There are a lot of great hoopers in this world. We see them at festivals, in the park, on YouTube. Watching other hoopers can be helpful if we use our observations to learn and become inspired and try new things. It can be hurtful if we compare ourselves and judge either ourselves or them harshly. It can lead to feelings of jealousy, envy, inferiority, superiority and/or ego. Those things are destructive, not constructive. And judging happens fast – in just 6/10,000th of a second – too fast to prevent most of the time. We must learn to become aware of it and replace it with a healthier learning tool.

Once we label a thing “good” or “bad”, we pigeon hole it and ourselves. We set up a roadblock to seeing things differently, to our own evolution. If we judge ourselves harshly or criticize ourselves, it hurts our self esteem. It makes us feel like a failure. It fills us with regret. These are tough to build upon. If we judge another, we often create an opponent instead of a friend. We miss an opportunity to mentor or be mentored. We erect roadblocks to both learning and relationships. We create a world where we think others are probably judging us harshly also.

So what can we do instead? We must learn to observe without harsh judgments and to learn without criticizing ourselves or someone else.

Cultivating non-comparison requires being present in our own experience. We are exactly where we are supposed to be. We mustn't get derailed in the ditch alongside the learning curve.

Non-comparison is about nurturing the Now. It is about not comparing yourself to anyone else but diving deeper into your own experience in this moment. It's about not comparing yourself to who you have been in the past or who you would like to be in the future. It's about being present, now. It's about honoring your own path, the direction of which lives in this very moment.

Now is where your power lies. The past is gone and tomorrow is always a day away. The only place where you can effectively change your past or your future is in this moment. Your past contains everything that has led up to Now, yet you reshape your past every time you revisit it. You reshape it with how you frame it, with what stories you replay, with how you choose to remember them and tell them.

The future is also in this moment. It will be built upon everything you think, every choice you make, every act you do, right here, right now. Concentration requires taking things moment by moment. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” I'd take that a step further and remind you that actually, it only comes one moment at a time.

Be Here Now.

Yes, we compare ourselves to others. It's part of the human condition. We compare ourselves to who we think we should be. We compare ourselves to who we've been in the past. We compare ourselves with who we'd like to be in the future, especially some idealized future version of ourselves, the version where we finally “get it all right”. We compare and compare and compare... And why? Because that's how we learn. We observe and compare and assess and then we make changes. (Or we don't.) It's part of our learning process. It's how we evolve. The trick is to learn to observe in a more clinical way. Scientists do not assign labels of “good” or “bad” to things. They just observe and collect data. Our challenge is to observe and collect the data we require for learning without criticizing ourselves or anyone else while we collect it.

It helps me to remember that I am my own best coach, cheerleader, teacher, student, friend and partner. I try to nurture myself in the same way I would nurture anyone else I loved. This helps me be on my own side and creates a space where I can turn all those “shoulds” into “coulds”.

Hooping is not a competition. Comparing yourself to someone else always results in your feeling either inferior or superior. If we come up short, we can become disillusioned, beat ourselves up, feel regretful, even thwart ourselves from achieving our goals. And let's face it, if we're comparing our weaknesses to someone else's strengths, we are setting ourselves up to lose.

Even if we judge ourselves to be “the better one”, the boost to our ego is short lived. There will always be someone better than us, or some up-and-coming hooper to threaten us. So if we're getting our sense of value fom comparing ourselves to other hoopers, that sense of value is tenuous at best. It exists outside of us instead of inside of us. It changes as the people around us change. In the end, we often end up resenting other hoopers when they do well and this is an unhappy place to live. It feeds our own insecurity, jealousy, envy and inadequacy. Instead, I encourage you to refuse to criticize another hooper. Ever. Choose to support others in their success and celebrate it. This will bring you success. That upon which we place our attention grows. What we give out returns to us multiplied.

Most of us unknowingly compare ourselves to others in a harsh and dualistic way. We live in a society that values competition and those concepts are reinforced at every turn. So how do we stop? The first step is to observe our own behavior. We must develop awareness. Once we recognize we are comparing ourselves against someone else, we're on our way to changing the habit.

The second step is to not criticize ourselves once we recognize that we're comparing. It's easy to go, “Damn! There I go comparing again. I'm so stupid.” No no no no no. This awareness is a happy milestone. It is an important first step. We are becoming aware of our habit of comparison. It is coming into our consciousness where we can actually evaluate it and do something about it. Instead, of beating ourselves up, we can celebrate this new found awareness. It is the first step toward freedom.

Pat yourself on the back. Say out loud, “Good for me!” Then check yourself before your wreck yourself. As you start to move into criticism or harsh judging, say out loud, “Stop that!” or “Slow down there sister.” or “Oh no you don't. I approve of myself.” or “Good for them!” Then gently place your attention back in the Now. Breathe. Focus on your breath. Focus on this moment. Become aware of your surroundings. Experience what's happening in your body. Be. Here. Now.

Next, be grateful for what you have. Place your attention on what brings you to hooping. What are the benefits for you? What are your blessings? Who are your blessings? Focus on the health, the happiness, the relationships... Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings. Nothing brings you into the Now faster than being grateful for what you have right now.

Then focus on your strengths. Celebrate them. What do you do well? Pat yourself on the back for that! What are your special skills? Good for you! What talents do you have? Right on! What aspects of your personality or routine or character serve you well in your hoop journey? Kudos to you! Concentrate on these. They make you stronger. They are the tools in your tool belt.

Realistically, there will always be someone better than you and someone worse than you but there will never be anyone else like You! You are unique and more wondrous than you know.

Stop seeing your imperfections.
Start seeing your perfection!

When it comes to our hoop skills, no one is perfect. Not even the best hooper in the world. So, no, you're not perfect. And you never will be. Get used to it. Put that behind you and be okay with being the best you can be right now. Keep trying to improve but be okay with imperfection. Your imperfections only add to your uniqueness. They are your portals of self-discovery! Gifts, given to you to learn from. Embrace them.

More than that, remember that you are already perfect. You're nothing less than a miracle! A creation of whatever force animates the entire universe. The universe is 15 billion years old and in all that time there has never been another you and there will never be another you again. You are a constantly evolving mosaic of possibility, a tapestry of life experience like no other. You are amazing. Celebrate your Self. You are a wonder!

Lovingly focus on your own hoop journey. There is not another like it in the world. If you knew now all there is to know about hooping, if this knowledge was somehow bestowed upon you without your overcoming the challenges that are yours to overcome, the hurtles that are an integral part of your learning, of your path, well, that would take all the fun out of it, wouldn't it? You'd have nothing to look back on and feel proud. Your understanding would not be as deep. I know how to drive a car but I've never built a car. If I'd built a car, imagine how much greater my understanding of that car would be.

So when your mind wanders, which it will, when you find yourself comparing, which you will, gently remind yourself: Be. Here. Now.

And when you find your mind wandering again, remind yourself again: Be. Here. Now.

And when you find yourself comparing or criticizing or harshly judging, give yourself a break. Check in. Breathe. And Be. Here. Now.

It is a practice, like hooping. You'll get better with time and patience. Just remember, this moment is your gift, the only thing in the world guaranteed you – this moment. Now. That's why we call it the Present.

Be. Here. Now.

Life is not about the destination. It's about the journey. And while the journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step, it's all the steps in between where the adventures lie. Your journey has nothing to do with how well someone else does and everything to do with what you do, right here, right now.

Your power lies in you and in this moment. Seize this opportunity. Savor this moment. For it shall never come again.

Views: 165

Comment by Lady Bird on February 22, 2010 at 5:58pm
I have been struggling with this a lot lately. With one friend/hooper in particular. I feel the intense need for competition from her and sometimes my envy or own competitiveness gets in the way. I appreciate this post, because it is a great reminder and helps me understand those feelings, and that I am not alone in them when the occur.
Thank you :)

Comment by disco* Lissa on February 22, 2010 at 9:18pm
Or as they say: 'Dance like no one else is watching.' Love that moment.

Comment by Shews *Eclipse* on February 23, 2010 at 11:19am
it reminds me of my yoga training when i was getting certified. The philosophy of studying oneself is truly powerful. It all begins in the head; think positive. Be nice to yourself. Love and understand yourself. These thoughts will resonate into how you interact with others. "Be. Here. Now." my teacher said that all the time too. It's so true.
I really enjoyed reading this. It was a good reminder, if we want to create such a postive, supporting & loving community, it does start with ourselves.

Comment by l "lady lamb" to the inz on February 23, 2010 at 11:32am
this was good powerful much needed post

Comment by Tarapin Goddessa on February 24, 2010 at 12:20pm
thank you caroleena. so much. your words touch me and allow me focus on whats important. this moment.
Comment by Traci "CircularPraise" Bonney on February 25, 2010 at 11:37am
Another well-timed and well-written journal entry, Caroleeena.

As I read it, I thought of the verse in the Bible that says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Most people read it "Now, faith is..." as in "Understand" (or "See here" or "Mira" or "Regardez" or however you might say it).

The thing is, there's no comma in the verse. It's saying Now Faith Is, in much the same way you're saying Be Here Now. Faith is Now. It only operates effectively in the here and now.

So, trust now, believe now, love now, be here now. Because, as you said so eloquently, now is what we're given.
Comment by Melissa on February 25, 2010 at 2:11pm
love this!

Comment by claudia hays on March 25, 2010 at 8:01pm
I know I've never had the pleasure of meeting you, Caroleeena, but I wanted to thank you for putting out so much goodness into our hooping community. You always seem to have a knack for writing about issues that we all (myself included) deal with on a regular basis. can't thank you enough. This especially is such a touchy subject that I, at least, have always been ashamed of for feeling - as our community is based on openness and acceptance. Your words here explain it so eloquently and provide such a simple, yet difficult to face at times, solution.

also - two of my students (actually, my only students - Kelleen Simons and Stephanie Davis) attended your workshop - in Alabama, I believe - and had wonderful things to say about you and even gave me some tips on how I could improve as a hoop instructor that they learned from your workshop. It really impressed me how open you are - something to strive toward.
Comment by Zayden on July 14, 2010 at 12:16pm
This is beautiful. I really appreciate the time you point into sharing this. It applies to everything not just hooping. I hope you don't mind me sharing it with others. :)
Comment by Kitty Kat on October 3, 2010 at 9:57am
Beautiful post, perfect for where I am in my journey! Thank you :)


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