So obviously, you would normally tie your own belt. I mean this as a metaphor. If you do yoga you’ve probably heard a similar saying – "stay on your own mat".
Stay on your own mat
It's human nature to constantly compare ourselves against other people. In psychology it’s known as Social Comparison Theory (just to make clear, I’m not a psychologist), and it’s instilled in us from a young age. Growing up, it's noted how much taller, or shorter, you are compared to your peers; grades and qualifications at school are measured; sports day is always competitive – even your personality is compared.
Yes, there is comparison within the karate world – that’s basically what competition is about, and in no way is that a bad thing. But what you need to remember is originally karate was about self-defense (note the word self in there!)
By comparing yourself to others, you are reinforcing the negative thoughts that each of us have: "her kicks are better than mine", "he’s stronger than me", "how can they do the splits, I can barely touch my toes?"
The only person that you should compare yourself to is yourself. If you can be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you are today, then that is the path to success. This is the case in whatever you do.
Focus on tying your own belt
Next time you are in the dojo, or training with someone, don't try and block those negative thoughts out as they will just keep coming back. Instead, take note of them and let them go (like watching a cloud in the sky).
If you can only kick to the stomach, that's fine. If you can't quite get the hand of a spinning reverse-jumping kick while solving a Rubik's cube, that's fine too. However, if the following day, you kick slightly higher, then amazing! The competition is against yourself, no one else.
So remember, when you’re next in the dojo, or flicking through Instagram, remind yourself that everyone is different. Everybody has a different past and we have all struggled with something, so be kind to yourself and concentrate on you.