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Yea, yea, yea…Comparing yourself to others may have some benefits from time to time, BUT as artists it usually can go south pretty QUICK. RIIIIGHT?!?! And in some seasons it can be hard to recover. This past week Laurie asked the question: “What advice would you give to someone who struggles with comparing or feels insecure about their [work/business/life]?” And it really got me thinking about how we deal with this issue. We all do it!! GUILTY!!

Although I am not any kind of self confidence wizard I listed out a few things that have really helped me navigate through the artist’s “depths-of-despair”, as Anne of Green Gables would put it.

REALIZE THAT THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM
I’ve learned through experience that things aren’t always as them seem. It might look like The-Perfect-World for that person/company/business from a distance but you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. I’m sure they’d tell you it’s far less than perfect (in so many ways).

DETOX
If you focus so much of your time, energy, and brain power analyzing other people/businesses/companies you start to loose sight of who you are and who you were made to be. You start feeling intimidated, competitive, jealous, uncertain, worthless, fearful, and pretty soon you’re in the Depths-of-Despair. Tim Sanders Says: “Uncertainty is a spiritual enemy that will siphon your rocket fuel [confidence]… It turns go-getters into giver-uppers.” DETOX these toxins. In a time of rebuilding your self confidence sometimes you just need to step away, detox, and re-group (whatever that means for you and your situation).

CULTIVATE A SPIRIT OF THANKFULNESS
We are all created uniquely. No one has your *unique set* of giftings, personality, talents, passions, skill level, etc. Clearly articulate yours by jotting them down. Be thankful for them and turn your focus towards making them better. See every opportunity as something to be thankful for. Count your blessings. We all have a LOT to be thankful for. Cultivating a thankful spirit will turn your life perspective upsidedown.

ENCOURAGE OTHERS
I believe this is a BIG one and something we can all improve on. Put others before yourself by encouraging them even when you are feeling low. Have you ever heard someone say “If you are having a bad day…just start smiling/laughing… and you’ll feel better?” I think we can apply that thought to encouraging others as well. Sometimes you just gotta DO IT! And the after effects heal your heart, soul, and mind. We are made & put on this earth to love others so it only feels good, healthy, and natural to do so…for the other person and for yourself.

AIM HIGH*ER*
“Shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars” -Les Brown
So, What IS your moon? Identify it and put your focus there. I wouldn’t imagine it’s the peer that your comparing with. So stop waisting your time and energy comparing and focusing in the wrong places.

I’d like to hear what YOU do when the comparing game starts to head south? How do you deal?

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  1. Mailinh

    When I start the comparison game, I tell myself to take a step back and try to black out those I’m comparing myself to. Then I try to refocus on what it is I want to accomplish.

    Thanks for the post! :)

    Reply
  2. Caytlyn

    Ah this is such a great post, I do this often. I find myself totally distracted on the internet and thinking well geez that website is so much better than mine or their work is way cooler…it is a waste of time and energy for sure. When this happens I walk away for a while, go to the gym/spin usually gives me that I’m awesome feeling again and I can go back to focusing on my talents and not trying to change myself to be like others.

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  3. Annie

    Such a GREAT post! Thank you Promise :) I agree with detoxing. I think I got to a point where I thought if I didn’t check out the latest work by certain people, I’d be missing out on something I could apply to my own work. Sometimes that’s okay, but for me I lost who I was in all of who they were. I burned out. Detoxing is a great way to find out who I am without any outside influence. Once I know who I am I can leanr healthily from others without trying to BE them.

    ((PS: I LOVE Anne of Green Gables!!!))

    Reply
  4. Leah

    one of my favorite quotes is “comparison is the thief of joy”…this goes right along with that!

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  5. Stephanie

    I go there so quick when I see a really cool blog (like yours) or great book, or just hear about someone’s awesome job… but I try to remind myself that even if I managed exactly the aspect

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  6. Stephanie

    I’m envying, I would just end up with something counterfeit and not new. It would just be a repeat of what someone else is doing. I want to contribute something bright and fresh and original to the world!! Otherwise, how can I value it?

    Reply
  7. Laura

    :D I don’t think this kind of post will EVER fall on deaf ears. Its something I need to hear constantly! Thanks :D

    Reply
  8. Laurie

    Haha loved the Anne of Green Gables line lol! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Promise! I am really excited to post up the rest of your interview soon! (Revamping a few website issues before I can get to blogging) I so agree comparing just stops us in our tracks and is such a waste of time and energy. We don’t use our strengths and unique ideas because we are so focused on imitating others. Great post!

    Reply
  9. Melissa

    It’s funny (and awesome) how whenever you’re dealing with something difficult or going through a struggle, God leads you to read or hear something that opens your eyes, gives you insight, and reminds you Who’s above it all. Like this post for instance. Comparing is something I don’t even really ever realize I’m doing. It’s so subtle, and ever so slowly I start to feel small and insignificant, and then before I know it I’m so upset and am like what the heck!? I was just so sure of myself like 5 mins ago! haha such a girl.
    But these are good and helpful reminders, so thanks for sharing. :]

    Reply
  10. Kelli

    What an amazing, encouraging, insightful post Promise! I loved reading this. I’ve struggled with this as of late too. Thanks for the healthy dose of reality :) Love ya.

    Reply
  11. Katie Leigh

    I defiantly know that feeling of not being good enough and looking at other artists/designers and not feeling to par. (had one of those moments just this morning.) I’m learning to love what I can do and to know that if my work looks just like others than I’m not bringing anything new to the table, which is my whole point in being an artist. I want others to see in a new light and through my eyes, including that artist/designer that I compare myself too. It’s defiantly a day by day process but remember who you are and where you want to go is the most important part!

    Reply
  12. David Biederbeck

    This is timely… thanks!

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  13. Amy

    Love this Promise! This is a great reminder for all areas of life :) love you!!

    Reply
  14. Jenna Strubhar

    Perfectly put! What a great reminder!! Thanks for sharing this Promise!

    Reply
  15. Rebekah Hoyt

    Thank you SO much for posting this, Promise! It’s something we all need to be reminded, and I find myself struggling with this all the time. I love all of the points you made, especially realizing that things aren’t always as they seem… it’s SO true. I tend to look at everyone else’s situation as the glass half full, but mine as glass half empty.

    The bottom line for me (and I think this is something J* said when I saw her speak a while ago) is realizing that no one is better at being you than YOU. I need to remind myself that God made me exactly the way I am for a REASON and that I need to be transparent and radiate it all with joy and self-acceptance, embracing who I am and knowing that my clients want me for ME and not because I’m trying to be someone else.

    Reply
  16. Angie Becker

    Thank you for this! This is exactly what we are going through right now, we are rebranding as Aric and Angie and while we know who we are, we find ourselves looking at others and saying is this what we should do or is this what we should do. We all as artists and business owners need to follow our own style and own who WE are. People will hire us because of who we are not who we are trying to be like or what works for someone else. Comparing yourself to others really just wastes time that should be spent on your clients and your business.

    Reply
  17. Charity

    glad you wrote this, i’m re-branding my business right now and for the first time making it totally “me”. this post is so true!

    Reply
  18. Linda

    Interesting that you wrote this post today! I made the decision earlier this week to unfollow the people I was most inspired by! I did this because I beat myself up and found it was too easy to be influenced by other photographers! I like who I am and know where my weaknesses lie. Thank you as always Promise, you write so well and keep it interesting!

    Reply
  19. Rachel Mason

    Wow. Perfectly said and something I have been struggling with lately. Thank you!

    Reply
  20. Sharma Shari

    I definitely need to detox a little bit. I’m just starting and finding my own voice and sometimes it’s overwhelming to see how everybody is doing (obviously are ahead)! I need to regroup and make a list of my strengths!

    Reply
  21. Lydia

    I’ve definitely had one of those weeks, so the timing on this is perfect for me! One thing I did last year was to clean out my google reader and limit the amount of other people’s photography I viewed. I was finding myself spending too much time comparing myself to them and doubting my abilities. Maybe it’s time to do a little more cleaning house!

    Reply
  22. Carlise

    What has helped me was to go back to that place where I was at my worst and try to remember how bad it made me feel. Then I would immediately reverse it and find those aspects that the other person was doing/had to offer and enjoy them…appreciating the ‘comparison’ in this light has helped me tons!

    Reply
  23. rachel

    so true! I’m generally quite hopeful and positive in private but as soon as i’m in the company of others, find myself falling into the old comparison routine. ‘Their skin’s so much better than mine, or they have a better job or they have it all figured out’….small seeds of thought…but it’s a slippery slope… my best way of dealing with this is to aim for a ‘spirit of thankfulness’ reminding myself EVERYday all the things in my life i am blessed with!

    Reply
  24. Megan Menke

    Thanks Promise! I can’t say how much this encouraged me! More than anything it is helpful to see how many people deal with the wretched comparison game, and also work through it just as I do! Thank you!

    Reply
  25. Amy Richmond

    ! Great great great post!!! Detox is key!! So important to keep things real.. I needed this, brightened my spirits! Thanks Promise!

    Reply
  26. Nubbytwiglet.com » Blog Archive » Link Love: 2.16.12

    [...] • I loved fellow designer Promise Tangeman’s article on comparing yourself to others. [...]

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  27. Michelle Feeney

    Great post. I definitely go in and out of this and it’s seems dependent on the day. I recently read, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/10-simple-ways-to-save-yourself-from-messing-up-your-life.html and felt it really applied to what you are saying above. You have to take the time to discover your wants and needs but more than that, give yourself the permission to do it and let go of whatever fear you might have associated with it. The fear of success is a crazy game we play with ourselves. Be true to your gut and when all else fails, go walk the dogs to clear your head. ;)

    Reply
  28. Jenn Sprinkle

    thanks! i just wrote a post similar a few weeks ago – encouraged (?) to know its relevant and we are not alone;)

    http://haveourcakeandeatittoo.com/entrepreneurism-2/the-irony-of-insecurity/

    Reply
  29. rebecca

    needed to hear this. bout to take the plunge and go full time with a business and finding that all i do is compare myself to others. time for me to get real and find my moon!!

    Reply
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  32. Bonnie (Orcutt) Miller

    Love this. So true.
    Also, I was wondering when you’re doing photos what type of camera do you shoot with? Just a curious question, and I’m comparing Nikon with Canon, and I know that you do shoot with a Canon, just not sure which one.
    Any lens you love, too?

    Reply
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