The Comparison Game
I was listening to a book this week and something came together for me. The book was explaining why we compare ourselves to others. It started off explaining how as humans we have an innate need to belong. It said: "Belongingness is a core need of the self, the feeling of being human among humans, to be connected to others". It also said, "Loneliness stems from the feeling of not belonging, feeling disconnected from others...Social isolation increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 2 or 3 times, so the need to belong is fundamental to both physical and mental health."
In the next section it went on to say, "Because our culture demands that we perceive ourselves as special and above average, we routinely engage in a socialistic process of comparison with others. When we are deeply invested in seeing ourselves positively we tend to feel threatened when others do better than we do."
I would add to this that to a great extent, I believe that most people were raised in an environment of lack, meaning there is not enough for everyone. No one sat me down and said this to me, however, somehow I learned that it was me against others in terms of resources, money or otherwise. This is why the information from this book was so meaningful. It put together for me why the comparison game is so challenging for us.
If we have an innate need to belong for physical and mental health (be connected), we have been taught that we are supposed to be special (this means different than others), and we believe there is a lack of resources, then it is a perfect storm to compare ourselves and in the least create some confusion. This cultural aspect of needing to be special creates division among us and it fosters comparison.
What is crazy is that while we may have bought into this idea of "special", what I know for sure is that we are so much more alike than we are different. Distilled down I believe we all want the same thing: to love and be loved, especially by those that we love, to have deep meaningful relationships with said people, and to have some purpose and meaning in our lives.
So, why do I bring this up? First, I want to tell you that it's not your fault. Much of what I discussed is conditioning through society, family, etc. And, just because it's not your fault doesn't mean you have to experience it any more. Do I believe that everyone is unique and special? Yes, actually, I do, but not in the way society would have you believe. I think that each person has a unique gift because of their history, personality, and talents, to bring to this world and to do that in connection. This is their purpose and meaning. My unique gift to this world is helping people discover their purpose, meaning and to have deep meaningful relationships with themselves and others.
This life is beautiful and there is potential for joy all day, every day, and if that is not the experience you are predominantly having, let's chat.
Erin "sailing on still waters" Mac