Permission to Stop Comparing

Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in Creativity, Joy, Kaizen-Muse, SoulCollage, Ultimate Blog Challenge, Writing | 6 comments

Permission to Stop Comparing

Hands up, everyone who looked at a model in a magazine recently and thought, with a sigh, “I’ll never look like that.” And everyone who has walked into a friend’s house and thought, “Why can’t I get my house to look like it’s on the cover of Architectural Digest like she can?” Who has looked at a well-behaved child while yours was acting up and felt like an inferior parent. Who started writing that novel that was going to be so, so awesome and then looked at the first paragraph and realized it would never match up to Toni Morrison or David Sedaris.

Come on, get ‘em up where we can see ‘em. Yeah, just as I thought: pretty much everybody. (And if I’m being honest, my hand is up, too.)

Another question: how do you feel in those moments? Like you’re strong enough to take on the world? Or more like you’d prefer the earth to open up and swallow you whole? Uh-huh. I thought so.

Stop comparing yourself!!

I am here today to tell you that this non-stop comparison is deadly. And I do mean deadly. It will kill your creativity and your confidence deader than a can of Raid kills bugs. It will create barriers between you and the people around you. It will destroy your self-worth and erode your energy.

Everyone struggles with comparison because we’re taught to do it. When we learn to compete, we learn to check how we stack up against everyone else. Some of this sort of comparison can be good if it drives us forward, but too much of it just knocks us into the ground, reeling and unable to figure out how to get back up. (And for those who look at kids who run themselves into the ground in college or worse, and smugly say, “Eh, they just couldn’t hack it,” I can only say that they shouldn’t have to. Not unless we want to encourage self-destruction.)

Why comparison makes no sense

Part of the problem with comparison is that we don’t see the whole picture. That magazine model? Airbrushed. If you saw what she looked like pre-Photoshop, you wouldn’t feel nearly so bad about yourself. That beautiful home may be the result of a crippling case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. And that well-behaved child may turn into a complete hellion at home.

The other part of the problem with comparison is that there’s just no basis for it. So someone’s already written an epic novel about the Civil War, or written a symphony about Antarctica, or painted water lilies on a pond. Yours will be different. It can’t not be. The cool thing about art is that each of us put our own unique imprint on a subject. I’ve seen it happen many times, such as in SoulCollage® classes where everyone makes a card on the same theme. Are any two the same? Nope. Are any two even close? Nope.

Get out there and do your thing and be awesome and stop giving a crap how what you do measures up to anyone else. You are your own yardstick—the only one that matters. And if you need a visual reminder, I offer you this one:

1x1.trans Permission to Stop Comparing


Scales image courtesy


  1. The comparison trap is an evil, evil place to get caught in – thanks so much for the reminder that we can stop! Love this!
    MelAnn recently posted..Revolutionary Thoughts of SurpriseMy Profile

    • I think comparison is one of the most insidious negative forces we encounter, and we come up against it every day. We all need some good anti-comparison armor!

  2. I love the quote in the box above. That is so true. I LOATHE the magazine-image that is pushed in front of our faces all the time. It is just not realistic to look that way, and not even possible some times. Photoshop can really make miracles, not to mention liposuction, plastic surgery, etc. Thanks for this. I KNOW I shouldn’t compare myself, but it’s hard not to.
    Amy recently posted..The Liebster Award . . . drum roll, please . . .My Profile

    • It’s very hard not to, Amy, because we’re programmed to believe that we have to. I think this is the core if advertising, because if we didn’t compare ourselves to everyone else, we wouldn’t think we needed to buy so much stuff!

  3. It’s true, we do compare ourselves with all of the facades others show. It’s so self-defeating. And tiring. I think that’s why people end up loving bloggers, celebrities, YouTubers etc who show their insecurities, mistakes, etc. Being that real and sharing those bits that make you human can really take art (whatever form) to that next level.
    Tamara Woods recently posted..P is for Poetry: A to Z blogging challenge (VIDEO)My Profile

    • Tamara, I think you are absolutely on to something there! I know I always like folks who can laugh at themselves more than those who can’t. Life’s short–way too short to compare ourselves all the time!

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