Saturday, January 2, 2016

                                                    HOW ARE YOU WIRED?

     A dear friend wrote me a note the other day to compliment me on a poem I wrote She said, “I could hate you!” because of the talent she says I have. I laughed at first, but then I thought to myself, this really happens: people hate each other because sometimes one’s successes make the other feel less than. My friend used the term, “inept.” Believe me, this woman, still going strong into her 90th birthday is way beyond talented and successful. I have lost friends, however, because they perceived my talents to be “more than” theirs. I, too, have been guilty of avoiding certain people at times, because their beauty or education threatened me. I know this may sound absurd to some, but based on the reading I have done over the years, many people feel “less than” when comparing themselves to others.

     The book I am currently reading and recommend highly, “The Fifth Agreement,” gives a very  succinct explanation of why we feel this way. I will not go into the details, but some might walk away from this book saying, “Fine, I guess I just shouldn’t compare myself to others.” Well, that’s true, but impossible, as we all do; it’s human nature. So if we are going to compare, the trick is framing our differences and “successes” or “talents” in a way that is non-threatening. I will reread this chapter numerous time until it sinks in, as our perceptions of ourselves and of others can be so totally wrong that we can do some real damage to our psyches unnecessarily.

     When I was growing up, education and money were valued above most other things. I had wonderful parents who could only teach me from their own perspectives, but my Dad was all about status and salary. Neither of my parents were fortunate enough to get a college education, yet they were both very successful in their respective careers. My father always felt inferior, however, to anyone with a college degree or with what he considered to be “a helluva lot of money.” He was impressed by those things more than the kind of people they were. Helping others, being compassionate, sacrificing were important, but they were not in neon like the two great “S”s. 

     As a result of all this, I have two degrees and an almost 3rd (I hear him saying, “Why didn’t you ever finish that PhD?”), but I tend to be threatened when I hear of a peer, especially a beautiful one bragging about her degree. Intellectually, I know that’s ridiculous, but the “wiring” that is discussed in my book has already been laid, and it’s hard to ignore it. As long as we recognize the feelings and don’t act on them, I guess that’s fine.

      What about you? How are you wired? Do certain things, people, issues threaten you? If so, can you trace the feelings back to beliefs from your past? If not, maybe you need to write a book too:)