We have to end the war we’re waging against ourselves.
Can there really be a winner? It’s like if two people are fighting each other to the death over a pair of keys to a door that takes two people to open. If we slay the parts of ourselves that we don’t like then that door is gonna be locked forever.
Well, not really. Eventually we’re gonna find something else about ourselves that we don’t like. It doesn’t matter how much we better ourselves, we’re never going to be as perfect as we want to be. There’s always more money to make, more things to own, and more physical and mental imperfections to cover up. We can always be better friends, parents, workers, lovers, partners, and meditators.
Because “the best” is a temporary benchmark. There’s always gonna be someone who does it better than us or has it better than us. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, how far you go, or how good you have it, you’re always going to ruin it for yourself by realizing that things could be better.
There are three powerful little words that can unravel this whole thing, that can end the war in an instant: “Compared to what?” or, “Compared to who?”
“I wish I was more optimistic.” Compared to who? An emo kid or a golden retriever? “I wish I was successful.” Compared to who? Bill Gates? “I’m very unhappy.” Compared to what? Being on ecstasy?
All these views we have about who we are, what we have, what we want, how we feel, and what the world is, what happens to them when we stop comparing? I’m a chubby, hairy guy. Chubby compared to who? A ballerina? Sure. Compared to Jabba the Hutt? No. I’m hairy compared to who? Michael Phelps. Yup. A wookiee? No way. I’m a guy compared to who? Jennifer Aniston? Totally. Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson? Nope.
So we can’t define ourselves, others, and life based on comparisons because there’s always another side to it that calls bullshit. Even my lifelong depression takes a hit when I ask, “Depressed compared to what? Anxious compared to what?”
Who am I when I suspend these comparisons? What do I feel? What do I want? Am I suddenly a happy, handsome, famous writer? No, but suddenly that isn’t as important anymore. But not important compared to what?
This is the treaty we can sign with ourselves. Because if we can’t make valid comparisons, then we can’t apply like and dislike to the different aspects of ourselves. I can’t hate my laugh but love my smile because the measuring stick I used to judge those traits is gone.
To ease our suffering, we have to stop hating our suffering and the things that cause it. Then we can turn our attention to that door.