As a kid, I used to play king of the hill. The game is quite simple. The object is to be the one standing on top of the hill, and only one person can win, and the way to obtain your spot on the top is to simply push the current person who is on top of the hill, off. It’s this massive battle of everyone pushing whoever happens to be on top or close to the top. There’s no end to the game either. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. We’d play until people starting getting hurt, and then we’d stop, that seemed to be the only way to end the game.
As adults, we still play King of the Hill, but we’ve taken on the modified version which is an emotional and social battle rather than a physical one.
We can easily get invested in pushing whoever is above us over so that we can get on top. The problem is that we are connecting our sense of worth to being on the top of that hill. If you’re not on top, then you’re not very valuable, important, or useful. So no wonder we fight so hard to defend our spot on top, we’re defending our worth after all aren’t we? But we are fighting the wrong battle. Recognizing our worth and value is essential, but our value and worth aren’t tied to being the only one on top of the hill. In fact, it’s not even linked to being on top of that hill.
It can be easy to feel threatened by the accomplishments, achievements, and successes of others. If they seem to be doing better than us, we panic. We look at our current status and see the gap. And in reality, that person you are looking at, the one on top, they might have more talent and capability than you currently do, but that is different than value and worth. Just because you can’t ice skate as good as Nancy Kerrigan doesn’t mean you have to take her out at the knees so that you can matter too.