I have recently suffered a series of crushing defeats, and by all accounts – as long as I continue to play, I will keep being defeated. My battleground of choice is an iPhone word scrambling game, and my opponent is just that good.
I was whining to a friend about how how much better, how much smarter, how much faster my opponent was, and how I wondered why he kept playing with me when surely it was no fun and no challenge to play with someone so much less able than he. My friend observed with rue: “That’s probably how everyone else feels when they play with you.” And with those words, she held a clear mirror up for my soul.
We are so quick to feel that we are “less than” others. We admire their gifts, their talents; and even if we don’t quite stretch as far as being jealous of them – we still feel that they are “more than” us. We observe that they are smarter than, faster than, craftier than, more attractive than, cleverer than, richer than. And, perhaps, they are.
But there are two grave mistakes to make when we feel that someone else is “more than” us in some area:
1. The first mistake is to assume that their being “more than” means that we are “less than”. Rather than seeing ourselves as “less than”, maybe we would do better to see it as “different than”: a celebration of diversity is so much healthier than the cutting lens of comparison.
2. The second mistake is to assume that because I see someone else as “more than” and therefore “better”, that that person is using the same lens to judge me, and is somehow seeing me as “less than” and therefore “worse”.
I was a lonely kid in my early years at school, and I remember wanting so much to be friends with some of the other kids. One little girl once had the courage to tell me “but you’re so clever, and you must think I am so stupid.” It was a shock. Not once had I ever thought that this sweet girl was less than. I so badly wanted her friendship and attention, and I was deeply grieved that she had turned her more-than-perceptions into a presumption that I would think her less-than.
The person you feel is richer probably isn’t looking at you and thinking “she’s so not at my level in life.”
The one you fear is so much more attractive probably isn’t thinking “gosh, she’s too frumpy to befriend.”
And the one I’m playing word games with probably isn’t thinking “wow, I really wish I could play with someone with more ability.”
Just a thought.
And now, it’s time for me to go and enjoy another round of crushing defeat 🙂