The comment, “It’s all relative,” can diminish something we think is important. Let’s define relative so you can learn how to use it to improve your life rather than feel hurt by it.
Have you ever been frustrated that you thought something (good or bad) was a big deal and someone else didn’t? The law of relativity states that nothing is good or bad, big or small, high or low (etc) until you relate it to something else. If the person you share your situation with has had much bigger things happen in their life, it may seem small to them and this can create conflict as it may feel like they are not taking you seriously.
The universal law of relativity is all about comparisons. Simple example: a 12×12 inch box is small next to a 14×14 inch box. The same 12×12 inch box is large next to a 9×9 inch box.
Do you agree that we compare all the time? The challenge is that we usually compare ourselves and to someone else who has or is doing something we want to have or do so we usually come out on the losing end. We compare ourselves to women we think are more attractive, in better shape or really have their stuff together in their career and we feel disappointed, unhealthy, unattractive or depressed.
Since the law works both ways, when we compare ourselves to women who may have experienced a tragedy or have an illness, we may feel grateful and more fortunate about the life and health we have.
It’s all relative becomes beneficial is when we relate our situation to someone else’ and realize it’s not that bad. For example, we could be having what seems to be a continuous disagreement with a friend about values that is driving us nuts! It seems big and it feels even bigger and very important. Someone else we know may have just lost their friend in a tragic accident, in which case our situation is small and can be managed to retain our friendship. Whereas the other person would love to have such a small challenge as a simple disagreement if they could just have their friend back.
My personal example:
I used to feel discouraged and frustrated driving an older (although beloved) vehicle. It seemed like a big deal to me since our vehicle is an extension of who we are, plays a big part in our self image and makes a statement as to our success or lack there of. My car seemed to be out of alignment with who I had become but replacing it at that time wasn’t financially possible. Then I met someone who had an older car like mine that got totaled in an accident. Since it wasn’t worth much to anyone but her, she only got a few dollars for it and couldn’t even afford to buy another vehicle. My situation wasn’t nearly as bad as hers! It was all relative. When I related my situation to someone else’ situation, I felt grateful and blessed to still have my car because it was very valuable to me even if it may not be to an insurance company.
The universal law of relativity is something we use all the time but usually to our detriment instead of to our advantage.
Now that we can define relative, we can eliminate the hurt that used to come from someone disagreeing with what we find important and possibly start a conversation with them about it for better understanding. Chances are good that something they think is important, doesn’t mean much to you and pretending it does is fake – better to understand and communicate differences.
Please let me know one way you can make one of your situations better by using the law of relativity. You can share in a comment below.