The comparison trap is an ugly thing that can pervade all areas of our life if we allow it. It thrives on insecurity and low self-esteem. In the spiritual community, sometimes it thrives as a direct result of certain people trying to make us feel like we are less than them. Less spiritual, less committed, less gifted, etc.
And it’s a bunch of bullshit.
Every one of us has an individualized path with our own individual gifts and experiences. There’s no one size fits all, and no true standard to measure everyone by. To look at someone else and focus on their gifts or experience and then feel as if you don’t measure up in your own because it doesn’t match is to entirely miss what you have within you.
When we lose focus on what we have to offer, when we lose focus on living our lives in loyalty to who we truly are because someone else seems shinier, we give away our power and diminish our own contributions.
We all have our strong suits and our limitations. Many gifts and abilities have come to some of us at great cost, and this is an aspect that is rarely talked about. The ugly side of things, what it really took to get where a person is now, what they had to go through, is often entire glossed over or ignored in favor of holding up the end result as a prize.
For example, many with open and clear psychic and empathic abilities went through extreme trauma and had these abilities awakened as a result. Now confident in their abilities, they don’t necessarily talk about how they got there. Of course, it is always the prerogative of an individual to decide who and when to tell about their personal experiences, and in our society there is tons of stigma around spiritual people sharing their trauma because of some strange collective desire for perfection, so this isn’t the point. The point is, it’s not always a smooth and easy path and you may not realize what you’re really asking for when you see something in another and then wish for it in yourself.
And let’s not forget that abilities manifest in a variety of ways. Many times, because someone talks about a way an experience or ability manifests in their life, it’s easy to think that you don’t have that ability because it’s not manifesting the same way in your life. I’ve written about spirit communication. It may be tempting to think that I just hang out with a little spirit clique who talk to me like my regular friends and family do. Wouldn’t that be simple?
Sometimes I’ll get a direct and clear message in that fashion, but it’s not the main way communication occurs. Sometimes they’ll communicate through music, or television, or other people, or the movement of animals, or the unfolding of circumstances, or through dreams, or (most often) with feelings and energy shifts. Chances are spirits are trying to communicate with you in a variety of ways as well. The key is recognizing it when it happens and not getting caught up in how it happens for other people- including me.
As far as those who boast as a way to assert some kind of superiority, well, it’s clear that they’re the toxic kind of spiritual. Interacting with people like this usually results in spiritual one-upping. When you just want to share a cool experience and build the spiritual side of the friendship but they counter with their ‘more awesome’ experience, they’re trying to lure you into a competition and crush your self-esteem at the same time. There’s no need to engage, and it will just drain your energy and good will if you do.
Sometimes this toxic spirituality will even manifest as someone trying to get you to do something that isn’t in your best interests and is likely for their own benefit. Spiritual predators come in many forms, and often the one-upping leads to situations like this. These people will tell you that “spirit told them you should do ____ (insert action that benefits the messenger). Run. This situation is difficult to counter because there’s really no argument for someone’s experiences, but the fact is, you don’t have to validate these kinds of “messages” (aka manipulations) by giving in.
It would be one thing if someone, who had no stake at all in what happens, gave you a message they received that rings true and is beneficial for you. This message would not have anything to do with the messenger and their desires. Sometimes messages do come through others for us when we can’t hear it on our own. You’ll know it’s legitimacy by whether or not it’s genuine to your experience and beneficial to your circumstances.
I always recommend looking at the fruit of someone’s life, too. For example, if someone is claiming to receive continuous visions and revelations while their life is a shitshow because of the choices they make, they’re either lying or ignoring the advice that’s given.
You don’t need a guru, and you don’t need to surround yourself with anyone who maintains that their experiences are superior or more authentic than yours.
When you feel that stinging thought of “I don’t experience that, maybe I’m not…” stop right there. Tell that thought to fuck right off. You’re not left out of the fold. You’re a spiritual being, just as the rest of us are. You’ve got great gifts and talents to bring to the world. Hone them, do all that you can with them, and don’t worry about anyone else.
Jessica Jascha is a Clinical Herbalist, Intuitive Consultant and writer in Minnesota. She also writes for Witch Way Magazine. She owns Jascha Botanicals and Owl in the Oak Tarot where she gives readings, teaches ritual, and provides holistic consultations. You can find her on Facebook.