by Todd Sivers
Your comparison switch is the starting point for change, because your comparison switch controls how you see the world and your place in it.
Most people don’t give much thought to their unique perspective. After all, they’ve pretty much always seen the world that way. So it is easy to miss the value of your perspective to others, or their perspective to you. You can experience the exact same thing as other people do, and draw completely different conclusions about its meaning and impact. And when you realize the difference, its easy to question, doubt, and even dismiss differing opinions because you were there. And that wasn’t what you experienced at all.
But everyone, everywhere does the same thing with every experience every day. We instantly filter what we experience through what we believe. We compare what we’re taking in through our senses to what we have experienced in the past and the conclusions about ourselves and the world that we have drawn through those past experiences, our beliefs.
When I was in high school, I had a great looking but terribly unreliable car. A 1984 Pontiac Fiero. A sleek, sporty mid-engined, two seater that ran awfully, and broke down regularly.
One day I was driving with a friend in the passenger seat when I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed flames shooting out of the grille behind the rear window. In those cars, that’s where the engine was.
I interrupted my friend, saying, “Hang on.” as I abruptly pulled to the side of the road and stopped. I hopped out of the car, grabbed a bunch of snow from the side of the road, lifted the deck lid, and packed the snow on the fire, extinguishing it.
I then closed the deck lid, got back in the car, started it, and proceeded down the road without saying anything to my friend.
After a long, silent moment, my friend asked, “Was the car... on fire?”
“Yep.” I answered.
Seeing he was startled I added, “It happens.”
We both experienced the same thing. But to my friend, having your car catch on fire was very alarming. But to me, well… it wasn’t the first time. It happened pretty regularly. And as long as I extinguished it quickly, before it got too big, it was not a major problem. It was a quirk I was willing to live with in order to drive such an awesome car. I kept an extinguisher next to the driver’s seat at all times, and I was ready to act whenever I needed to.
Every day, you experience the same things that many other people experience. But you choose to assign different meaning to those same experiences. And so, you experience those same experiences differently. They are, while exactly the same, completely different. And that’s one reason other people seem so different and so confusing sometimes.
Your comparison switch takes all your past experience, your wins, your losses, your triumphs and humiliations, your heartwarming and heartbreaking memories, and uses them to assign meaning or value to what is happening right now. And as it does that, it fully controls how you see the world and your place in it.
If the world is a big ocean, and you’re a tiny guppy, that’s because of your comparison switch. If the world is a small pond, and you’re a killer whale or a great white shark, that’s because of your comparison switch. Imagine how your life would change if you could take charge of your comparison switch and set it wherever you want it. Want the world to seem far more manageable, even conquerable? Move your switch. Want to feel like a more powerful and capable? Move your switch.
You can’t fully control what you experience day-by-day. But you can fully control what meaning you allow that experience to have for you, in your life.
That’s the power of your comparison switch.
The 9th Day - 7 Ways