Easier said than done, right? I think we often compare ourselves to others without even realizing it. We see someone who has a great body, great car, or in this case someone who has a successful book and we compare it to our own success. You might read a book and think, “My books aren’t as good as this.” It’s enough to make you want to quit writing alltogether, right?
Comparing yourself to others is natural but here’s the thing, it’s also a habit. It’s a bad habit and it kills your writing mojo. How can you be a confident, productive, and joyful writer if you feel shitty about yourself and/or your writing skills? You can’t.
The good news is that habits can be changed. You can shift the way that you think about the skills and accomplishments of others and thus strengthen your own confidence.
- Awareness is a small part of the equation
It’s great to be aware of what you’re thinking and how it’s impacting you. Awareness of your own thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and triggers can only help you improve yourself and be happier. However, it’s also darned difficult to be completely aware of yourself at all times and comparing yourself to others is a subtle occurrence. So while I think it’s important to strive to become aware of when you’re comparing yourself and how it affects you, I also think it’s only a small part of the confidence equation.
This is a simple but powerful shift in the way that you think. Start framing your thoughts about others as appreciation rather than envy, jealousy, or self-doubt. Here’s an example…
A member of your critique group tells you that she signed a deal with Harlequin you can either…
- Feel bad about yourself because you haven’t signed a deal with anyone. You can’t even get your family to read your draft.
- Feel resentful because you know you’re a better writer so why is she getting the book deal.
- Buy her a drink to celebrate her accomplishment and ask questions. How did she do it? What advice or recommendations does she have for you?
#3 is the only one that leads to any positive shift in your mindset. Even if you have to fake part of that joy for your friend and appreciation, it’s worth it. You will begin to notice a lightness as you settle into yourself. It’s not a competition. You can learn and appreciate the skills and accomplisments of others without it having a negative impact on you.
- Be yourself
Sounds simple enough, right? It’s not. Most people really struggle to be authentic. Yet, when you find this place it gives you the freedom to do what YOU want to do, write what YOU want to write, and focus on your strengths with pride and your weaknesses with a smile. You know you have weaknesses. No one is perfect. Why not embrace them as part of who you are?
The Bottom Line….
There are thousands of quotes that all essentially say the same thing. I found quotes on comparing yourself to others from Dr Seuss to Iyanla Vanzant and they were all wonderful.
This one is the one that I find to be most effective. It hits home every single time I see it or remember it.
“Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.”
Because if you’re even a tiny bit better than you were yesterday, you’re doing well.