Creative Types: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

“Just as much as we see in others, we have in ourselves.” ~William Hazlitt

Most days I am a dedicated writer and artist, focused and working away with my oh-so-happy hands.

Most days I feel inspired to share adventures and insights from living in Paris for over two years while going to graduate school. Or referencing the intense spiritual work and personal growth I’ve experienced in recent years. Or describing how I quit the unfulfilling rat-race to focus on my passion and my life dreams.

Most days I have confidence and pride in my personal creations and feel pretty darn good about my creative ideas. Most days I am on a roll.

Then there are the other days.

The days where I spend too much time on the Internet looking at what other people are doing and comparing their brilliance to my efforts. The days where I find myself at a library staring down the rows of books, wondering if my writing is enough. The days where I count numbers and look at blog data that isn’t quite impressive yet.

So many people are already acclaimed writers, bloggers, artists, and creative experts. Is there even room for one more?

On those days, my head gets spinning in creative comparison, and I can’t get out of it. My energy plummets down, down, down, as if sinking to the ocean floor.

What do I have to offer that is different and new? Are “they” more talented, creative, recognized, and special than I am? Are “they” more qualified to write with more incredibly brilliant things to say?

I decide to get out of the house when I can’t get the comparisons out of my head.  Exercising, grabbing a cup of tea, reading a book, and sitting in a park are all great remedies. But there is one place in particular where I love to go to turn my mind off: Ikea.

I am in love with Ikea. And I like to believe that Ikea is in love with me because of how often I invest quality time in our blue-and-yellow relationship. If they offered personally monogrammed shopping bags, I would use mine as a purse.

Strolling through the giant store is an immediate spark for my visual senses. I follow the winding path, my heart leading the way, and stop in the warmth of the lighting section. Dang, this area is bright.

Hundreds of lights adorn every surface and direction. Each light offers a different vibrancy, size, and function. I notice how there’s room for all to shine their full wattage.

I loiter in the middle of the surrounding fixtures, as some illuminating thoughts about dealing with creative comparison pass through my mind.

1. Recognize specifically what is triggering the comparison.

Is it the desire to be “seen” and acknowledged? The fear of not being valued? Confirmation of not doing the “right” thing?

Let that vulnerable part surface and be seen. Allow it to be heard. Bring it to the light.

2. Send that vulnerable part high-wattage love, big hugs, and warm understanding.

Send it confirmation that comparing is part of human nature at times. We are social beings who want to see where we fit into the social fabric around us.

Take the comparison simply as a “checking in point” for what is possible in the world. Use the vulnerability as a place of inspiration. Send it more high-wattage love.

3. Compare and despair? It rhymes, so it’s an easy adage to remember, but it’s not a productive thought. Replace those two words with this rhyming pair: Admire and inspire.

The best of others bring out the best in us. What a gift to have so many people to find inspiration from! What a blessing to feel creative energy from others! Allow the light of others to light a bigger path for yourself.

4. Remember: everyone has two hands and one mind that they can use to create, but we are each blessed with a unique creative voice from our individual souls.

Never doubt the power of what you are compelled to offer.

Your soul essence has a light that is yours to broadcast and share. No one else can share your soul’s creative voice in the world. Your soul only knows your personal truth and can only steer you in that direction.

5. Realize that what you are called to do in your heart is what you are called to do for the hearts of others.

Claiming your soul’s purpose without expectation, judgment, or attachment is the primary commitment.  You lose nothing and gain everything by shining your light brightly.

There is room for all of the many lights in the world to shine brightly and boldly.

Ahhhh. I now feel so relaxed and calm after standing here with my heart light blazing.

I see much more clearly now how the world needs as many lights to shine as possible. Every light is valuable, seen, and special. Every light brings unique energy beyond what can be measured.  Every light is a gift to and from the soul.

I believe it’s the reason why we are all here: to shine boldly from the heart light that is waiting for us to turn—and leave—it on.

I purchase my must-have items and pass up the urge to grab a cup of meatballs for $1. There is one problem with thinking so positively in Ikea: the yellow bag sure does get heavy.

As I leave the parking garage, I have one more thought about the enlightening lighting department.  It’s silly, but it makes me happy.

I have this visual that every night, each light is turned off one by one to go to sleep—errr, save energy. As a single light flicks off, all of the other lights say, “Thank you for adding so much warmth and beauty to the room today! It was perfect! See you tomorrow for another day of light!”

Then another light is turned off, and all the other lights say, “Thank you for doing your best today! We saw it and we recognize you! See you tomorrow for another day of light!”

Then another is light turned off, and all the lights say, “You were so amazing! We were so happy to be in your glow today! See you tomorrow for another day of light!”

And on and on it goes until every light is asleep.

The next morning, they all turn on with fresh energy, strength, and willingness to shine even more brightly—without stress or comparisons.

Photo by pedrosimoes7

About Molly McCord

Molly McCord is a writer, teacher and contributing author to The Thought That Changed My Life Forever (Imbue Press, Winter 2011). She created the website Conscious Cool Chic where you can grab a few free guided meditations. And be sure to connect on Facebook for almost-daily inspiring thoughts and messages.

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