Comparison. We all do it, it's natural. The way we relate to the world is by comparing it to ourselves. You have empathy for that girl on the street who just dropped her groceries because you can see yourself in her. You have disgust for that celebrity because he/she is behaving in activities that YOU would never do.
Sometimes comparison can become unhealthy. I struggle with this all the time. Generally (but not always), my empathy and general enjoyment of people means that I am not judging others unfairly so much as judging MYSELF unfairly, but let's talk about both!
Give Other People a Break
It is really (REALLY) easy to be critical of other people. I have fallen into this trap so many times. Usually it makes me feel terrible, so I'm training myself to stop. It was easy to stop vocally judging others, and much harder to prevent my thoughts from straying down that path in the first place. My internal guideline for this kind of judgement is: If it made you feel guilty afterwards, don't do it again.
This guilt is the worst (for me) when I am with a group of people gossiping about someone I know and I either laugh with them, add to it, or don't defend the person. I've had many sleepless nights after not defending someone who was being gossiped about. I just lie there and think of all the things I should have said. It's torturous. Thankfully, it rarely happens now. I avoid friendships with gossipy people, and either leave or say something when I'm not okay with how a conversation is going.
Still, situations are going to come up where you feel badly for either internally judging someone or speaking badly about them. I feel like the best resolution in that case is to do something nice for the person and, if necessary, apologize.
Give Yourself a Break
I love seeing gorgeous homes and outfits on Pinterest... but it makes me feel inadequate and frumpy sometimes. I love following my favourite artists and getting inspired by their work... but some days, this sends me into a spiral of self doubt and insecurity. I love blogs! But, yes, sometimes other bloggers seemingly easy daily post habits make me feel inefficient and jealous. Here are some things I remember that help me let those insecurities go:
The Internet is Not Honest
I struggle every day to remember that just because people seemingly have it all (especially on the internet) doesn't mean that they do. It's not like I post about fights with Jay, rude things people said to me on the street, or those days where everything I draw looks like I drew it with my left hand. Most people are presenting their best selves, so remember that.
It's Really 'You vs. You'
Slowly, I am coming to realize that it's better to compare myself against... myself. Is my art better than this time last year? Am I less stressed than I was three months ago? Is our house looking more and more like "us"? Yes, yes, yes!
It's All About the Journey
It's so easy to get caught up in the goals you have for the future and how you aren't there yet that you forget to enjoy the process. Sure, I don't have an illustration deal for a kids book, yet. But I am spending every day painting in my studio with my outrageously cute dog. WHICH IS THE BEST THING EVER.
Some People Have Been At It Way Longer Than You Have
This one is especially good to remember, for me, when I am comparing myself to other artists. Some of my absolute favourite artists have ten+ years more experience than I do. I look at their work and melt into drooly puddles of envy. Then I slap myself to my senses and remember they have spent that much more time building their craft, networking, and researching. Everyone starts at the bottom. This applies to any career or skill.
Not Everyone Is Going To Like You
People are going to dislike (and even hate) you. Sometimes you are going to know why (you insulted them by accident, you have different beliefs, whatever). Sometimes you are going to have NO IDEA what you did wrong. Sometimes it's just that they had a bad day, got dumped by your doppelgänger, or have an eye twitch that looks a lot like stink eye.
One day, after crying for hours about someone being mean to me, it finally sunk in. (I was also listening to 'I Can't Make You Love Me' by Bonnie Raitt... which probably helped.) If everyone likes you, it means that you are changing who you are to suit every person you meet. That's just plain crazy. I try not to worry about it when other people seem to dislike me. They don't really know me, so it doesn't matter.
Differences Are What Make Us Interesting
My favourite things about my closest friends come from the parts of their personalities that differ from mine. Their perspectives and views differ from mine, which is why our conversations are so inspiring and stimulating! This is also why I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. Embrace the differences!
Phew! That was wordier than I expected when I started, but it was actually pretty good for me to write it all out. Do you find yourself falling into comparison traps? What do you do to work through it?