In part 1 of the Comparison Game, I described the general parameters of the game; the mindless chatter that occurs within our heads, how we culturally prioritize certain character traits over others, and the resulting emotional divergence among the participants; some feeling elevated while others deflated along a seemingly infinite spectrum of self-worth and self-esteem. Each comparison influences our emotional world. When we compare favorably, our emotions elevate. When we compare unfavorably, we feel slightly worse. While mostly this occurs in the background of existence, the impact on our mood and even personalities is immense.
The dark side of the comparison game illustrates how we elevate ourselves at the diminishment of others. We inflate our egos through the depreciation of our fellow human beings. For example, learning that another student performed less successfully on an exam will probably inflate our emotions while deflating theirs. This is not to say that we play the game maliciously; far from it. We don’t consciously and brutally believe that the outcome of these comparison dictates our respective value and importance; that road leads to narcissism.
However, value determination is likely a belief that we hold silently and comfortably beyond our awareness; allowing us to feel elevated without facing the inherent cruelty behind it. The dark side is subtle; its impact vast and equal to the magnitude and extent of our unconsciousness. The faint unseen motivation of merely asking a comparison question is accompanied by degrees of hope for another person’s failure or, at least, a success that doesn’t exceed our own.