Comparison is the Thief of Joy / by Krista Boivie

Comparison is the Thief of Joy
— Theodore Roosevelt

The past few weeks I have become overly critical of myself, due to my constant comparisons with others. These comparisons have not just been a thief of my joy, as Roosevelt so aptly put it, but the comparisons have turned into paralyzing roadblocks. The roadblocks have zapped my creativity and had me embracing procrastination and avoidance.

How to stop the comparison thief?

Focus on the Behavior Gap.  I have been reading The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money  by Carl Richards, in it Richards has created a model called the Behavior Gap.

Whenever I start to become particularly harsh with myself, I think of this diagram.  I won a free print of this drawing and I originally hung it in my office and then realized that it needed to be on my fridge so I could be reminded of it on a daily basis. Focusing on this diagram has allowed me to quickly channel my energy and stop wasting time on things that are beyond my control.  I also have a copy of this image in my classroom and it has been a great conversation starter with my students.

Be patient. It is imperative that we learn to be patient with ourselves.  Most of my comparisons have been about my photography.  I have a few photographers that I absolutely love their work. They have a clear asthetic and are outstanding in what they do.  They have been shooting (in most cases) more than 10 years longer than I have.  They have every right to be stronger photographers with a direct asthetic. The more I step back and look at where I have come in the last few years I can clearly see development.  I need to focus on my growth.

Look to those that love you.  I have a dear friend who is keeping me sane these days be constantly reminding me of all the things I do well. It is reassuring to have people in your life that respect the work that you do and can realistically and honestly give you feedback.

It is normal to compare yourself with others.  In some cases comparisons can be healthy and fuel productive competition. As a wannabe I know that I will have to be vigilant about not sacrificing too much of my energy in worthless comparisons.  

How do you handle comparisons?