Better Than YOU, One-Upmanship, Identity

Do you know people who live in "One Up- Land"?

They're always on the lookout for things someone they know has done "wrong", and are always looking for ways to be "right". They have a hard time just BEING.

They're always on the lookout for someone to compare themselves to.


If they go for a hike, they are a better hiker than someone else.

If they talk about the weather, they know more about what's going to happen (every time, regardless of whether they actually know or not).

Their car is better, faster, cleaner, bigger, or more fuel efficient.

Their shoes, clothes or hair can't just be good for THEM, or what they personally LIKE, they have to be BETTER than someone else's in order to be good enough.

They can't just do their job well, they have to find someone they are better- than at their job, and if they can't, they will resort to other comparisons between themselves and their coworkers in order to feel okay.

They can't just be a good musician and enjoy singing or playing, and be grateful that they are doing something they love, they have to be seen as BETTER THAN someone else, and may sabotage another musician who intimidates them.

They can't just feel like they are good-looking enough, they have to compete with anyone who others might find attractive, and may try to destroy the reputation of anyone they think is better-looking (destroying the "attractiveness" of that person to others).

They can't have a discussion and just listen to other's points of view, experiences, or opinions, they have to have someone who is RIGHT and someone who is WRONG. (This is why they will argue with a person who is giving an account of their OWN experiences.)

They can't just follow, embrace, or learn about their own spiritual or religious beliefs, they have to be MORE spiritual or MORE religious, or MORE pious, or MORE in touch with God (or Gaia, or Aleister Crowley...) than someone else.

They can't just be interested in certain topics and subjects, they have to be seen as MORE interested, or MORE intellectually gifted THAN someone else.

Everything can only be "good" if it's BETTER than someone else.

Everything is in the context of playing KING OF THE HILL, or winning a game, or gaining territory.

They seem to believe that everyone else thinks and lives this way as well.

It's just a developmental delay; when children display this, we aren't surprised, and call it "immaturity". The child is seeking identity, a way to be SEEN as something or someone specific. "The Toughest Kid", "The Smart Kid", "The Expert ...." "The Most Beautiful", "The Leader", "The Lone Wolf", "The Powerful One", etc. All of these identities are in the world all around the child, and children SEE that adults DO GIVE people with these labels extra respect. So, of course they are going to believe that's how one gets respect and attention. IT'S TRUE, in the general superficial world at large, unfortunately. But the identities are hollow, they're just LABELS. Children don't know this, they're children. And if they are surrounded by adults who think those LABELS are real Identity as well, they will have a hard time developing a REAL INNER SELF, they will keep thinking that those superficial labels ARE "Who A Person IS".

Like a snail who puts all of its growth energy into its shell, but very little into its actual BODY. The shell might end up big and beautiful, but the snail itself will not be healthy or strong, and won't be able to handle carrying it around. Believing that its shell is the only thing that's important, it will keep diverting energy there, and the shell will just get heavier and heavier, and the snail will get less and less healthy.

Adults must guide children to learn where HEALTHY identity comes from, and HEALTHY self-confidence.
A person who is ACTUALLY an "expert" doesn't need to have that as an identity, and will not lose their expertise when another expert shows up. The only reason they are an "expert" is because they were interested in a subject, and learned a lot about it because of their interest.
Another person being good at something does not diminish or delete our own talent or skill.
Another person being good-looking doesn't suddenly turn us ugly or unacceptable.

(If we DO find that we are surrounded by people who abandon us or put us down every time someone else shows up that's talented, skilled, or good-looking, the problem is THEM; they lack integrity and loyalty, and are not genuine; we need to find new friends.)

Healthy competition is good, and fun, and is ALWAYS done in good spirit. If it's not fun, if the humor has left, if it's taken seriously, if it's in arrogance or mean-spirited, if people are being assigned "VALUE" over one another, then it's not healthy anymore.

When children display these One-Upmanship behaviors, we call it "immaturity".

When adults display this, we still call it "immaturity".