Not Fair to Compare


"Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else." - Margaret Mead

One of the most remarkable revelations I've ever received, was discovering just how useless comparing myself to others is.  Unfortunately, I struggled with this misconception for more years that I care to admit. 

It started around high school when I slowly began unjustly judging myself on a great number of things.  Whether it was my athletic prowess in gym class, my popularity among the student body, or my academic performance, I would regularly measure myself against the talent, charisma, and intellect of others.

This tendency lamentably lingered on into my young adulthood, where I put away my childish judgement ruler and began scrutinizing my strengths and weaknesses using a much bigger, more adult yardstick.  

I graduated to comparing job titles, income, vehicle make and models, and other worldly possessions as my perceived basic standards of success.

Too Hard on Yourself

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Franklin Roosevelt

My tendency to compare may have worked in my favor had I used it as a motivational tool for personal growth.  Instead it became a source of pain because I took the strengths of others and compared them to my weaknesses, so it seemed to me as if I was failing.

This sort of self-criticism obviously doesn't feel good!

Self-judgement is often at the root of our pain.  We judge ourselves harshly, we judge our past, present, and future experiences, and we even judge our feelings.

From my limited and shortsighted perspective, everyone seemed to be doing better than me, as I hadn’t yet learned how to:

  • Create my own standards for success

  • Choose my own path of fulfillment

  • Set goals that were authentic and not superficial

As a result, I felt as if I were constantly marinating in a stew of disappointment, frustration, discouragement, anger, and anxiety.

The Consequence is Low Self-Confidence

"Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle or your middle to someone else's end." - Tim Hiller

When we compare ourselves, our self-esteem takes a major hit - This could cause us to stop pursuing our goals and dreams before we even really get going.

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For example, when I first began writing picture books, I would often compare myself to other authors.  However, I made the mistake of measuring my efforts against writers who had been in the game for years - writers who had paid their dues behind the scenes and were justifiability being rewarded the fruits of their labor.  They were experiencing a level of success that took them sometimes years to gain, yet I wished to be decorated with those same accolades right out of the gate.

Was it fair to compare my beginning effort to someone else's middle effort?

Instead, of comparing, I learned to focus on my strengths - writing honest, substantive stories that have meaning for me; knowing that with some effort and patience, I would manifest what success looked like for me!

You Do You, I'll Do Me

"Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

It's so cool that we have the ability to acknowledge the fact that so many people have a variety of talents - and when those people let their talent shine, we can all benefit from that.  However, we should try spending a little more time focusing on our own talents and strengths instead of the strengths of others.  We will be of greater service to ourselves and those whose lives we touch by developing a true awareness of our own value and self-worth.

How do we go about learning what our value is? Here's a link to The Seven Signs You Know Your Value.

Develop Resilience

"To love is to stop comparing." - Bernard Grasset

So how do we stop squandering our happiness and get out of the comparison trap?

Be aware.  We've been comparing ourselves to others for so long that it has become a bad habit.  Like other bad habits, we must first admit that we have a problem to become more conscious.  Becoming aware of the thoughts that are going through our minds helps us to identify who or what triggers our envious thoughts.  Be mindful of the fact that these thoughts add no value to our lives and STOP!

Pause.  Remember that these are real emotions that may show up every day, or even moment to moment.  Putting them in their proper place will take time and practice.  Don't beat yourself up! Acknowledge the thought and then shift focus.

Be grateful. Shift your focus back to yourself and what you’ve already been blessed with.  Count what you have and look forward to the things you plan to gain by focusing on following your unique path.

Have hope.  To compare as a source of motivation is one thing, but to "covet" is not cool! Do you admire these people, or do you want what they have?  Let's be real, you will never have exactly what they have.  It may look similar, but it will always be different.  Embrace that fact.  You can use people as motivation because they inspire you, but when you just want their "stuff" then you've entered into unhealthy territory.

The only person you should be better than, is who you were yesterday.

Remember that they are just people too, and if they can do great things, so can you.  

Don't fall for the okey-doke by allowing other people's successes to make you feel a sense of lack.  Flip the script and use comparisons as motivation to become a better person so that maybe you can use that energy to increase the joy in your own little corner of the world.

MB


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Making Peace With The Inconsistency of The Path

 

One of the reasons I’ve been reluctant to share my work publicly is that nauseous feeling that takes over me when I look back at what I created, wrote or drew few years, few months or even few weeks ago.

It is something I noticed very long time ago, when I’d flip a few pages of my diary and feel like there was a completely different person logging in only a few days before. Needless to say, nobody was actually stealing my diary and pouring their deepest secrets on its dotted lines, but at times it’d almost seem so. My handwriting would change, the style in which I would write, the vocabulary I’d used - which are all pretty normal and temporary things that can change in short time-spans - but the aspect that horrified me the most was the essence of the human behind my scribblings, the opinions, feelings, approaches and mind-states which were transforming all so damn fast and abruptly that at some point I started to doubt all of my thoughts and opinions, asking if I’d be ashamed of them in a few weeks, just like now I am ashamed of what was standing in their place some ten days ago?

Horrified by these fast-paced changes in my creative expression and shame and disgust I’d feel when looking at my earlier work, be it writings, poetry, paintings, drawings or photography - I was postponing sharing them with others, even just with my friends on Instagram. On the other hand, I wanted to do it so badly. I’d be seeing other artists and creative souls sharing their work online and would feel so attracted to do the same, but there was that underlying fear of looking back and being ashamed of my work. I had been promising myself that I’d do it when I get just a tiny bit better, when my English improves, or when my paintings look a bit more “presentable”, whatever the fuck it means.

Time passed and nothing changed. My perfectionist side kept sabotaging me and preventing me from sharing my art with others and once I got aware of it - of the pattern that has been repeating on and on for years, I just decided to do it as I realized that I’d never be completely satisfied with anything I create or write and therefore there’ll never be the perfect moment to take the leap of faith and put myself and my work out there.

I got over my pride, told my fear to take the back seat and started to put some of my drawings and paintings on Instagram. When it stopped being scary and nerve-wrecking, I took it a step further and started sharing even the stuff I thought bad and shitty for the sole purpose of putting myself in the midst of discomfort and getting rid of the pressure that every single thing I create should be good. If I allowed myself to create stuff I wasn’t necessarily proud of and started to see it as a part of journey, step stones on the path of creative evolvement, it’d suddenly all become less important and I could focus just on that - growth, evolution, learning - instead of dwelling on previous work that didn’t meet the impossibly high standards that I tend to set for myself.

That step opened the gates to new creative freedom that I didn’t even know existed! Once liberated of the pressure to always create something “perfect”, my creative juices started to overflow and my production increased immensely! I rarely look back on my previous work and if I do so, it is only to see how much progress I made and not anymore to beat myself up for the lack of skills that I notice in my earlier works. The funny thing, also, is that some of my artwork that I really didn’t like from the beginning received the most praise and positive feedback while paintings I was stoked about and proud of sometimes received very average feedback. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing!

I want you to start creating more and do it for the mere joy that comes through the process. Share your creative magic with others and let it touch their souls - and, most importantly, don’t judge your work and keep it for yourself until it reaches ‘perfection”, you never know what can resonate with whom! Maybe exactly that poem you are ashamed of sharing is what someone needs to hear in this very moment - we never know what can ease someone’s pain or bring some light and hope to their day.

Love you all and stay creative,

Maja


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