Multiple restaurants have good chicken sandwiches. I don’t think I need to pick which one is number one. Maybe that’s me being indecisive, but I don’t want to choose. I certainly have a top five, and I would gladly go to any of them. They’re all pretty good. But, why do I even feel like I have to choose one?
Where do we learn this comparative analysis of all the things? One partner versus another. This female rapper versus that one. Sweet potato pie versus pumpkin pie. Is it possible for us to like, enjoy, and appreciate things without comparing it to something else? How do we just let things be what they are? It’s important that we find a way to just like something without finding something else to compare it to.
A way that we can monitor our tendency toward comparison is to pay attention to our language. Lots of times we compare things and we don’t even realize we’re doing it because words like best, better, and top are so ingrained in our way of thinking and speaking.
I was once interviewing someone for an internship position at my practice and they asked me “What makes your practice better than other practices?” I responded by saying, “That is a really interesting question for someone who is looking for an internship. I think that is a question that you will have to answer.” I am not out here trying to be better than other practices. I’m not comparing my practice to everyone else’s. That's not important to me.
When we use comparative language, we are also forgetting that we are all different and have different preferences. I was just complaining to a friend about Memphis and had to catch myself. I don’t like barbecue, never have, and when I think about Memphis, all I can think about is the barbecue. It’s probably a great city, but Memphis isn’t for me. That doesn’t mean Memphis isn’t for anybody. Memphis may not be the best travel destination for me, but it may be for someone else.
We have to make room for things to be different and still be good.
How would the way you speak about things change if you removed the words, best and top from your vocabulary?
Do you find comparisons useful? In what ways?
The 4 Main Ways People Lie to Themselves, According to Research, by Sarah Regan on Mind Body Green.
Listen to Your Own Advice, by Arthur C. Brooks in The Atlantic.
Dopesick. This show is so good. It is a fictional take on the opioid epidemic. It shows the impact on patients who took the drug, doctors who prescribed it, people who were buying it on the street, pharmaceutical reps who were selling it and the law enforcement officials who did their best to hold the pharmaceutical company responsible for the harm caused. You can watch the show on Hulu.
Lovers and Friends, Hi, Meet My Mental Illness. In this chat with Shan Boodram, we talk about how to support a partner dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.
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