Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.
I am a massive Pinterest fan. It’s my happy place, and I particularly love hanging out on my Mantras board. Full of bits of wisdom I’ve collected, I quite often scroll through finding something that resonates today, something I need to hear.
And this quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by Theodore Roosevelt is one I often come back to.
It’s also something that’s come to mind this week as I’ve been working with my mentoring clients. Almost everyone has told me that their anxiety, worry, distraction comes from getting stuck in the spiral of doom on social media, thinking about what everyone else is doing. And wondering if they measure up.
It’s a catch 22 of human nature. We’re genetically programmed to learn by watching others. That’s how we learn to talk, walk and exist in the world. In the business world, there’s a good argument for keeping on top of trends, checking out ideas, and being part of the collective.
On the other hand, we all have this annoying thing called shame, which tells us we’re not good enough, we’re not keeping up. Here are some of the things I’ve heard from clients:
“Oh, they’re so much more together than me”
“They’re always bringing out amazing new products – how do they do it? They must be better than me”
“Should I be doing that? Everyone seems to have a plan”
And it becomes a spiral of doom.
You see someone else doing something you’d love to do, or you see them doing what they do really well. And you worry that you’re not doing it “right” or doing enough. And you get caught in the crippling fear – once you’re in the spiral, the good ideas don’t come, you can’t concentrate, you’re too afraid of doing it wrong.
Because the thing about the spiral of doom is that it takes you away from what you’re doing. Because, in many ways, if you’re running a creative business, your work can’t be compared to others’. You’re doing something unique. You can’t be compared.
And you also don’t see the other side of the story. Out there on social media, no one documents the months of prep, or the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, or the 27,000 bad ideas. When you’re seeing what other people do, you’re seeing what they choose to show you – it’s often authentic, they’re not trying to pull the wool over your eyes – but it’s the good bits. The curated collection of their lives and businesses.
So here’s the thing:
You don’t need to compare yourself to others. It will steal your joy, happiness, and creativity.
Today, this weekend, next week, consciously disengage from the spiral of doom. Instead, make a list of all the things you’re proud of, or all the things you’d just love to do. Pin this quote. Come back to your creativity, your inspiration, your business and life.
Protect yourself from the thief of joy.
Additional extra note: Do you like my watercolours? So fun! If you fancy having this (shaky, imperfect) piece as a reminder to avoid comparison, drop me a note in the comments.