As humans, we instinctively learn through imitation. We do not merely imitate behaviors but we also imitate desire. We learn to desire the things that those around us desire. Inevitably, we’re competing over the object of that desire.
Yesterday we ended with two questions: Do you feel this (the competition for friendship and community)? Do you feel that other people are getting the quantity or quality of relationships that you should be getting?
I certainly feel that competition. I have felt it my whole life. I never felt like I had many friends and, when I did, always felt the friends that I had would rather spend their time with someone else if they had the option. I can see now that this was not always the truth, but it was my fear based on my internal sense of competition with people for relationships and a sense of belonging. There have been times where I see people who have friendships that I want, and I have tried to undermine the people I’m jealous of in order to get those friends.
In other words, I’ve spent my life desperately wanting to belong. And, I’ve always felt that in order for me to belong to a group someone else could not. There are only so many slots available. This is not a conscious thought I’ve had but an internal sense that there is never quite enough room at the table for me (unless, of course, someone else’s spot is taken away).
I believe I’m not alone in this and I believe many people struggle with this same internal struggle to believe that all can belong at once without anybody losing their spot at the table. We struggle to believe this because we’re so deeply entrenched in competition with each other for what we desire which is, in this example, the need to belong.
The question is, how do we rise above competition in such a way as to end the cycle of relational competition?