And I hate myself for that.
We humans have a destructive tendency to view everything as a zero-sum game. We are so focused on the idea of winners and losers that it’s hard for us to imagine that everyone can win. It feels like, if you get yours, I won’t be able to get mine. It feels like there’s only so much of the pie to go around.
This is wrong! This is terribly, destructively, unequivocally wrong in many aspects of life. Take immigration, which is a hotbed issue in many countries. (Don’t get political on me, I’m just talking about the economics of it.) It feels like, if I, a natural born citizen, lose a job to an immigrant, then I have been harmed, right?
Wrong! Dangerously, ignorantly, misguidedly wrong. What happens in an economy is that, when more people play the game (work, spend money), they require more goods and services, which means businesses expand and are created to fulfill those needs, which means the entire economy grows. It might feel like I was wronged in losing out on that job, but it’s growing the entire pie so that both the immigrant and I can win. How can that be bad?
But it doesn’t feel right. Even as I explain it, I understand how that feels when you get that rejection letter. It feels like there was only spot and they took it, which means I’m out of luck jack.
I feel this all the time. When I hear from a reader who is writing as well, I want to encourage them, to cheer them on. I know intellectually that we can all win together, and there’s enough room for all of us to have a slice of the pie.
I know this, and yet a little traitorous voice in the back of my head disagrees. “If they succeed, you can’t!” it shouts. “You should get yours first. Then you can safely cheer them on once they can’t hurt you.”
No. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong! This is totally wrong, and I hate that part of myself. That’s the lizard brain talking, the ancient part of our minds from back when it was eat or be eaten, and the part that still views others getting ahead as a sign we’re about to fall behind the herd and die.
I fight against this voice every chance I get. I fight against it so that I can wholeheartedly encourage, cheer for, and help anyone trying to do great things, because there’s enough room for all of us, and because it’s the right thing to do.
And yet the voice is still there, and it always will be. Maybe you have that voice as well. I think we all do, or else we humans wouldn’t have survived long enough to create the languages, computers, or blog software you’re using to read this post.
To be honest, I’ve been scared to write this post for nearly a year. It’s an ugly part of me, and I wish it would disappear, but I don’t think it ever will. I think this is something many of us struggle with, and I hope by putting this out there it might help some of you come to terms with your own struggle. At the very least, its made me feel better about my own.
I truly, honestly, wholeheartedly wish for everyone’s success. I truly believe there’s enough room for us all. That little voice in the back of my head isn’t me. I’ll keep the lizard brain on a short leash, so we can all succeed together.