UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF SOCIAL STATUS
FOR SOME, ANOTHER "NOT BEING ENOUGH" PROBLEM, A FEAR
Fear of not having enough social status is a major cause of stress and a great consumer of energy and time...needlessly and fruitlessly.
MOSTLY FAUX, UNJUSTIFIED FEAR
Most of it is a "faux" fear, with no actual substance to it, only existing in the imagination as a "mental construct" - a representation that is strictly made up and has no actual impact on life - except for making us miserable, when it need not be so.
If someone who is not close to us and whom we not not depend on thinks poorly of us, will it impact our ability to survive at all - won't we still be able to go to the grocery store and partake of all the benefits of a supporting large tribe, even if they don't like us?
Much of it is of such little consequence that it is surely not worth our attention, much less our concern, especially since we can use our attention elsewhere to actually obtain something of real value.
Yet we become the prisoners of it, instead off the masters of it.
FIND OUT WHERE THE VALUE IS?
As masters of it we would apply what effort toward it that was appropriate and effective to the size of the payoff - and not apply any effort to what has no real (or not a big enough) payoff to it.
We need to decide, to discriminate, to differentiate: What has a sufficient payoff and what doesn't?
A failure to discriminate, a failure to think, a failure to use our higher brains...and we are left with a failure to fully live our lives, where we are living small, often cowering, depending on approval and others giving us the stamp of okness...
WHY DO WE FEAR IT?
Why do we fear lack of social status, lack of approval?
Because we fear we will actually lose something, of course.
But we've made it into such a blurry generality that even "non-losses", where we have only an imagined loss, are feared. What we are looking for is a "secure" place within the "tribe" that is actually what will affect our survival.
A LIFE DIRECTED BY OTHERS?
Yet we also must make a tradeoff between
1. Losing the value of going after what we want and
2. Being driven by what others want because of our seeming dependence on them...
Often, however, we lose the agenda of what we truly want in life to the agenda that others set for us (where we become the victims and prisoners of others' priorities).
And 95+ % of pleasing others and "looking good" is spent in meaningless submission to people's demands that have little or no true importance of consequence to us. It is far, far wiser to simply avoid and not allow such impositions by others in their quest for what serves them, believing, falsely, that we are dependent upon them - for we are not!
A LIFE LOST
If we fail to differentiate among relationships and to hold all as something we must keep up with, we are trying to do the impossible - and we will be overwhelmed, trying to shove too much in a limited size pipeline (which all humans have).
Cramming all that in leaves little room, if any, for important things of true value.
You must, absolutely must, let go of 90+% of all your "relationships" and just get down to the important ones!
DECIDING THE RELATIVE VALUE
In terms of Life Value Productivity, we would do such exercises as deciding the value of impressing someone, on, let's say, a scale of 1 to 100, as the highest: 30 Lifelong, loyal friend 25 A supportive, uplifing person
Insert your own
3 A fellow board member (we greatly overestimate the value of their opinions
and can become dependent weaklings as a result...)
0 Know of, a little -20 A weak, discouraging person
-50 A negative critical person
The value of these will vary depending upon your knowing that you are doing that which is appropriately good and productive enough such that you know that all that is left to chance is someone's misperception and/or false judging of you - and when people do that, you'd learn quickly to no longer be in their presence and to no longer placate them or be obsequious to them.
Basically, you would drop (and/or reduce) about 95% of your "relationships" - and concentrate your energies toward the few higher payoff people and activities!!!!!!
Do your own list, but with specific names and then concentrate only on the high payoff ones, as being a true master of life would have you knowing of so many high payoff activities that you would even push aside some medium payoff activities because they give you less total value for your time!
While you would not be rude or unkind to those people who deliver no value to you, you would quickly disappear from their presence and avoid being in their presence if possible.
Note that if you are confident of your ability to be able to produce what you want in life, the power you give away to strangers dissipates strongly, for you are no longer taking the stance that you are dependent on them for a good survival. You will be freeing yourself from your self-created Box Prison.
AN EVOLUTIONARY IMPERATIVE
Indeed, we did evolve to survive and procreate. If we are stronger, it helped us survive to pass our genes on. If we were admired for our strength, there were more opportunities created to procreate, which of course helped pass on our genes.
The poor fellow who was of low status had difficulty hooking up to pass his genes on. Since he had evolved to have the urge to procreate, his prmitive brain said "uh, oh, we've got a procreation/survivalofgenes problem here, I better give this guy a jolt of uncomfortable chemicals to motivate him to gain a higher status or to figure out how to procreate.
Is it built into us to seek social status (or "stature"0?
Anyway, we evolved to procreate and to be able to stay with the tribe for our protection. Our "patterns" in terms of hardwiring have not evolved beyond this (they haven't had enough decamilleniums to do so).
SOLVING THE PROBLEM; QUESTIONING THE ASSUMPTIONS
But our higher brains can solve the problem.
A problem is defined as a gap to be closed between where we are and where we want to be. If we believe we are miserable because we are short of where we want to be, then it is made into a huge problem, though in reality it may not be.
However, a creative approach might cause us to "go outside of the box" and question some things that people consider givens. Any effective thinking program questions the facts and tries to determine what the facts actually are and then applies logic to figure out what will solve the "gap" problem.
Us humans are notorious for misestimating the future consequences (except we're pretty good in a very short time frame, such as I'll feel better if I eat that Twinkie). We misestimate what will make us happy - badly misestimate it! (See Happiness Creators and link into the Unhappiness Creators.)
The question: do we really need to be approved of by other people in general? Does it help us, other than perhaps ego wise?
Who do we need to be of "good enough" status with?
Only those people who can impact our actual life situation, such as a spouse or a boss, or even a coworker.
If people at the PTA don't like us, that is a true "so what!? It doesn't affect me. I'd prefer, perhaps, that they liked me, but it is not a need."
Do I need to be seen as "super strong" or perfect or some ideal way?
Probably not. Just enough to not negatively affect my job.
And how can I assure that I can safely assure that people will respect me enough to have my needs not be threatened? While this is something I want to do, I need not be obsessed or threatened by it, but some concern is appropriate - but it is not something I should experience stress about.
If I follow my clear commitment to what is crucial in my behaviors, I will be just fine.
If I work conscientiously, am friendly (though I don't have to be impressive), make sure I am sufficiently trained and more than sufficiently skilled, then I will have no problem. That is what I will focus my attention and efforts on. I need not make any false impressions or shield myself with a mask. I can be at zero stress. And probably it would be best if I am on the safe side on the skills by being safely skilled beyond "just enough".
In fact, I will learn to the point of "sufficient knowing" to be able behave in an appropriate way and to be friendly enough, and I'll maybe not be superpopular or anything, but I'll have a few friends - and I don't need many, not really, not for my real needs. People set unrealistic expectations about how good they have to be to have friends and on how many friends they need. Bringing down the expectations line to what is attainable and also realistic will, of course, bring down the gap. (This is part of the process described in The Unhappiness Gap.)
We foolishly spend so much nervous energy and regular energy on impressing others with our social status (coolness, ability, strength, smartness, etc.) and we fail to realize that we could spend that same energy on somethng that will have many happiness benfits - and avoid all the stress that in turn harms us in many ways!
AND IF YOU CANNOT LOWER AND SOLVE THE GAP ENOUGH
If you still need social status, then you can identify what will give you more and what you have to do to get that. Dress better? Nicer car? Make more confident gestures? Cooler haircut? Brilliant chatter (study conversational skills)?
All of those are viable alternatives and very learnable. And once you've locked them in, you can be confident that you are at a "good enough" social level to never have to give it a lot of concern and no anxiety!