Thursday, September 12, 2013

Escape from Mindset Traps

     Chances are, if you live in the present culture, you have fallen into one of two insidious traps in what you believe about yourself. Two prevalent mindsets that are cultivated among people these days are either 1) that you in particular are in some way inferior or inadequate compared to others; or 2) that you are superior to other people, perfect just the way you are. You're either better than others, or worse.

     Lies, I say! All vicious, horrible, evil lies! One is self-deprecation, the other is arrogance.

     Both these beliefs function on the denial of a basic truth, one of the most basic truths that there is. All men are created equal. The mindsets above deny this. They say either that some people are worse than others (and I'm one of them), or that some people are better than others (and I'm one of them). How do people fall into these mindset traps? It's all because of  a misunderstanding regarding equality.

     People have come to assume that "equal" is synonymous with "the same." So people are not equal if they are not the same as everyone else. The effect this has on our beliefs about ourselves is that we tend to look at our weaknesses or flaws, and say that if we don't have the same ability as another, we're inferior. Or if we see that we have a strength that another doesn't have we say we're superior. In the school system, if you're great in English, but poor at science, the usual assumption is that you're not as good as the person who does well in both, and the person who does well in both is better than others who don't.

     I've got news for you: that ain't right. The only place "equal" also means "the same as" is in mathematics.

     All people are not the same. Anyone who says different needs their eyes checked. No two human beings are the same. But all human beings are equal. My point is this: You are no better or worse than anyone because you have any advantages or disadvantages that others do or don't. So you were born into a good family. That is an immense blessing, but it doesn't make you any better than the person who was born into a family torn apart by poverty and violence. So you have trouble speaking in public. So do most other people in the world. You're still no worse than the couple of folks who face their fears long enough to deliver a speech. We're all different people on even ground.

     Allow me to propose a new belief to adopt. It's my way to escape these mindset traps.

     You are a human being. That means that you have been born both with advantages and disadvantages. You are no better and no worse than anyone else because of that fact. Rather, you are unique, in a class all your own. You are equal with everyone else out there, but you are not the same as everyone else out there. You are an individual.

     From this line of thinking, there come certain responsibilities, if you truly believe this. First, you will humbly accept the duty that comes with being you. You will be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, realizing that they don't make you better or worse than anyone else. You will work to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, to be the best that you can be. And you'll rest assured in the fact that you don't have to be like everyone else because you are you.

     This entry in my log is as much directed to myself as to you, my readers. I'm trying to answer my own challenge and work to become the best, the strongest person I can be. I hope you will join me.

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