How Comparing Yourself to Others Kills Your Potential

Have you noticed how your feel after looking at other people’s work? Do you feel uplifted, or do you want to crawl back under the sheets? My guess is, it's not the former. In today’s hyper connected world, it is extremely easy to see other creatives producing amazing work of high quality, craftsmanship, and value. We all have our idols, and it is good to be inspired, but what happens when we constantly bombard ourselves with the work produced by other people?

Most of us do not think about what these seemingly harmless distractions are doing to us emotionally, and end up spending a vast amount of time unconsciously comparing our lives and ourselves to others. The result, we only feed our internal doubts and fear, instead of feeling empowered. By making a choice to engage in this type of constant comparison we hijack our own ability to feel inspired and motivated to invest in ourselves and take steps towards master our craft. Too many of us are so constantly distracted, that we willingly surrender to our fears without even realizing it.

Here are a few things you can do to rewire you brain and make it your bitch–not the other way around:

  1. What is the story you are telling yourself?

    Listen to any potential self-deprecating internal dialogue that occurs when you engage in excessive comparison to others. It may sound like:

    “I will never be as good, talented, masterful, etc. I’m so far behind my game, that it will take me 500 years to catch up, I might as well never try. Maybe it is not my passion/purpose. It’s not a good match to my personality.”

    If any of these sound familiar, you need to stop looking at other people’s work, and focus all your attention on what you WANT to be doing, and most importantly, WHY you want to be doing it. Pay attention to what reasons you come up with. If those reasons sound more like “I need to do this, because it is the only way I can make my rent this month”, that might be a sign that you are approaching it with a mentality of lack, and that you need to start focusing your attention positively on what makes you feel energized, inspired, and alive.
  2. Put your phone down!

    It doesn’t have to be your phone. It could be your tablet, your laptop, your excessive TV watching. You get the idea. Stop looking, and start creating. To quote Jim Kwik, “The brain doesn’t work on consumption. It works on creation… Learning is not a spectator sport.” Create habits and practices that help you stay connected to yourself, instead of the screens of your devices. You'll first notice the symptoms of withdrawal but be patient, they will pass after a couple of weeks.
  3. Realize what you see is usually the result of hard work.

    The hyper connectivity and instant sharing the Internet blessed us with can also be a curse, because it creates an illusion that other people are simply cranking out one amazing masterpiece after another. We see them post a finished piece and our brain assumes they must be amazingly talented (and we are a worthless piece of… a human being by comparison). It couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Most people don’t want to share the failed attempts that took place behind the curtains. Many creatives regularly go through their own moments of despair, pulling the hair on their heads, freaking out, and crumbling up piles of “ugly" sketches/drafts/etc. before tossing them into the fire. They accept it as part of their process, and persevere despite the setbacks. If you want to make good art and be recognized for your craft, this realization will help you move passed any lack of motivation. 

If you want to avoid being stuck in a rut, you have to reclaim your power of using your consciousness in productive ways that actually empower you–the only way you will avoid the life of mediocrity, and start paving your own path towards vibrant and fulfilling life. So stop comparing, and start living.