Do you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to other artists? Do you get secretly jealous when other musicians land cool gigs, win awards, and score lucrative press?
These are signs that you are playing the comparison game, a common trap that can send normally rational and level-headed artists into a tailspin.
No matter how well you’re doing in your career, you’ll always be able to find someone doing better. In other words, if you let the “comparison game,” and the crippling emotions that accompany it, invade your mental space, you may find yourself on a continuous emotional rollercoaster that can erode your confidence and keep you from making progress.
Luckily, there are tools you can use to help you avoid the comparison game, and tools to help you deal with the emotional rollercoaster if you do fall victim to playing the comparison game.
1. Celebrate Your Wins – No Matter How Small
I encourage you to celebrate your wins no matter how small or inconsequential they might feel at the time.
Celebrating wins, especially publicly, can have a profoundly positive effect on mindset, especially as the wins pile up week after week.
2. Celebrate Other People’s Wins
The other benefit to sharing weekly wins in a group is that you get to practice honoring the achievements of others. If you’re not too happy with your current progress, this can be a tough pill to swallow.
But learning to be truly happy about the progress of others can be a great character-building exercise. It’s also something you can grow into with practice.
At first, you might not feel genuinely happy for their success. Even if feelings of jealousy creep in, congratulate your peers anyway. And over time, if you keep exercising that “praise” muscle, there’s a great chance you’ll start to truly feel happy for them.
In addition, a little healthy competition is not a bad thing. Seeing what other artists have achieved can offer serious motivation that, with some focus and hard work, you can do the same.
When it’s time to spread the word about your music, it’s time to look at Promote It
3. Get Into An Abundance Mindset
Do you believe that every time another artist gets a gig, lands some great press, or wins over a fan, that there are now fewer of those opportunities for you? If so, you’re battling a scarcity mindset.
The flipside of this coin is the abundance mindset, where there are always plenty of gigs, press opportunities, fans, and everything else to go around.
Abundance means there is room for everyone to succeed. Having an abundance mindset can remove a huge burden from your shoulders. You don’t have to scramble to get there first or fight for attention with other artists. Your opportunities are out there waiting for you, regardless of what other artists are doing.
Of course, an abundance mindset isn’t an invitation to adopt a laissez faire attitude and stop working hard. But if you truly believe in abundance, you can nip comparison in the bud before it starts.
4. Block Comparison & Shut Down Negative Self Talk FAST
There will always be someone with more knowledge, experience, luck, and talent than you have, which is why it’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game.
The first step to blocking comparison is recognizing when you’re doing it. When you call it out and put a label on it, you can stop comparison in its tracks before you let it get under your skin and into your head.
Take notice of what triggers you to compare yourself to others and teach your mind to react differently.
Easier said than done, right?
First, take note of what situations trigger your insecurity. Maybe it’s reading a certain Facebook feed, going to a particular venue, or reading a newsletter of an artist who brings out the green-eyed monster…
Nothing about these things is bad in itself. But for you, at least for now, they may be undesirable. Once you’ve built up your arsenal of self-confidence and have more control over your tendency to play the comparison game, then you can reintroduce these situations and see how you handle them.
5. Stay In Your Own Lane
Comparison can be insidious. It can creep in without your knowledge and mess with your head. So stay aware and be vigilant. The only kind of comparison that is productive is comparing your then to your now. Make each day or each week a “personal best.”
It can be discouraging to see fellow musicians posting positive, amazing, and picture-perfect stuff on social media. They talk about cool gigs, prestigious awards, top-notch music videos, hit songs, packed venues, etc.
It’s enough to make even the most accomplished artist play the comparison game.
But they’re showing the world only the results of their hard work, not the work it takes to get those results. And we definitely never see the failures, the setbacks, and the not-so-pretty pit stops along the journey to the finish line.
Don’t get caught up in comparing your “backstage” to their “frontstage.” Stay in your own lane and focus on doing the best you can do with what you’ve been given.
Flipping The Script On The Comparison Game
As you’ve probably figured out by now, comparison can actually be helpful instead of harmful. It’s all in the way you choose to approach it.
WIth an abundance mindset and the right framework, comparison can help you make serious progress in your career. The key is to stay in your own lane and use comparison to raise your personal bar on a periodic basis.
And if you can gracefully and wholeheartedly celebrate the accomplishments of your fellow artists, that will make your own wins even more satisfying.
Tiz I-tegrator - June 6, 2018
Evandro - June 6, 2018
Argot (aka Michael Singer) - June 6, 2018
….and it’s ReverbNation — not a major media site, a politician, clergy, or an activist — that gets the nature of humankind and how to cope with a curation-heavy mindset that comes with social media proliferation. I suppose it’s because we musicians hear the world, whereas others see it. This is just a guidebook for *living* at this point. I commend you for creating this article. Sincerely.
V - June 7, 2018
You guys are the best
Judith - June 7, 2018
What a great article Rebecca and I love that you mentioned The Abundance Mindset, essential!!! 😀 Very interesting and enlightening article. Thank you so much. Judith
Judith - June 7, 2018
Thank you!!! 😀
Doug Kelley - June 7, 2018
Excellent article, and spot-on. 🙂
Astra - June 7, 2018
Nice article, Rebecca, and some interesting points about feeling positive and focusing on one’s own art. Thanks!
henriette nering bogel - June 7, 2018
very nice entry. very helpfull. thanks
the comparison game is so crippling your growth. you stand in your own light and lose self respect very fast.
thanks again. big motivating content
Paul Ashley - June 7, 2018
I’m just an amateur who plays a few gigs here and there but I am constantly in the comparison mode, and primarily about the type of music I play. It seems that most artists in my area play either blues or bluegrass while I play pop and folk. Even though I get compliments from listeners, I’m always thinking I can’t get the next big because I don’t play what I imagine to be the “in” style.
Lauren - June 7, 2018
This is super refreshing! Thanks for writing about this.
James Carbonaro - June 7, 2018
What it all boils down to, as you have said, is now versus then.
Nifer gold - June 8, 2018
Thanks the article is very helpful for me
Larry Newcomb - June 8, 2018
Great encouragement to cultivate the awareness to know one’s triggers and quickly refrain from the tendency “compare & despair!” Perhaps a very human tendency; but, one where self-promoting artists are especially vulnerable.
Thanks for the encouragement to celebrate our own victories AND those of fellow artists. We need to stay in our own lane in an awareness of the abundance always available through focus, effort and inspiration to serve the music.
Mike Dillon 54W - June 9, 2018
Great article, so true! Mike Dillon 54W
Stu Fuchs (Ukulele Zen) - June 10, 2018
Great article! It’s SO important to celebrate the success & happiness of others…not only in the realm of a career in music, but in all of life. Seems like the more we can celebrate the good things there have achieved the more humble & truly supportive we will become. This sort of mindset has paid off dividends in my life. I also loved the part where it says that when people are haring successes in their blog posts, newsletters, FB feeds, etc…it’s NOT showing all the work that went into it…and all the failures they may have ecpeirbecd along the way. Thanks SO much for this reminder.
Viviana Clary - June 11, 2018
Very encouraging message!
It’s really about being present to where I am right here now. Then I can be grateful for my growth and knowledge.
Remembering the bigger picture is impacting one person at a time. I have something to share, not just the music, but a message of hope.
That keeps me going, when I practice not comparing, I realized that the message speaks loudly, when I am in comparison mode the message gets lost.
Thanks for sharing this article.
mikkeline - June 12, 2018
JP COSTANZA - June 13, 2018
Another great article. Helpful if not inspiring!
Cosy Da3zeas - June 15, 2018
I got it
both with heart and soul,
Keep it real ,
Like you practice what you preach Download 1of my song
D.J.ARELI - June 28, 2018
Wise words, thank you.
Clash Mini APK - November 10, 2021
thank you so much