Comparison As a Horse Owner
Every day I struggle with comparing myself to others. I see how well other people are doing and immediately expect myself to be the same, and if I can’t live up to my own expectations: I’m a failure. If I can’t provide the same care for my horse that someone provides for their horse, I’m not good enough. If I’m not progressing as quickly in my training as other people are, then something must be wrong with me. I get so trapped in this spider web of lies as I compare myself to others, and struggle to get free. Satisfaction in my successes is minimal and my flaws are highlighted, as I compare myself to impossible standards. Sound familiar?
The danger of comparing ourselves to others is that often we are comparing their best qualities to our worst ones. We are looking at the world in black and white. The rational side of ourselves that recognizes the other person’s flaws seems to stall out for a moment, only allowing us to see the world in the bleakest way. But what if we added a little colour into the world of black and white? What if we started to unravel the spider web of lies that has us trapped in the cycle of comparison and feeling inadequate?
There is a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that says
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Comparison robs us! It takes our successes and says, “fine, but they did better, went farther, and achieved more”. Comparison tells us that we are never enough, and it sucks the life, colour, and satisfaction out of our journey with our horses. So, what happens when we breathe life and colour back into the world of black and white? What happens when we unravel the spider web of lies? Simple!
We find joy.
But how exactly do we do this?
Here comes my favourite part.
When I’m struggling with comparing myself to others I work hard to evaluate the situation objectively. I essentially take the belief that I must be at the same level as everyone else and I poke holes in it, revealing the truth.
Say for example someone is progressing much more quickly in their journey with their horse than I am with mine. They just posted a gorgeous clip of their training on Instagram, where they and their horse have mastered a behaviour that I’ve been struggling with for months. This person has been clicker training their horse for half the time I have, and yet, they seem to be improving far quicker than I am. I may start to feel inadequate and upset, until I ask myself…
Does their horse struggle with nervousness and separation anxiety like mine does? No.
Does their horse have the same health issues that mine does? No.
Do they have the same story and history with their horse that I have with mine? No.
Are they the same person as me? Do they have the same skills or weaknesses? No.
Is it possible that their horse excels at that type of behaviour and struggles with others? It is possible.
Is it possible that they have more time to work with their horse than I do? Yes!
I could go on forever, asking simple questions that highlight the MAJOR differences each team of horse and human have. No two teams are the same, so they can not be measured equally.
When I analyze a situation like this, I feel so much better. I begin to realize that comparing myself to other people is useless, because their story is nothing like mine. Why should I expect my horse and I to be in the same place they are when we are on a totally different path! And as I let go of the comparison, I start to feel free. Free to appreciate where I’m at, and free to once again experience joy.
Comparison may be the thief of joy, but we have the power to take it back. With a little bit of intentional thinking, we can unravel the web of lies and reclaim the truth. The truth that each journey is wonderfully unique, and can not be compared to anyone else’s.