Modern quilter, blogger, and designer Kim Soper feels that it is important to nurture creativity and that there are many ways to do that. Read on as Kim shares her perspective on how to use an emotion many of us have, envy, to fuel creative growth and avoid negative self-talk.
In 2018, I curated a year-long weekly blog series called THE CREATIVITY PROJECT. I interviewed 52 modern quilters and asked them their thoughts on creativity, spirituality, and why they quilt. One question I asked each participant was, “How do you deal with comparison to/envy of others?: As you can imagine, the answers were as varied as the participants themselves, but there was one common theme in most of their responses: the impact of social media on the feelings of envy.
Social Media: The Good and the Bad
The one topic that came up time and again was social media—or rather, the advice to stay off of it as much as possible. While Instagram, in particular, is an awesome tool for forming connections with other quilters—it’s our go-to source for inspiration and for being an active member of the quilting community—it has its drawbacks.
Social media can exaggerate feelings of unworthiness, particularly when we are feeling unproductive or uninspired. As we scroll, we see how prolific some quilters are and we begin to question our own value.
We feel envious of what others are doing and making or of the opportunities their work is bringing. We start to compare ourselves to what we are seeing, measuring our perceived accomplishments (or lack thereof), and—inevitably—negative thoughts begin to creep in.
Negative self-talk only perpetuates feelings of unworthiness so it’s important to recognize when we fall into the envy trap and how to put things into perspective.
Remember, Social Media Isn’t Giving the Whole Picture
“Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone’s highlight reel.” Originally attributed to Steven Furtick, pastor and New York Times bestselling author, these were the words of advice that Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Whole Circle Studio. In other words, most people aren’t sharing their bad hair days, their messy houses, or their projects that didn’t work out in their Instagram feeds—at least not in the raw, unfiltered way that it happens in real life.
However, we also shouldn’t allow these feelings of envy to go unchecked. Although feeling jealous never feels good, an emotional response like envy is actually a very important clue to what it is that may be missing from our own lives.
The Positive Side of Envy
When pangs of envy and jealousy strike, it is actually a very useful clue for what we should seek in our own life. If used properly, envy can serve as a guide to becoming our best selves. Seeing what others have accomplished, and desiring it for ourselves, provides us with a goal—and an opportunity. The next step is to determine how to get to where we want to be.
Determine What It Is You Are Envious Of—And Why
It’s important to take the time to analyze exactly what it is that we are feeling envious of, as well as why we desire it. The next time envy creeps in, take a step back and ask, “Is this something that I am willing to work really hard for?” And more importantly, “Does working toward this goal align with what I want to see happen in my life?”
Yvonne Fuchs (Quilting Jetirl) sums it up. “Usually, when I find myself having those kinds of feelings—self-doubt due to comparison or envy of someone else—it is a cue to me that I have some desires that I wasn’t acknowledging. So I try to think about what is prompting me to feel that way … Ultimately, I believe there is room for us all, and I would rather spend my time celebrating someone else’s success.”
If You Still Want It, Make a Plan To Get It
If we realize this is something we want to bring in to our lives, then it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. From a practical standpoint, making a plan of small, attainable steps will help us to reach our larger goal. This is where our envy will provide a road map. As Carole Lyles Shaw noted in her interview, “When I hear those little voices, I try to identify what I envy. Then, I ask myself ‘What can I do right now to achieve that …’ In other words, I identify what is in my control to change in my own work or life. Then I get on with it!”
Four Ways to Limit Social Media Use
- Set Boundaries Track the amount of time you spend on your phone/tablet and limit your access to social media.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind Move your social media apps to their own page on your device’s home page.
- Turn Off Notifications Notifications are meant to be a distraction. Turn them off and you will be less tempted to check in.
- Treat Yourself Use social media as a reward rather than a way to procrastinate. Set rules for productivity and use social media as a treat for your accomplishments.
Take a moment to ponder Kim’s advice, and while you are at it, peruse the Quilting Company website for lots of modern quilting inspiration. You’re sure to find many ways to get your inspirational juices flowing. Our editors have pulled together a collection of their favorite patterns for your enjoyment. Why not check these out?