By Christine Turek (@painthatmane)
Self-love is one of the most important practices for any of us to embrace. And yet for so many stylists and artists and other folks in the hair industry, it isn’t a priority.
Instead of loving ourselves and what we are capable of, we often fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to others and of seeing other people’s successes as our own failures. And that’s no way of living!
Simply put, if you’re going to practice self-love, then you need to stop comparing yourself to others in the hair industry. That means the other stylists at your salon. It means the influencers and people in your news feed. It means the celebrity stylists and hair artists and the award winners and everyone else.
Let’s take a look at the reasons that stylists fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others, talk about why those comparisons are so detrimental to our happiness, and go over tips that you can use to stop yourself the next time you find yourself making those comparisons.
Why do we compare ourselves against others?
Look, we work in the beauty industry. It should be no surprise that this means that beauty is often the focus of our daily lives. All day long, we are looking at people—our clients, our competition’s work, our own hair—and trying to analyze what we could do to make someone look better.
This isn’t a negative: Helping someone look better often helps them feel better! But it does mean that we can sometimes get wrapped up a little too much in outer appearances. We’re not being judgmental—it’s just a part of what we’ve been asked to do. Still, we need to make sure that we are approaching those analyses from a healthy place so that we don’t fall into the trap of comparing ourselves negatively against others.
Social media has had such a positive impact on the salon industry, but it also makes it so much easier for stylists to see the work of others. So long as the stylist is approaching this from a healthy mindset, this can lead to great inspiration and even friendship! But approached from a negative point of view, it can be detrimental.
When you look at another person’s Facebook timeline or Instagram page, it’s easy to think that their life is so much more put together than yours. But it’s important to remember that you’re only seeing what they choose to share. It’s their highlight reel. Just because it looks so great doesn’t mean that they never have a bad job or an unhappy client or make a mistake; it just means that you don’t see those mistakes. Remembering that everyone—everyone—has a bad day from time to time can help you maintain your own happiness and motivation.
Why Comparing Ourselves to Others is So Harmful
The first reason is perhaps the most important reason: No one else is you other than you! You have gifts that no one else on this earth has. You have strengths that people need, and which can bring you joy when embraced. Comparing yourself to others steals this joy. As stylists and as people, we must learn our gifts and truly know that no one else can actually perform them like we can.
Second of all, everyone is struggling with something. There is no such thing as someone who has never experienced trauma. Every human on this planet suffers from at least some kind of pain. What people preach most often about usually is (or was) their biggest struggle. They’re not preaching to brag or to show off; for them, it’s a way to process what they are feeling and actually create healing within themselves.
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
If you find that you’re always comparing yourself negatively to others in your salon, your community, or the industry, then it’s time for you to take a step back from the people and things that are making you feel inadequate.
Creating space and boundaries will help you feel balanced and safe again. This may mean taking a break from family, friends, and social media; it may mean taking a little time off from work; it may even mean finding a new salon or employer. You need to start putting your energy into things that make you feel good, or else you’ll never be happy!
At the same time, think long and hard about your actual weaknesses. What do you wish you could strengthen about yourself? Identify those things, and find people who you trust can help you work through them. This small step can create peace in an area of struggle for you internally. Sometimes once you can finally admit, “I don’t like this about myself” it opens up a door for healing and tells your body it’s okay to work on it.
A final, small step that you can take: Don’t wake up and look at your phone or social media first thing in the morning, especially if you find that it leaves you feeling drained or depleted. Instead, do something helpful for yourself. Take the morning to set your brain up to love the things that are unique and different about you. Read something encouraging. Simply be mindful that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Control what your mind takes in, especially in these critical early morning hours.
Finding Inspiration in Another’s Success
Once you have been able to stop yourself from making negative comparisons of yourself against others, it is possible to look to other people’s success for inspiration.
Whether it is someone winning an award that inspires you to put yourself out there; someone who tries something new and knocks it out of the park, inspiring your to take on a new challenge; or simply someone who is happy and healthy and inspires you to prioritize yourself, inspiration is important.
But in order to find inspiration in someone, you have to trust them. You have to know their intentions are to help you and build you up. When someone feels like a threat, you will have a very difficult time finding inspiration in them.
It doesn’t matter why you feel threatened—they could be a truly good person—but for some reason their accomplishments make you feel uncomfortable. It’s ok to acknowledge these feelings and focus on people who don’t make you feel this way. Every person has a different past and this is what has shaped your brain to react a certain way. Comparison comes when your brain starts to relate this current situation with something of your past. It’s not always your fault for feeling this way.
You need people who are better than you in order to grow, but you have to find the ones who make you want to grow. You will most likely never be the very best at anything; but that shouldn’t be your goal. Instead, focus on being the best that you can be.
And remember, just as you take inspiration from others, there is a beauty in sharing your own gifts and being an inspiration back. Someone also needs you. And you need to know that.
Want to learn more about how you can avoid burnout and prioritize self-care? Sign up for Salt Society’s first-ever stylist wellness workshop, where you’ll learn how to create healthy boundaries, reignite your passion for work, and find peace to get you through the struggle.