Integrity, Anyone?

As an infant scans his mother’s face he absorbs clues to who he is; as adults we continue to search for our reflections in others’ eyes. While the parent-child bond is not necessarily destiny, it does take quite a bit to alter self-concepts forged in childhood, whether good or bad. People rely on others’ impressions to nurture their views about themselves, says William Swann, professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin. His research shows that people with negative self-concepts goad others to evaluate them harshly, especially if they suspect the person likes them—they would rather be right than be admired.

via Metaperceptions: How Do You See Yourself? | Psychology Today

If you don’t mind, read that last sentence again for me. Does this explain assholes? I’ve been puzzling this out for years and years, and this is the best explanation I have heard. Another way to say it, without putting words in the mouth of the author, is that because people who have negative self-concepts may also value being true to themselves, “being right” and being awful is being a real person, and being admired is “selling out”. It’s a matter of pride to show resistance to mass pressure. I can understand non-assholes having a tough time understanding that someone’s idea of a better choice is to be a worser person, but that’s the topsy-turvy logic of someone who feels like their existence is not a benefit to the world, and yet still has a shred of integrity.

In order to change such a mentality, one would need to admit how wrong one got it, come back to human and face the fact that they’re not so smart after all. In effect, they’d have to take back all they’ve said and done in the name of showing their contempt for themselves and for the lack of understanding they’ve received from others. They’d have to abandon the sinister vines they’ve wholeheartedly nurtured in the garden of pride and defense.

When we talk of someone’s idea of conviction and standing their own ground, it is hard to give up and change, no matter who you are, or in which direction.

I Just Got Called Out By Someone I’ve Never Met

Shyness: a double whammy

If you are socially anxious (otherwise known as shy), you likely fret that you don’t come off well. Unfortunately, you’re probably right. Shy people convey unflattering impressions of themselves, says DePaulo. But not for the reasons they think. People don’t see them as lacking in smarts, wit or attractiveness but as haughty and detached. When you’re anxious, you fail to ask others about themselves or put them at ease in any way, which can be seen as rude and self-centered.

In a way, many shy people are self-centered, points out Bernie Carducci, psychologist at Indiana University Southeast and author of Shyness: A Bold New Approach. They imagine that everyone is watching and evaluating their every move. They think they are the center of any social interaction, and because they can’t stand that, they shut down (unlike an exhibitionist, who would relish it). Socially anxious people are so busy tracking what others think that they can’t act spontaneously. Still, many people find them endearing, precisely because they don’t hog attention.

via Metaperceptions: How Do You See Yourself? | Psychology Today

Being self-centered isn’t just for extroverts anymore. (Not trying to be snarky – the statement in the above quote is true.) Preoccupation with your reputation is grounds for elimination from further consideration of your transformation from mere vacillation to emancipation.

In other words, if people find out how selfish you are, they will no longer hope for you to be free.

The irony is that “haughty and detached” is often the last things that a shy person wants to be. But then, “self-centered” is the worst. It’s a cause for guilt, and as you might imagine, a shy person gives in to guilt like a crater gives in to a meteor. The introspective personality catches on to this dynamic quickly, but knows not what to do with the realization. The reaction is emotional. Changing emotional states is easy for few, introvert or extrovert. Thus, the introvert feels stuck.

I “don’t come off well”, as I may have already admitted. I got over not being “the center of any social interaction”, but then again, I’m in my forties. Now I’m more of a social sniper: The well-timed comment or quip goes further than the speech, has more impact, and is easily more memorable. Let the blow-hards have their way, but the cunning will seize the day.

In cyberspace, no one can hear you laugh.

via Metaperceptions: How Do You See Yourself? | Psychology Today

I really enjoyed the article linked above. Truly fascinating, and it gives anyone plenty to talk about. Print it and bust this out at your next gathering. Guaranteed to weird some people out, bum out a few more, encourage accusations. People’s heads will hurt. There’s a chance you won’t be invited back. You should definitely do this.

from the article:

“…”metaperceptions” – the ideas we have about others’ ideas about us.”

I don’t know what you’ll think of me for saying this, but my unfortunate preoccupation is in trying to figure out what others think of me. I was always an individualist, always trying to be independent of the influence of others. I end up, against my will, falling into the typical Aries hypocrite. I’m eccentric in my own special way, and fiercely proud of it. I might as well be proud of it because I’m no good at putting on an act. Besides, acting all day long, every day in real life is self-torture. If everybody would just be their own weird selves, we’d all get used to it and no one would get to call anyone else weird without in turn also being called a hypocrite.

However, I do hide quite a bit of myself. I don’t do it for a conscious reason, and I wish that I didn’t.

Try as I have, I can’t shake the worry that I’ve misrepresented myself and caused a reaction in someone else that I didn’t want or intend. I’ve always been socially awkward, so I’ve been stung by this situation many times. People treating me in a manner befitting someone else’s personality, someone I don’t recognize…it’s troubling. And you don’t always get a decent chance to remedy a false impression.

“Your ideas about what others think of you hinge on your self-concept—your own beliefs about who you are. “You filter the cues that you get from others through your self-concept,” explains Mark Leary, professor of psychology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”

This is one of the reasons why I learned to be funny in conversation: When people laugh at your witticism, they display (and announce) approval of you for having told the joke. And if they know I made it up myself, then that’s approval of me. My sense of humor is deeply personal. I get as much of a thrill out of a witty comment (pride, the good kind) as the person who laughed. I imagine some of their synapses firing, making a connection that wasn’t there before. With certain people, I imagine it as a spark in their mind, a case of me bringing light into an otherwise dark and dreary place.

Writing a blog is a different animal. If I make you laugh, I don’t get to hear it. I don’t get to see it. Unless you communicate to me in comments, I won’t know. My point is, at least at the moment it seems like I’m performing for the void, sending signals into space. I don’t know if there will be any feedback. There is no metaperception to be had. Just gotta have faith that my message in a bottle comes back with a new note inside.

In yesterday’s post, I introduced the concept of the Johari Window. This article has much to do with two panes of the window – the one known as the “Blind Spot”, and the other, (un)known as the “Unknown”. Check it out, yo!