When you’re as focused on self-development and improving your life as I am, inevitably, you’re going to start developing a bit of a big ego and a superiority complex. What happens is, since you’re taking on new habits and mannerisms to improve your life and feel happy within yourself, you begin to look down on others for not doing the same. You start to think that you’re “earning” your happiness and feelings of superiority because you’ve learned to be in the moment, to treat yourself right, to get your relationships sorted out, and everything else that I’ll write about here on PluginID. You start thinking something along the lines of this:
“Hey, I’m putting the work in to improve every day, I’m facing my fears and conquering them, and I’m going out and chasing my dreams – while everyone else is just asleep and not even in control of their lives. They’re totally unaware how fear controls their lives, they have no concept of self-improvement, and they’re just going to remain the same their entire lives, so of course I’m better than them!”
While the logic looks sound in theory – I know I’ve grappled with having a superiority complex for a long, long time – it’s really not true.
The truth of the matter is that you are no better or worse than any human being – you are just different.
Pause and consider that for a second.
Of course, me just telling you that you’re no better than anyone else isn’t actually going to make you believe it. I have to convince you a little bit, and that’s exactly what I’ll do.
We’re All Wired Differently
First of all, you must realize that some people don’t have the same psychological drives or needs that you have – in this case, they don’t feel the need to self-actualize like you or I do. They are very comfortable in their own skin and with their lives, and don’t have the urge to google search things like “ways to make my relationships better” or “how do I become more extroverted?” or read Tony Robbins or Debbie Ford. They are at peace with their lives, no matter how “stuck” they seem to be in one place – you readers who are more inclined to travel will exclaim things like “How could they possibly live in one area their entire life without having the curiosity to try living somewhere else?”. I’ve been there. It made me look down on people because I thought my perspective on life was the ‘right’ one, and those who didn’t break out of their comfort zone or explore as much as I did had something wrong with their brains, indoctrinated by social conditioning.
While, yes, social conditioning (that’s a whole ‘nother post, friends) does have an effect on people, it finally occurred to me that these people were just wired differently than I. I want to explore, they want to build a nest. Which is better? While I might say my philosophy is better and they may say their philosophy is better, the truth is that neither is ‘better’. It is up to the person to decide which philosophy they’d like to adopt.
Also – you have to empathize with people. Put yourself in their shoes. They have no idea what is possible – as far as the life changing benefits of things like positive thinking, living in the moment, and living life on your own terms. They don’t know what’s out there. So why condemn them or look down on them, when all that separates you and them is the knowledge of what is possible. That’s it. Certainly that knowledge doesn’t make you better than any other human being.
As far as having superiority complexes over other things, like competence, choice of hobbies, and just about everything else we compare ourselves to others with – you have to understand people in the context of the story of their lives. Or, more simply put, just empathize with them. You don’t know what their life is like, you don’t know how they grew up, you don’t know anything about them most of the time. So stop worrying about being superior – because, no matter what, you’ll never find enough evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are actually “better”. You’ll always compare yourself to others because you will always doubt your own superiority (unless you’re really deluded).
But, even getting beyond this, consider this: everyone, unless they have horrible birth defects, have, more or less, the same amazing potential as human beings. We can all learn and do amazing things, if we only applied ourselves more. Some of us were just luckier and were exposed to situations, people, and knowledge that helped us maximize our potential. I know that I’ve been lucky in the fact that I’ve grown up in a very nurturing environment that was nothing but supportive of me developing my talents and allowing me to grow, and some people just aren’t as lucky as I am.
This all goes back to empathy, guys. Realize that everyone is equal because we have the same potential in us – the potential to be great. I firmly believe in this. Whether we reach our potential is another thing entirely, but because we have that greatness in all of us, we should never put ourselves on a pedestal above any other man, nor should we lower ourselves to anyone who appears to be of higher value than us.
However, there’s one more thing that I’d like to discuss. People, of course, want friends who are of similar “value” to them, and like creating social circles around people that have similar interests and values. Since you are friends with people who fit your conception of “high value” or worth, then does that make people who aren’t your friends “worse” than your friends?
Here’s how I look at it: you can acknowledge that everyone is equal, but you just prefer to be with people who share your values. You’re not looking down on someone for not wanting to hang out with them, you just would prefer to be with people who have whatever it is you’re looking for in a friend more. No big deal, no offense, and the two of you can just go on with your lives.
The funny thing about this post is that it, at its heart, is all about treating everyone you meet with dignity and respect, since you are no longer coming from a place where you feel like you’re better or worse than them. Once you acknowledge their inherent value because of their near-infinite potential, then you can step back and treat them with respect. Your ego will always try to compare yourself to others – sometimes it’s necessary! – but by making this simple realization (that I’ve written over 1,000 words about!), you can become a more honorable human being. I struggled with this for a long time – I’m very confident, but sometimes, I’m guilty of acting a little above people – but the idea that we have infinite potential made it click for me.
I hope this post made it click for you too! Whether it did or it didn’t or I’m just full of myself, leave me a note in the comments section!