What is your default feeling to other people? Do you feel they are better than you or that you are better than them?
It is an instinctive for people to measure themselves against other people. We instinctively value ourselves in relation to others and by doing it we unconsciously determine our status towards others. This perception of our status determines if we feel comfortable in the presence of others or not. It allows us to keep boundaries intact or makes us succumb to manipulation.
Two questions arise:
- Does this measurement work for us?
- How can we use this instinctive action pro-active?
We walk into a room and the first thing we do is to look who is there. We identify those we know and greet them. Depending on our relations with them, we either go to them or evade them. Some people immediately intimidate us and some immediately make us feel comfortable. Obviously when we feel intimidated, it does not work for us.
This “go to” or “evasion” is determined by our subconscious measurement or evaluation of our relative status towards other people. It is the brains preconditioned way of playing it safe. If we have a positive status with someone, we feel safe and move towards that person and visa verse.
These preconditioned mind maps are created throughout our lives and therefore can be re-created.
The first step in re-creating is to accept this process as normal. Do not fight against it by stating you do not care what others think about you. You do care – either consciously or unconsciously. The conscious way is always the best, because then you can manage the process.
I would like to propose a status continuum as a tool to assist us in the conscious management of this process.
In the center of the continuum is the confidant ego. This is present when the individual has created a positive self-esteem from the interactions with life. You have been tested and know your ability. You have internalized you value and accepted the scope of your influence.
To the left of this continuum is the macho and wannabe ego. This individual hides an unconscious inferiority with a false sense of possibility. Dreaming that he/she will be great but not willing to pay the price to be great. Pretending to be the dream, but lacks the substance to carry it.
To the right of the continuum is the arrogant and conceited ego. This individual denies a feeling of inferiority by judging themselves as better than others. There has been some accomplishment. Either by the individual or the group the individual identifies with. The past success unfortunately keeps on defining the individual.
The confidant ego is created by a dynamic process were the self-esteem is kept healthy, like keeping one’s body healthy with exercise and a good diet. The confident ego has made peace with its past, has clear goals for the future, but lives in the presence. It accepts both its strengths and weaknesses as part of the holistic picture and plays with its strengths and outsources its weaknesses. It is mindful of its mental maps and thinking patterns and changes them to be effective. The confident ego tends to go into optimal performance aka Flow, easier and more often than any of the other egos on the continuum.
Hopefully this tool offers a useful structure to think in when we measure ourselves against other people. Remember we create our own life.