In the comparison game, your biggest archenemy, your greatest source of envy, competition and judgement is without question: YOU. You constantly compare yourself to you.
Now hold on a minute: didn’t we just decide a few posts ago that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, rather, the healthy behaviour is to measure ourselves against our own measuring stick? Ya,here it is:
Well, seems like there might be a catch in that plan too! It’s the right concept, however the starting point of that measuring stick may need to shift, and in fact, remain fluid.
Now that doesn’t seem right?? How can I measure against something that doesn’t remain static – it can’t possibly give me any realistic accuracy for comparison!?!
Bingo! Everything is made up folks! Starting points, end points, what is better, what is worse… it’s all been made up. Some things are somewhat more factual than other things e.g. the sun will rise again — or willllll it… do we really know it is rising… isn’t that just the theory-du-jour until some new discovery gives us another option? Okay, okay, we’ll leave Philosophy 101 for another day – back to human behaviour: some things are adapted more universally in an effort to make societies collaborative and function cohesively; things such as laws, policies, school systems. We don’t need to look too far to see how malleable those things are though: I live in BC Canada virtually on the Washington state border, and if my legally-married-here gay friend put one tippy toe on the south side, it would constitute societal disaster in that demographics’ decree. Our two societies grew up virtually identically, yet evidently, a fence in a field can dictate self-worth.
It reminds me of the seemingly innocuous Sunday roast yarn:
Mom makes the best roast beef in town. Every Sunday since forever you’ve watched her skillfully prepare her prime cut: trimming both raw ends off, lovingly salting it, ladling the juices over the brown beauty every 30 minutes as it cooks to mouth-watering perfection – everyone says so. One ordinary childhood day, you go to your neighbour Steve’s house for dinner and you watch his mom plunk the familiar rosy beast raw into the pan, throw it in the oven at 375° and then tell you kids to have your hands washed by 5.
Ew yuck! There’s NO WAY you’re sticking around for dinner – that’s just plain wrong how she’s cooking that beef!! That’s it, these folks are officially not good cooks and over time, relegated as weird inferior people generally; and you masterfully avoided Steve like the plague for fear of being invited to dinner again. The measuring stick had been firmly planted; and eons later when you invited your Mom and Grams to Sunday dinner in your own home, you proudly began the well-practiced routine of cutting and salting, ladle at the ready. Grams pipes up ” why are you spiking all our blood pressure with that dang salt – and whaddaya rich or something lopping off the ends of yur roast like that, geez, must be nice!” With patronizing glances between you and Mom, you reply in a diplomatic: “remember Grams, that’s the way a good roast is made – just the same as you did it for Mom when she was little, and how she did it for us when we were little!”
“Ya – til you dang kids moved out and I got a new pan and a new oven! That dang pan was never big enough for those dang roasts, and the dog needed feeding anyhow. And salt was the only way I’d have any chance of gravy drippins the way that dang oven kept overheatin! All’s you need to do to cook a roast is throw the dang thing in the oven and pour me a glass of wine!!”
Wowzer wow wow! Fancy that. One ill-conceived idea of right and wrong set your guide for comparison completely arbitrarily. Hmmm. Wonder what the spinoff of lost opportunities or re-directs might be in any one simple conclusion we draw. At the very least here, you might have scored a few more freebie dinners with the neighbours whatchamacallems – oh ya, the Jobs.
Our versions of good- bad, right- wrong, strong- weak, successful- loser are very much sculpted by where we grew up, who we grew up with, what we were taught – and of course in which era we grew up in. Sprinkle all of this with a little bit of our own personal biology, disposition, and interpretations of what we experience and you have a pretty fickle foundation in which to anchor any measuring stick. And now I’m really gonna mess with you: some of these rules, attitudes, behaviours, conclusions whatever we call them are completely unconscious: we file our interpretation in a nice little internal hiding spot with the autopilot switch on. We have no idea that some of our behaviours are actually choices, they are so embedded – just so… the way it is. Not even a notion to ask Grams about.
Now as a part of normal growth and maturity, of course, we diligently take stock of our lives at sensible intervals, checking in with the standard questions:
- what are my goals and dreams now, what do I want to do to advance them;
- who is in my life to support me, where am I giving;
- is this society I’m in one that I believe in and that is best for my goals;
- what are my philosophical and spiritual beliefs now, do I need to see more of the world to find a better fit for me…
Whaa-huh? Come on – you do this, don’t you, every few months, years at least?? I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t on any of the tests I took in school; and in my family, my circle of friends, you just jumped on the one-size-fits most conveyer belt and you were off . Re-evaluate life? Nope, definitely not on the assigned reading list.
Context is the basis for everything and context is fluid. Some people were nurtured with this ideal, some have it inherently. For all though, at any point in time we can adjust, change, toss or add any rule or measuring stick you want. That may mean seeking new people, jobs, environments, societies etc. that work with your new definitions – and there is a reality factor attached to what you can anticipate with your choice, but it is that, a choice.
More permeations of our core beliefs, inner critic, thoughts and choices to come….. MUCH more really! Here’s a perspective from Janet Robinson-Gillmore’s blog expanding on “context” from family behaviour:
And p.s. in my dictionary there is “perfect” – no need to politically-correcticize it with synonyms intimating that nothing is perfect and imperfect is perfectly perfect. My dictionary might be updated hourly, but it’s MY dictionary. Go get your own.
Read More: The Undoing of Being (page 2)
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