Comparing our work and ourselves to others may be natural in our competitive culture, but it can be very self-limiting – perhaps especially for creative people.
Self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff notes “Being average is unacceptable. We have to be special and above average to feel we have any worth at all.”
Elaine Aron, a psychologist and author of books such as The Highly Sensitive Person, notes research indicates “low self-esteem is in a sense natural, one result of our instinct to rank ourselves among others.”
See more in article Ranking and Self-Esteem.
Anne Hathaway once commented about her high sensitivity and comparing her career as an actor to another artist:
“I cry terribly easily…I was reading an article about Kate Winslet in Vogue, and I love her so much, I started crying, realizing how great she is and how far I have to go.”
The entertainment business may be a prime example of where talented people compare themselves to others in areas such as career accomplishments and body image.
Mindy Kaling once made a healthy comment about body image: “Most people want to ask about my size and how brave I am. I’m like, ‘I’m not brave, I’m just not really skinny.'”
Psychologist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
She writes about the emotional and creative pleasures of artists’ inner lives and challenges on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
Here is part of an article of hers on this topic:
Being creative is your life. You are fascinated by the arts and you couldn’t imagine a life without creating.
At the same time, you are scared and terrified by this career.
It’s a fine balance between keeping yourself grounded and slipping into the territory of insecurity.
When you do fall into that insecure territory, you start comparing yourself with others.
Their accomplishments and successes make you feel sad and scared.
You forget about your passion for your art, and you get trapped in worthlessness, self pity, and concerns about future.
You feel ashamed to notice or admit that you feel envy. You feel lost between anxiety and depression.
In the “comparison trap” you find yourself in a spiral of challenging emotions and thoughts.
It captures your mind and you have difficulty escaping it.
And then, the negative self assessment takes over, which makes it even harder to really see yourself as you are: the artist with all your inclinations, strengths, and weaknesses.
Although you have had success and you know you are talented, you can’t help but feel disappointed with yourself and your life.
Many creatives and performers experience self-doubts, fears, anxiety, depression, and other challenging emotional states when they compare themselves with others.
The creative world is fascinating and tough at the same time.
Falling into a “comparison trap” is very easy.
And yet, some find a way to channel this challenge into creativity.
Their difficult emotions become the energy that motivates them to work hard on developing their skills and it inspires their creative expression.
They respond to others’ accomplishments by creating with even more dedication and passion.
They feel stimulated and energized.
Instead of constantly looking to others, they take their own journey of discovery, healing, and transformation.
But you get stuck in comparing yourself with others.
How can you start freeing yourself from this trap?
First, it’s important to know that we all compare ourselves with others from time to time. It’s normal.
Embrace the feelings that this brings and then see it as your chance for internal reflection.
You can heal, empower yourself, and overcome whatever is interfering with your creativity and success.
It really is possible to turn difficult emotions into opportunities for self-exploration when you’re curious about your mind, your experiences, what you need, and what you want.
So much becomes possible when you tune into what hurts, what you hope and dream, and what may hold you back.
In your self-exploration, you can begin to recognize your complexities, flaws, strengths, talents, and your uniqueness.
Read more in her article: