How To Manage Comparison & Keep Your Focus

Comparison in life is pretty inevitable. It feels even more prevalent on Instagram, where we see glimpses of other people’s lives and successful creative business ventures. Some comparisons can be positive and motivating, while others can leave us feeling discontent and invalid. Slipping into the comparison trap can feel really unpleasant. It conjures up uneasy emotions, surmounting to envy and worthlessness. It dominate our time and attention, curtail our focus, make us question our own decisions, and dampen our creativity. 

While such comparisons feel uncomfortable, they’re totally manageable. By addressing our comparisons, we can gain clarity about what we want. It’s also possible to unearth some deep seated goals, and harness this energy positively. Comparison doesn’t need to be a consuming experience, or one that quashes creativity.

Accept Rather Than Deny.

In my work as a clinical psychologist, acceptance remains a constant strand through my therapeutic work. There’s an acceptance that I may have a different perspective to others, but also a need to accept what others come with. Managing unhelpful comparisons is no different. 

Comparison usually comes with emotions like jealousy, envy, unfairness and not feeling validated. These are never pleasant emotions and we often want to brush them away. Such denial or avoidance is unlikely to lead to a resolution. Instead, try to accept and acknowledge that others evoke these feelings in you. This will open up your thinking and help you find meaning. This, in turn, will enable you to manage your emotions and take action.

St Ives Bay Boats Low Tide

What’s The Comparison Telling You?

One way of turning comparison into something useful is to write down specifically what others are doing that’s triggering you. Is it that they seem to have a polished life, and yours just isn’t like that? Do you feel like you’re lagging behind when it comes to growing your creative business? Or is it that fellow creatives seem to action their new and creative content with confidence, and you find this so hard?

Whatever reasons or connections you make, you’ll probably unearth something that’s missing for you. Understanding the emotions attached to comparison can inform decisions, and help re-focus our attention to our goals. Let’s face it, comparison is never about the other person. It’s about you. Is it something specific, like you wanting the validation they seem to have? If so, how can you gain the validation you feel you’re missing? More specifically, what does feeling validated look like for you? Whatever you discover, it’s important to think how it fits with you, your values and vision.

Move Forward.

From here it’s possible to move forward, and it’s likely that you’re be feeling more positive about your ideas. It may be that taking the time to work through the comparison will offer a release, and reset your focus back to yourself. 

Comparison can lead to some ill informed choices. This is because they’re often reactive decisions, based on feelings and a need to have what the other person is perceived to have. Imitation is never a good idea and ultimately it’ll be unfulfilling. They’ll always be another person with a fantastic idea or social media presence, who looks like they’re doing it better than you. Part of moving forward is knowing there’s room for everyone and realising that you have as much value as the next person. It’s important to consider your your brand values and vision when it comes to making decisions. Don’t be distracted by what others are doing; it unlikely to serve you or your creative business well in the long term. 

Quiet The Noise.

I think it’s totally okay to step away from those who bring up these unpleasant feelings and grate you. It doesn’t mean you have to be distant forever but it will temper the comparison. Of course, it depends on what’s helpful. If it’s helpful not to read their blog or look at their Instagram, then do it. It’ll help you focus on yourself and what you’re doing. Hopefully it’ll help you connect with those excited feelings once again. 

Have you experienced feelings go comparison when it comes to your creative business or growing your engagement and community online? I think it’s hard to avoid but it doesn’t have to eat away at our own progress, or make what each of us have less validating. 

Author: plbedford

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