Do you ever compare yourself with your co-workers, friends, siblings, cousins when you come across their social media profiles or when you meet them in person?
Do you ever feel your life could be better than theirs if …………( fill it up yourself)?
Does your list of ‘it could’ve been’ and ‘it should’ve been’ endless and you use these words very often???
If any or all of the above sound familiar then you must read on as you might find the answers as you go down the memory lane into your childhood.Psychologists today believe that humans are primarily ‘self determined’ beings and can reach their full human potential provided their basic psychological needs are fulfilled. Ryan and Deci proposed these three basic psychological needs to be :
Self determination theory
It’s now believed that if all these needs are fulfilled since childhood, children grow up to be happy and motivated humans but if any of these needs is constantly thwarted , it results in low motivation leading to unfulfilled life and multiple behavioural and psychological problems.
Without going much into the philosophical detail I’d like to mention that all the above needs are thwarted by one thing which causes maximum damage to the human psych and that is “Comparisons”. The day a child is born , he/she is constantly compared with parents, siblings, cousins , peers and many others. I am reminded of one particular incident from my own childhood where comparison by parents had almost ruined my companionship with one of my cousins who was sick and tired of constantly being compared with me that she started hating me and I felt so angry with the elders for what they did. This incident affected both of us and thwarted our needs of autonomy and relatedness.
Parents, teachers and other elders usually make these comparisons in good spirit in order to inspire the child to behave in a certain way but little do they realise the amount of damage they are causing to the little minds.
Chidren are natural learners and have an inherent tendency to learn from their surroundings in their own way. If observed keenly and without interruption, all children have certain strength areas towards which they are naturally inclined.Parents need to observant of a child’s tendencies and their interests in order to understand how they learn.
Howard Gardner(1983) proposed the theory of multiple intelligences which clearly states that there is much more to intelligence than what we have always known as the general or cognitive Intelligence . According to him , there are eight intelligences and every child is born with one or more of these intelligence types. If one is able to identify their intelligence type and learns in accordance with that, they can excel in the area of their interest and learn whatever they want.
8 types of intelligence:
For more on the theory, refer the following link:
When a child learns in accordance and harmony with their intelligence type, they not only reach their full human potential but also tend to live more fulfilled lives.
Coming back to comparisons, isn’t it now evident that if all us think differently , learn differently and have different goals and aspirations in life then how and where do comparisons fit into the picture??
Comparisons can lead to:
*low self esteem/over confidence
*constant need for approval
*feeling unsatisfied with job/ career
*undue expectations in relationships
*taking things personally/ getting hurt
*feelings of jealousy
and the list is endless. We need to understand and also help our children understand that this world is not beautiful with competition but with collaboration. So , don’t just compare yourself and your children with others as each one of us is born unique and our lives are supposed to be unique too.