A client just told me about terminal uniqueness.
It’s a term used often in Alcoholics Anonymous to refer to the tendency to believe that our particular experience, obstacles, or struggles are unique to us.
They are unlike anything anyone else deals with.
Of course it looks that way. We see the nuances of our own stuff, while we see the generalized picture our mind creates of others’ stuff.
We feel our own experience brought to life within us in vivid technicolor detail, while we only make a black and white guess at what things feel like for them.
We have the ability to create and recreate our struggles over and over and over again, making it feel like “life out there” continues to thrash us around. We have the ability to do this when it comes to others too, but we don’t. We don’t think about them nearly as much as we think about ourselves because we are the center of our own thought-created universe.
So terminal uniqueness isn’t all that surprising when you look at how our experience comes to life within us.
Surprising or not, there are some unfortunate symptoms. We have a way of digging in our heels when our problem looks special. We own it, fondle it more, identify with it, call it “ours”. It looks exclusive to us so this makes perfect sense.
We innocently close ourselves off to help. What others have to share doesn’t really apply to us or “our” problem, we think. We don’t let ourselves hear new things because our mind is so full of what we’re already sure of: we’re different.
The thing about terminal uniqueness is that it’s a lie. It’s a big ole’ illusion.
One of the best things about the understanding of who-we-really-are that I share is that it lays terminal uniqueness to rest.
An implication of the fact that we are innately well, feeling thought-brought-to-life in each and every moment, is that we are all exactly the same. Beyond the thought-created-experience, we’re one.
Experience comes up, is brought to life within us, and is then replaced with new experience. Over and over from the moment we’re born until the moment we die, no exceptions.
Sure, the details of what we experience is different for each of us, and it’s different for one of us from one moment to the next. But that’s the point. It’s tough to hang too much on that moving, changing, impermanent, passing-by experience when we see how varied and temporary it is.
When we don’t have to worry about what we’re feeling (sadness vs. fear vs. giddiness), how it feels, how long it lasts, if it’s acceptable or not…
…we get to look past those ephemeral details and toward the amazing fact that we’re all one-in-the-same, tasting different temporary flavors of the exact same human experience.
It’s like the fact that everyone on earth experiences weather. We’re the same in that way, regardless of whether it happens to be raining, sleeting, or snowing on your house right now.
We are all exactly the same, experiencing thought-brought-to-life within us. That’s what never changes; what is stable and true.
Terminal oneness. Terminal solidarity. Terminal commonality.
Those aren’t an illusion.