Comparison and Self-Ignorance
Comparison is a measure we use to judge ourselves against something that we believe we are or are not. Each time we compare ourselves to something that we should or should not be, we dismiss our needs. This dismissal is tantamount to ignoring the requirements of our body, mind, and soul all the while supporting self-ignorance.
Our comparisons are designed to either inflate or deflate what we think we are and push ourselves into being what we are not. Often times we do not even think but bow, to quote Marshall McLuhan, to the medium being the message, for example the author’s appearance rather than the content of the book. The more colourful or appetizing medium is the greater our need to make the comparison and fulfil it. We compare ourselves to then live into “what is not” rather than living into “what is”. Every time we compare ourselves to others, to the way we were, to what we think we should be, we condemn our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls to unconsciousness and self-ignorance.
What we compare ourselves to
We want to keep up with the Jones’ so we compare cars, homes, furniture, and children’s accomplishments, performance, intellect, ad infinitum. Instead of living a considered life we live end up living a comparative life fraught with conflict. Instead of our own measuring stick we use any stick that seems to be the ideal for the moment. We torture ourselves into all kinds of different shapes and sizes in every aspect of life. A woman five feet ten inches starves herself into the dress size of a woman of 5 feet tall and is praised for the accomplishment while another ends up in hospital with kidney failure and is called stupid. One man runs and ends up winning a marathon and is praised while another man runs and damages his hip joints and has to have them replaced and is pitied. Physiology varies from person to person, some can run longer marathons and some can live on a little sleep. Praising what is natural to a body or pitying what is unnatural both have the same basis- ignorance. We could also say that our desire to fulfil an ideal is: the rejection of diversity, prejudicial, and intolerant.
Not only do we compare ourselves to others but to our own history. We look into our past and say over and over “I am not what I used to be.” Or “I used to be able to do such and such and now I cannot.” Despite that “what we used to be” got us into the mess we are in today.
The Consequences of Comparison are twofold
The consequences of comparison are metaphorically the death of the soul or living a dead life. Comparison has become a branding that each individual wears not only in designer labels but designer humans. By the same token the urgings of the soul or something from within is desperately trying to be part of something. Comparison seems to be the way we are seeking out something, though rife with self-ignorance, it give us clues to what we are seeking, that is, if we are truly seeking. When the body, mind, and soul do not behave the way we want; when, despite meeting all the comparatives we have made for ourselves, and we still are in conflict then we come, possibly, to our wits end, desperate to find something to assuage the hurts. This signals that something we need is seeking us out. Desperation signals that something is wrong. We feel a sense of yearning and an emptiness telling us that comparing ourselves is not working.
In addition, each time we compare ourselves try to become what we are not we reaffirm that we are not adequate the way we are. We are supporting that we are faulty and needing repair. Comparison in this way is, in effect, a deep dishonouring and disrespect of Self and others. It only serves to undermine our selves causing us to manipulate and abuse ourselves and others into being what we are not. Comparison, ultimately, is used as a weapon to defend ourselves from loving ourselves as we are.
The neuroses that result, as Jung described are the signal that we are in a struggle, a conflict that is letting us know that something is seeking our attention. It seems that there is a sense of aliveness from the neurosis itself. Those of us, who find that the conflict is experienced deeply, profoundly begin a process of self-inquiry. Once the desire to free ourselves of blame through living into our comparisons is no longer working, we begin to examine needs more honestly.
Comparison can humble or humiliate. Either way the process of freely living into what is, rather than being limited by what should or should not be, happens when we honestly see what we are doing when we compare. Conscious self-inquiry requires honestly investigating who we think we are or who we think we should or should not be.
Comparing ourselves can serve to exculpate ourselves or blame ourselves more deeply. The resultant suffering or triggering of neurosis is the alarm that lets us know that we are alive and seeking out a better way to do things. Comparison being one of the ways that leads to dismissing our own needs.
Self-inquiry can begin by investigating what our needs are at this moment in time. Life is ever changing, the planet is in orbit so we are never in the same place for very long, and our cells are changing so we are not even the same, we require different amounts of water depending on the moment, hence our needs are changing with the passage of time. If our requirements change then we have to see ourselves in a new light in any given moment. The past cannot be the measure that we use for the present nor can some external ideal.
Conflict and comparison
The conflicts we experience are clues that the unconscious is trying to communicate with us. We try to avoid, suppress, deny, or push away conflict but they are the signals letting us know what is happening. When we are comparing and experience conflict it tells us something wants to be heard. We keep forcing ourselves to live into the comparison but the body, mind, and soul cry out by resisting our pressures. Each time we support that we are not good enough by comparing something cries out letting us know that we are hurting. We delude ourselves into thinking that what is crying out is the part of us that wants to be something else. This delusional thinking keeps us continually hurting ourselves, dismissing the cries. Much like telling a dark haired, dark eyed child that they should be blond and blue eyed!
We underestimate that shedding light on something that was hidden is just what is needed for healing to happen. When we are sure that we know what is wrong with us we can be sure we are on the wrong track! If we knew what was holding us back then the problem would be resolved. Why keep seeking if we already have the answer? We keep seeking because we need to shed light on what is holding us in the same old repeated behaviours.
We can make changes via self-examination, seeing things from a different perspective, and shedding light on what we do not see. When we explore what we have been assuming about ourselves and life then we can shed light on what we have not seen and make room for new ways to live life and meet our needs. Comparison is just one of those ways that we have used to support our assumptions about life and self. We also find more and more proofs that we are good or not good enough by comparing ourselves to the world outside of ourselves further shrouding ourselves in self-ignorance. By shedding light on comparing and finding out why we continue to compare ourselves, despite the obvious hurts that comparison supports, we can change our behaviours.