I spent much of last year hiding out. I had plans for Inner Compass Designs and for my own personal growth and halfway through the year I pretty much threw in the towel and retreated.
There was a clear trigger, but I could have recovered and moved forward, but instead let it get to me so deeply that I fed into it further and let it snowball until I was completely undercover and could not find my way out.
What could derail me so completely?
I got caught in the net of comparisonitis.
I had jewelry pieces in the group exhibition at the studio where I had studied silversmithing. Even though I had been studying and practicing there for a few years and knew that very little sells at the exhibitions I had high hopes for myself. A fellow metal smith had bought one my new rings before I even got it into the display case. I had worked hard and priced my pieces fairly. I was sure it was going to be a hit (even though I knew the reality of exhibitions). None of my other pieces sold which would have been okay, but when I went to pick them up I saw that a man in my studio group had sold five pairs of earrings. That was it. In my brain I took that simple piece of information and ran with it- questioning myself, my abilities, my business and eventually the personal areas of my life. I felt like I should just give up already.
I fell into the comparison trap and did not know how to get out.
Once inside the trap it is amazing how comparisonitis can start to permeate all areas of your life. Noticing how much nicer your friend’s house is (wow our house is crap) or how adoring another friend’s husband seems to be (they must have a perfect marriage) or how successful an artist is on Instagram (I will never be good enough)… And so the stories go.
It took me many months to get my focus back where it needed to be – in my own lane- and to let go of that urge to compare myself to what others are doing, what they have, and where they are going in life.
I think it is harder to avoid these days thanks to social media- we seem to get snippets of awesomeness from everyone from the school mums to celebrities – and in our minds it all adds up into a composite of us being “less than”.
We rarely compare our whole life with someone else’s whole life . We take the awesome house that is picture perfect and combine it with the beautiful work being done by another and add in the juicy marriage someone else has and round it off with the fit as a fiddle body another has.
Almost no one has this level of awesome in all areas of life.
Some lessons I finally absorbed while digging out of that hole:
There is room for all of us / all types of people/ all work. Keep being you.
Just because one type of art is getting masses of likes on Instagram or one person’s business seems to be booming, does not mean there is no chance for you. Keep being yourself and showing up and you will find your space, connect with your people, and move forward in your own way.
The temptation is to follow in the steps of someone who seems to have it all sorted, but then you are not being true to yourself. Much of what has brought them success/happiness/love/health has come as a result of the specific path they have walked. Walking our own path will lead us to OUR version of that success etc.
We are all flawed and complex and imperfect.
Sometimes we are seeing the good stuff from other people and we forget that it is not the whole story, but a moment in time – everyone has problems and flaws. It is easy to convince ourselves that they have the golden ticket and their version of life is better than ours.
Reduce expectations and pressure on yourself – holding yourself up to such a high standard of perfect results / image / success that will always end up with you feeling less than because it is unattainable.
Accept yourself for who you are, where you are right now and tap into appreciation and gratitude. You can simultaneously accept yourself (by treating yourself with love, kindness and compassion) while still striving to improve your life and achieve your goals.
Turn your attention back to yourself and learn and grow in your own journey.
When we look at others and what they have/are/do we are focused on the end result we may want for ourselves. If you are on step 3 and they are at step 10 it is unrealistic to think you should be there too. Where are you in your own journey and what is NEXT for you? Your step 4 is where you need to focus. If you want that beautiful house, but live in a tiny place that is cluttered and chaotic there is a lot of ground between the two homes and you can start right now with steps to make your home better for you, plans for the future and how you will get there and making peace with the time it will take.
Also get clear on what you actually have and what you really want. If it would take 80 hours a week to achieve the success you are coveting and that is not aligned with how you want to live than maybe your eyes are on the wrong people to begin with. Maybe some of what you are comparing to is not what you really want when you are honest with yourself. Not everyone wants or needs to be super fit or have a big house or work full time on their business.
Control what you see / absorb
We can control what and how much we take in online and choose who we spend time with in real life.
- If following someone/ being friends with them constantly takes you to a bad place or full of negative feelings (instead of happy for them and supportive) maybe you need to unfollow or add distance. This helped me a ton- I could see who triggered these feelings in me (it was a select handful) and just let them go.
- what you are reading/ listening to/watching can work to your advantage and keep you moving forward (whether with inspiration or tips) or can actually feed into that comparison and pressure. filter what is out there and only keep connected to those sources that help! Unsubscribe!
- take occasional breaks from social media- when all else fails take a complete break and reconnect to your own reality and living your life with blinders on. Get perspective and quiet the voices in your head.
Do you have any other tips for how to quiet that comparison when it comes up? Is this not an issue for you at all?
Love and light