Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Compare Yourself

My thought here is that we shouldn't compare ourselves with others. But whether that's possible is tripping me up.

What are we going to compare ourselves with if not others? And it seems very natural, with the normal strain of relationships, to see ourselves as set apart, different, or the same, in certain aspects, as others.

The mind given to feelings of inferiority when compared to others is going to have a hard time not thinking it. And vice versa, if you think you're superior to others, it's going to be tough to not think it. That leaves the rest of us -- perhaps -- in the vast middle, wondering why we're the vast middle when all these others are inferior or superior, at least in their own thoughts.

We're a very yielding people in many ways. I yield to those who are manifestly inferior in their own minds. I don't want to knock them down farther by disagreeing. The last thing their delicate nature needs at this point is to think they've also messed up their self assessment. And I yield to those who think they're superior to everyone else. Because I figure they have issues too.

As to me myself, I can swing both ways. I do some comparisons. Not that I want to. Just the part that seems very natural. It's all very draining of your sap, though, and that's why my basic message is, to the extent that it's possible for you, as a part of our "Drive for Pride," that you refrain from comparing yourself to others.

Among the people I've met -- and I've met quite a few -- there are those for whom comparisons are quick and easy, immediate. Sisters, let's say. Or brothers. It's not at all obvious that comparisons at that level are arbitrary. They seem very natural because we've grown up around these people. We've struggled for approval together, we've been nurtured, we've fought, we've seen each other in the bathtub. But it has that arbitrary side as well, because you didn't choose what family you were born into, and there are many millions of people you don't immediately compare yourself to. Any one of whom might've been your brother or sister if Mom and/or Dad hadn't been so picky about who they were intimate with.

Those closest to you are the low-hanging fruit. Of course they're the ones you're going to most naturally pick for comparisons. But the arbitrary nature of it should be a caution. As well as the mere fact that everyone is different. We hope that we've matured enough, let's say, that we're not still trying for our parents' approval as adults in the sense that we need to compete for it against the activities and strivings of siblings. There's more to life than parental gold stars.

Sometimes it pays, of course, to be born an only child, if you can manage it. In which case, you have the added burden of being their only hope. There's no group to help you average it out as far as your parents' hopes and dreams. The whole thing is sinking or swimming depending on you. That's a stress I can only imagine. You're comparing yourself to the other children they never had. Who, being idealized, can do no wrong. In which case, you just have to hope that your parents, who themselves had a childhood, have the sense to reflect back and demonstrate understanding.

Whatever all the implications are for this whole scene -- and they are many -- it will be of most help to you, for your pride and self-esteem, if you curtail or otherwise limit your natural inclination to compare yourself to others. As someone once said, "To thyself be true."

It's not going to make the inner you better by worrying so much about it, what might've been. These regrets and worries are vain.

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