A 15-year-old asked me this question on a Zoom workshop:
“I love my friends. But I am ceased with jealousy when they perform better than me. This affects my performance, complicates my friendships, and makes me a quitter.”
Why is it that better performance from a loved one, instead of producing joy, produces the opposite?
Most often, it is because our culture reprimands mistakes so much more than it celebrates learning. The environments in which we grow up, even our homes and schools, are unnecessarily high-tension places. MISTAKES ARE MET WITH SHAMING BY AUTHORITY FIGURES.
Every minute of every day, many students in elementary schools through colleges feel that if they make a mistake, others will think less of them. Hence they quit before they can be proven inferior. But how do you learn anything without making mistakes?
What kind of messages are we sending out,
a. When we are eager to hear ONLY correct answers from kids and reject mistakes
b. When we shun their failures rather than welcome them to examine them & learn from them
That, mistakes are undesirable? That the person who gave the correct answer is great and therefore “better than me”?
No wonder our kids are always stressed out and not taking the risks necessary for learning and want to quit anything that challenges them.
Worse still, they can’t feel genuinely happy for a friend, which is the greatest of all tragedies.
Mindset matters. Let’s consciously create a better one for our kids.