A man walks into a big box electronics store (let’s call him Ed). He Isn’t sure exactly what he wants, but he knows he wants a big TV. A salesperson offers him assistance which he declines. Twice. On the third try he grudgingly accept the help being offered to him. This salesperson goes out of their way to ensure that the man leaves the store happy, truly offering above and beyond what would reasonably be expected.
At the conclusion of the sale, the salesperson offers to ring in his purchase for him. The man asks “do you work on commission?”. The salesperson admits that they do, and Ed gruffly declines his offer and takes his purchases to the front of the store, ensuring that the person who put in so much effort to help him did not get compensated for it.
This is not an uncommon occurrence. It is also not rational behaviour.
This is a symptom of someone who is extremely angry, bitter, and also self-absorbed. They feel deprived of something in their own life, be it love, money, freedom, pleasure, affection, physical contact, or any number of other possibilities. Rather than turn inward and search their soul for answers, they have instead cast blame outward.
It is everyone else’s fault. Everyone is trying to rip me off. The government is out to get me.
The problem with beliefs like those is not so much that they are untrue, but that one must be totally consumed by their own self to believe them. For any of them to be true, the world would have to be revolving around one person, in this case, Ed. To a rational outside observer it is clearly evident that everyone is not trying to rip him off, and all of Ed’s problems are not everyone else’s fault, and as for the government, well, as long as Ed pays his taxes, they don’t even care if he exits so the government certainly isn’t out to get him either.
But to Ed the fact that he has to pay taxes at all if proof positive that, in fact, they do have it in for him.
For people in this state of mind, all of their losses are seen as someone else’s gain. Everyone else is having a good time at his expense. They are unable to see, or even consider, any internal causes for their unhappiness. The world has made them this way, and it’s the world’s job to fix it.
It works in reverse too. A person with Ed’s mentality not only believes others are benefiting from his misfortune, but that the success of others is directly taking something from him. That is why he went out of his way to ensure that the salesperson did not benefit from his business by receiving a commission. In his twisted mind, he would have felt cheated by the salesperson’s success. For Ed, the concept of mutual benefit does not exist. Someone else’s benefit is automatically his loss. That the salesperson would be paid extra for serving him, to Ed, makes that service seems less valuable. Ed questions whether the salesperson was even honest with him, despite that fact that he has no reason to doubt his integrity, not even a gut feeling.
How about those anti-Olympic protestors?
Another perfect example of this mentality is the anti-Olympic movement that swept over Vancouver prior, and during the 2010 Winter Games. Those who protested the government came from all walks of life, some were rich, some were poor, but all had one thing in common, the undying belief that the benefits the Olympic games would bring were going to be at their expense.
The anti-poverty groups, for instance were firmly convinced that the Olympic games were being held at the expense of social housing. This was of course bullshit. Social housing had been on the back-burner for years before the Olympics were even on the radar. The decision to host the Olympic games has had no impact whatsoever on social housing project in the province, except perhaps for the fact that Olympic Village had a significant portion of it’s real-estate set aside for social housing after the conclusion of the games.
But no matter to the anti-poverty groups. Evidence to the contrary be damned, the rich were having a party at their expense. The fact that they have actually benefited from the rich having that party is lost on them.
There is enough in this world for everyone.
You exist as an independent entity, nothing outside of yourself can ever detract from what you are. One beautiful woman does not become less beautiful because there are two beautiful women in the world.
Your neighbours’ success is not your failure. If your neighbour buys a new car, it has not suddenly made your old car less good. Your old car is the same car it was before, nothing has changed. It will still allow you to drive where you need to go, it will still fit in your garage, it’s cup-holders will still hold your coffee, and that well-worn driver’s seat will still mould to your body just as it always has. What’s yours is yours, what his is his, and the two do not affect each other. The only way you can be affected by your neighbour having a new car is if he drives it into yours while he’s texting on his cell phone.
But back to Ed.
Poor Ed. He has his TV, he has his universal remote, his new speakers, a Blu-ray player, and he even got a nice discount. No matter what, he is going to walk out of that store with exactly what he wanted, and nothing outside of himself can change that. Unfortunately, he’s to bitter to see it.
Don’t be Ed.