For the last two nights I have had dreams about participating in a contest. For the past month I have been doing rather deep work with my dreams, trying to understand what is going on in my unconscious mind. I have been using Robert A. Johnson’s book Inner Work: Using Dreams & Active Imagination for Personal Growth (1986). It has helped me immensely.
Anyway …. looking at these two dreams I came to understand that there is a part of me, only a part, that compares myself with others – in other words, ‘holds a competition’. I imagine many of you hold competitions in your minds, comparing yourself to everyone else. Am I a winner or am I a loser?
I think in high school I felt a bit of a ‘loser’, more a failure. Eventually I simply gave up and quit. There were reasons why I was not doing well academically and they weren’t my fault. Still, I blamed myself for all of my failings. In my ‘competition’ I was definitely last.
I think that if our society, our culture had never thought about competition in any way, that many of us wouldn’t even be thinking about it. What I’m saying is that I think comparing ourselves, competing in the game of life, is a cultural thing. Competition is often the name of the game in this society. Unfortunately, when we apply it to ourselves, on a deep personal basis, we tend to come up very short. Just not good enough.
At the MDABC support group I attended for 5 years it was often said “Don’t play the comparison game. You always lose.” Comparing ourselves to others may be useful sometimes, if we want to simply understand ourselves. But when we want to rate ourselves in some kind of standing, then we tend to be in trouble – unless we’re playing a sport or game.
I think that people who don’t play the comparison game are already ‘winning’. They don’t feel the need to compare themselves, as if they are confident they are exactly where they need to be. No rating is necessary. In my dreams, I wanted to play the game in the best way possible, and in a way that I thoroughly understood what the game was all about. This is the way I want to live my life – that’s what I think my dreams are telling me. I want to understand life, not ‘get ahead’, not ‘succeed’, just play it thoroughly and well. And understand what the heck it’s all about.