“You vs. You.” “Beating the athlete in the mirror.” These sayings have become popularized in our world today. Likely, because we as humans are so hard on ourselves. I’m hardly an authority when it comes to human psychology, but I have found that comparing ourselves to others can be a very powerful source of motivation. However, it can also create frustration and jealousy if this motivation isn’t framed positively such that love and admiration fuel your competitive desires.
My son, Xander, is 14-years-old and he is struggling right now, grappling with jealousy. What’s really hard for me to see though, is that he knows it’s dragging him down. Yet, he feels helpless to do anything about it. Specifically, he’s jealous because one of his classmates is stronger than him. A classmate he truly likes and considers a friend. Which makes it all the more difficult for him, because he knows he is sinning in God’s eyes. He asked we go to confession last weekend after mass. On the way home, he told me what he confessed and what our pastor had to offer him. It helped, but it was short lived. One week later, after a training session with this same friend, the “Green Monster” jealousy reared its ugly head and my son was once again grappling with it. Here is the conversation we had. Forgive the quality of this video. We were recording our training session at the time. However, the message is what truly makes up for the quality.
I saw my son was struggling, the coach in me came out, and the rest just flowed like water from a faucet. I honestly did not plan this nor had I given even similar pep talks to others. However, looking at our interaction that night in hindsight, I realized this is not new thinking for me. I’ve lived these words on occasion in my competitive past. Though, this is not a true innate virtue of mine as I too have been guilty of negatively comparing myself to others. This tells me the lesson we learned together that night is now something I will carry with me and I hope this perspective is something you can carry with you as well.