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What’s the difference between being unique and feeling unique?

Have you ever been told you’re unique? How did it make you feel?

The fact is, most people take this compliment with a grain of salt, after all, we’re all children of God, we’re all unique. So, how much of a compliment is it to be told you’re unique, since it’s a label that applies to everyone?

Okay, it’s a given, you’re unique. Even your thumb print is unique. The question, however, is how unique do you feel, and does it matter?

I think it matters a lot, because your answer to this question plays a major roll in how you feel about yourself…your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. It also can affect the quality of your of your interpersonal relationships.

I contend that most people don’t really appreciate how truly unique they are, otherwise, there wouldn’t be such an inclination for people to compare themselves to others, whether it be their looks, body, clothes, wealth, status, intelligence, or competence.

In making such self-defeating, irrational comparisons, they conclude they are either better than or less than. This kind of thinking, unfortunately, and inescapably, to feelings of either superiority or inferiority, neither of which is an admirable character trait.

The need to feel superior to another person ultimately springs from deep-seated feelings of insecurity.

Why is it important to understand this premise?

For one, in my opinion, superiority feelings are often at the root of  bullying, so topical nowadays. Further, I believe inferiority feelings are often tied to teenage depression and suicide, another newsworthy topic. Unfortunately, the habit of comparing ourselves to others applies not only to our youth,  but in more subtle ways, it  can apply to adults, as well. 

Regarding feeling superior, a Hindu proverb states, “There’s nothing noble in being superior to another person, true nobility lies in being superior to your previous self.”

I’ve also learned that an ego problem is simply the exaggerated concern with proving one’s uniqueness or greatness, whereas all that is necessary is the simple recognition, respect, and appreciation of one’s own innate and unique awareness. 

An egotist, incidentally, is not someone who thinks too much of himself, but too little of other people, and humility doesn’t mean putting yourself down or feeling insignificant, it means appreciating the inherent importance, uniqueness, and greatness of others.

Eleanor Roosevelt reminds us that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent or approval.”

Back to the question, just how truly unique are you, and how deeply unique do you feel?

Before answering, consider these mathematical facts involving variables.

One, the odds of matching 7 lottery numbers out of 49 possibilities is over 85 million to one. 

Two, a social security number using 9 digits can produce one billion possibilities.

Three, there are more possible moves in a chess game, played on 64 squares with 32 pieces, than there are atoms in the universe.

Now ask yourself, how many variables go into the development of one’s mind?

In contemplating the answer to this question, consider that no two people who have ever lived have the exact same family, educational, social, political, religious, economic, cultural, racial, time or place background. Not even twins.

This means no two people have the exact same psychological, philosophical, and spiritual perspectives on life. In short, No two people think in exactly the same way. 

They think differently  have different wants, needs, and preferences; different fears, doubts, and worries; different loves, hates, and prejudices.

They have different goals, dreams, hopes, and wishes, different desires, plans, and aspirations.

as well as different habits and attitudes, different potentialities and capacities, and different past experiences, positive and negative.

The list could go on.

Given the immeasurable number of variables that comprise one’s unique awareness, what are the odds or finding a duplicate of you?

To answer, consider that your brain is comprised of 100 billion neurons. Although 100 billion is a large number, it is nevertheless a finite number. How then can we say our potential is infinite or unlimited?

This is true because each neuron has a network of thousands of synapses and dendrites that allow it to communicate with other neurons through thousands of pathways.

This understanding leads to the conclusion that the number of permutations and combinations of creative possibilities in your brain is the number 2 x itself 10 trillion times. It’s a number so large, it exceeds the number of elementary protons and neutrons in the universe, plus all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world. 

To put it another way, consider that however complex a computer chip is, our brains are still infinitely more complex than all the computers in the world linked and networked together with all the telephone lines in the world.

Mathematically, the message is clear, your mind is infinitely unique among all the people who have ever lived and ever will. In short, your potential for original, unique, and creative thought is immeasurable and incomprehensible. 

Given our differences, is it not a wonder that any relationships survive? It takes work, compromise, and a lot of forgiveness to reconcile the differences. It takes a tolerance for conflict, and a lot of flexibility. Our goal then is to learn to accept and appreciate ourselves and others not in spite of our differences but because of them.

To avoid the jealousy, insecurity, and possessiveness that ruins so many relationships, remind yourself that you are a unique and special human being. You can not be duplicated or replicated, you are truly irreplaceable, even if not totally indispensable. 

Your sense of self-worth, then, is inherent in your understanding and appreciation of your uniqueness and your God given, unlimited and untapped, creative potential.

So, believe in yourself. Love your uniqueness. You have a special contribution to make to the world, and, if not to the world, to those you touch and those who love you. Trust your creative potential to find solutions to any problem you encounter. And remember this quote, attributed to Jesus, “When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this one thing, you haven’t.” 

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