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Deepak Chopra, Alternative & Complementary Medicine, answeredThe ego wants to be number one; therefore, it has no choice but toget caught up in a never-ending game of comparing itself to others.Like all ingrained habits, this one is hard to break. A friend of mine recently learned that a woman he knew had beenkilled in a car crash. He did not know the woman well, but he knewall her friends. Within hours of her death a pall of grief hadsettled over them. The woman was beloved and had done many goodworks; she was young and full of optimism. For these reasons peoplegrieved even more, and my friend was caught up in it. "I saw myselfgetting out of my car and being struck by a hit-and-run driver, theway she was. I kept thinking that I should do more than sendflowers and a card. As it happened, I went on vacation the week ofthe funeral, and I actually found myself unable to enjoy myselfjust thinking about the shock and pain of dying that way." In themidst of these reactions, my friend had a sudden realization. "Iwas going along getting gloomier when it hit me: 'That isn't mylife. She isn't me.' The thought felt very strange. I mean, isn'tit good to be compassionate? Shouldn't I share in the grief all myfriends were feeling?" At that moment he stopped comparing himselfto someone else — not an easy thing to do because we all gainidentity from parents, friends, and spouses. An entire communityhas taken up fragmentary residence inside us, composed of bits andpieces of other personalities. Our style of suffering is learned from others. To the extent thatyou feel stoic or weak, in control or victimized, desperate orhopeful, you are adhering to reactions set down by someone else.Deviating from their pattern feels strange, even threatening. In myfriend's case, he broke out of a pattern of grief only when herealized that it was second-hand. Before that, he wanted to feelwhat was proper and expected. He wanted to fit in with the wayothers saw the situation. As long as you compare yourself toothers, your suffering will persist as a way of fitting in.