Lessons you can share with your kids or with your inner child.
# 8 Think like a circle not like a ladder.
What do I mean by that??
As people, we compare ourselves in all kinds of ways. We think of success in terms of grades, money, fame, votes, popularity, athletic or artistic skill and all kinds of other scales. The result is that we are constantly trying to climb higher on all kinds of ladders – grades, popularity, musical, athletic, you name it – we need to be better at it! That is exhausting and it’s impossible to stay high up on any ladder all the time. We are bound to fail at something. Often.
There is a better way to think about our place in the world. That is as part of a circle. That means that no one has any greater or lesser worth than anyone else. That means that you are worth exactly the same as the person you admire the most and as the one you dislike the most! We all have exactly the same worth.
There is a big benefit to thinking like a circle. It means that we treat everyone with the same amount of respect (yes, we treat the custodian with the same respect that we treat the Principal at school) and we respect ourselves as much as we respect everyone else. It also means that our self-esteem stays high because it doesn’t depend on our achievements or on what anyone else thinks about us. We can always remind ourselves that we are part of the circle and as such we have worth that is infinite and never changes.
It is OK to be good at things and even to be better at things than someone else, but it doesn’t mean that we ARE better. It just means, for example, that you are better at geography than another student in the class. You both still have the same worth. That doesn’t change. What a relief that is!
If people would see that we are all part of a circle rather than stacked up on a ladder guess what would happen? Well, for one thing there would be no racism. No one could claim to be better than anyone else. There would be far less conflict. Ladders are unstable and there isn’t much room at the top. It leads to people cheating to get higher up than someone else or being mean or fighting to get ahead. That’s why there is so much conflict everywhere. In a circle, there is room for everyone and we can all be part of the solution to problems – everyone’s voice can be heard in a circle, but only those that shout the loudest can be heard on the tops of the ladders.
So, circles and ladders are metaphors for ways of thinking can be helpful or harmful when considering our place in the world and how to stay positive about our own sense of worth. It is OK to step off the ladder and stop comparing ourselves to others. When you think like a circle there is no need to look outside yourself to find your worth, and you’ll be helping the world to become a kinder, gentler place.
Ask yourself: How does it feel when you think you have to strive to be the best at sports, or music or math to be accepted or liked?
Tell yourself that no matter how good or bad you are at something you are always part of the circle. Notice how you feel now. Any difference?
I know firsthand the emotional and financial costs of having a troubled teenager and I don’t want that to happen to you. That's why I wrote my book What They Don't Teach in Prenatal Class: The Key to Raising Trouble-Free Kids and Teens (available on Amazon).