When I wrote last week’s blog about Comparing and Should-ing, I knew there was a Paul Harvey. . . the rest of the story moment that is so rich it needed to be a stand alone blog. It’s all about how we relate and communicate with each other.
I’m calling it the comparison syndrome. We all do it all the time in our everyday conversations with each other, and we’re not aware we’re doing it – which is why I want to talk about it. It’s like, “you think you’ve got it bad – I’ve got it worse!”
Instead of listening and understanding, here’s an example of a typical conversation exchange:
My friend says, “I am overwhelmed with all I have to do.”
“Me too”, I reply. I’m exhausted from the last few days, you should see my schedule.”
Not only have I not acknowledged how my friend is feeling – I have taken the attention off of her and put it onto myself. It’s like saying, “what’s going on with you doesn’t matter. I am more important.”
Here’s another one –
“I hate how I look in this outfit. It makes me feel fat.”
My friend says, “I’ve just got to lose these 5 pounds I’ve put on.” This response only makes me feel more aware of how I’m feeling.
Why do we do this? It might help us if we understood what’s going on inside our minds.
1. We’re Self-absorbed – so concerned with our own plight that we are oblivious to what might be going on with someone else.
2. We’re Competitive – no matter what’s happening to them, I’ve got it worse than anyone else.
3. We get Defensive – I want someone to care about what’s going on with me. who cares about them?
I believe we all want and need most in our relationships is to be heard and understood – and to feel loved.
None of us really want to make another person feel like they don’t matter. I know that what we want is for our presence to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
It takes very little to change a person’s day – maybe even just a sentence or two.
Referring to the examples above, it can be as simple as saying something like –
“I wish I could ease your work load — what I can do that might help is take a few deep breaths with you to free some of the tension you’re feeling.”
“It’s hard when we look in the mirror and judge ourselves. I want you to know that when I look at you I see only the beauty that shines out from inside you.”
Now doesn’t this feel better?