

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?

Why indeed.

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?

Absurd, right?

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.

Yours,

Linda xx

###

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.

Find Linda at BookMama.com, on Facebook and Twitter @LindaSivertsen.

  • Linda

    Nicely said. Thank you for the kick-start!

  • The Naked Lady

    Well said, Linda! Loved this. You made me think: someone came up with “yoga”, an actual human being, just like us. Whose to say that someone won’t come up with something even better (waiting for lightening to strike…no, nothing yet) to WING us into enlightenment in NDE moments? Why do we think that it’s already been done, it’s already been written, it’s already been said. Well, no it hasn’t…just got here. Life’s in diapers. Keep on using your words:)

    • Someone made up yoga? 🙂 Fun thoughts; thanks Naked Lady!

  • Brian in Denver

    Linda, Love how real your post is… Sharing your experience in its raw form. Beautiful. Thank you! Love Brian in Denver

  • Erika

    I don’t know you and I don’t know her but I bet if Liz had read a couple of your books and found out some details from YOUR life – how you act towards others, the good your spread, your love and service, what your particular gifts and talents are – she may be able to come up with her own list of how Linda is “better than” Liz. 🙂

    • Guest

      Ha! That’s hilarious, and wonderful. Bless you, Erika! xo

  • Carol

    Love this!!! “Action precedes motivation” is the golden brick in this article full of ’em! So easy to forget that… Glad you keep taking action! The world needs an army of Lizzes and Lindas… xoxox

  • Leanne Wood

    Have so been there! I remember sitting in a group, looking around the room as it appeared to be filled with so many super spiritually evolved people in deep, other-worldly meditation, while I sat and tried NOT to focus on the fact that my feet were falling asleep from being in lotus position too long.

  • Laura Rothschild

    Linda! Such divine words! In Carmel you told me no one can write what is uniquely me. We really do owe it to the world to cherish (and share) our gifts. It’s easy to stay in the shadow of those we admire. Taking action is scary and makes us vulnerable. Imagine if Liz didn’t take action? We’d have missed out on her amazing talent! Thank you for your loving nudge.

    • My life would be so different if Liz didn’t write, right? 🙂 Yours, too, I know. I’m so looking forward to your first book release, as your characters POP off the page. I can picture them all now, and hear their Italian accents:) xo

  • Matthew Taylor

    Such brilliant insights! I compare my writing all too often to John Green, and end up feeling empty when I do so. Gotta remember, there’s still something to say… and I’m going to say it!

    • Love this, Matthew. And, one day I’m willing to bet John Green will likewise look up to you! After having the honor of reading your work for years, I have no doubt. xx

  • Ellen Debenport

    Oh yes! The spiritual comparison grew exponentially when I became a minister, because now I’ve gotta be the most spiritual person in the room, right? I see people blossoming with their new spiritual practices or understandings, and I want to say, “Wait a minute, I TAUGHT you that!” And my envy of how well their lives are working just proves again that I’m not spiritual enough. Sheesh!

    Thanks for helping me laugh about it today.

    • Wow, Ellen. It never occurred to me that ministers wouldn’t feel spiritual enough–but of course! Oh, Lord. Thank you so much for the share. Sheesh is right! 🙂

  • Lynne Klippel

    I thought I was the only one who had these gremlins about not being spiritual enough! Thank you for bringing this topic up to the light so we can all breathe a sigh of relief and just be gloriously us!

    • Ha! Isn’t it fun to find out we’re all neurotic in the same ridiculous ways? 🙂 xo

  • Leslie

    I often think that this is what we’re here for – to share our totally UNIQUE internal worlds with each other through our individual artistic expression. It’s the way we invite each other to visit our inner dwellings, and the feasts of experience we have acquired over the countless moments we’ve been in bodies. I’m a ONE AND ONLY in a sea of ONE AND ONLYS. This is my sandbox of choice.

    And you Linda create one of the most astoundingly wonderful, fertile, playful, magical, creational, pleasureful, delicious, warm and loving sandboxes in which to play. I’ve never met you, but I spent two hours one night on your site, fantasizing about your retreats, feeling the brilliance and beauty you bring to each person blessed to be there.

    Let’s see – who could I compare that to? Oh right – there doesn’t seem to be anyone at all.

    I shall have the pleasure of “meeting” you on the SARK December 11th “Colorful Conversation”. I can’t wait!

    Thank you for being you – the gift that keeps on giving! xoxoxoxo

    • Wow. What a dream note, Leslie. If you’re trying to make my day–make that my month–you’ve done it. I LOVE your sandbox of choice and choose to play there too! Big, big hugs to you. xxx

  • Bobbie Spivey

    Linda, I am sure you have discovered that this decision needs to be made daily – maybe even hourly for those of us who pretend to be shy and are only scared of our powerful potential voice. Every time I receive acknowledgement for a well written piece, it gives me strength to sit down and write again…. but it lasts only a day. I love the one quote from the book you are reading that talks about our inner spirit feeling unlovable and petulant. Way too often this drums be down and I have to pick back up and fight for the surface again.

    • You’re right, Bobbie! It’s a daily, even hourly decision. Phew. Does knowing that make it easier? Not always, but fortunately, sometimes… xo

  • Natalie

    Linda your words are the caramel or chocolate on top of a sundae and the kale in a fresh green drink full of sweetness and strength. Thank you for the inspiration and dedication to sharing your journey with us. This passage gives me fuel to keep working on my book and to keep risking and taking one step at a time, then another and another.. Blessings to you! xox

  • jennifer lee

    So true!! I always find my yoga students saying things like ‘oh, I’m sure you don’t eat this’ or ‘Oh, you probably never do that’, and I’m like HA! I sure do. It’s so important to just be who we are. Thanks Linda. xo

  • Leslie

    Well put Linda. We all need this reminder once in a while. I’m convinced even Liz Gilbert would have her own stories of not feeling worthy or feeling less-than. I’m sharing this with a few friends right now!

  • “Moving forward despite those ‘not good enough’ thoughts is the only thing that brings any kind of lasting relief.” Worth remembering! Thank you ; )

  • Donna O’Klock

    Your last line really touched my heart!
    Thank you…for being so you. XO

  • Robin Hammer

    “You alone are responsible for creating your own momentum…and, as action precedes motivation, you’ll feel more motivated once you take action.” So true, Linda! No matter how much I want to just “feel” like moving forward after being bombarded with those “not good enough” moments, it’s just not going to happen. I have to make the decision to put one foot in front of the other no matter how rough it’s been. Then, and only then, do I start to feel like I can do it again. Thanks for the reminder, Linda. So helpful, as always. 🙂