I recently came across YouTube video by TYT (The Young Turks) about a research study on fairness and money. Actually what drew me into watching the video was the video title, “How Being Rich Can Make You A Dick”
The video is about a study conducted by the University of California Berkeley on on the advantages of having wealth. According to the study two participants were kept in a windowless room and were asked to play a game of monopoly. One of the players was given an unfair advantage during the start of the game by way of extra cash included with bonus cash for every move he made, while the other player received less money all around. During the course of the game, the researchers observed that the advantaged player displayed more aggression and arrogance during the course of the game, as compared to the other player. Looking at the TYT video, it appeared the main host Cenk, was alluding to the idea that having wealth over others makes human beings more arrogant and less empathetic towards others with less wealth. If this is what he meant, I would have to disagree with his misinterpretation, and here’s why.
The concept of fairness is so ingrained in our DNA that you see it play out in the workplace. Once at a former job, a human resources manager who got fired, sought her revenge on her last day by “mistakenly” sending out an email to all members of staff that listed our positions and our respective salaries. I became so angered when I noticed that two of my co workers were making more money than myself that I resolved to ask for a pay raise. The next day in my boss’s office, in anticipation of what my grievance was about (I am guessing) , my boss gave me a pay increase which equated to what my coworkers were making. So I believe that it is reasonable to write that given that my boss clearly valued my work, his sense of awareness informed him that I was not going to be happy with the report I received via email and he also anticipated that I would approach him for a pay increase. While I was pleasantly surprised by his response, it made a lot of sense.
Consider this scenario, let’s say I am sprinter, and I am preparing for an upcoming race, when my coach approaches me with a proposition to use steroids or some other type of growth hormone to win the race. If I accept my coach’s offer, it simply means that he does not believe I will win the race and that I agree with him. Heck it could also be presumed that my coach may not be a big believer in my abilities as a sprinter. So even if I use drugs to cheat the race and I win the race, my feelings of inadequacy wouldn’t go away.
Chances are high that due to the turmoil I will experience internally, I will act out behaviorally even after I have won the race. I may display a great deal of arrogance and immaturity, just to overcompensate for my feelings of inadequacy or feelings of being a fraud.
I do not believe that inheriting money from your family leads to feelings of inadequacy, however money that is stolen or earned through ill gotten means certainly can level leads to feelings of inadequacy. So if I were to rob a bank or a store, what I am telling myself and others through my actions is that I do not believe I have what it takes to make a honest living.
It’s like the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people,” so when you see people behaving arrogantly, they are probably coming from a place of inadequacy.
The video is below.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
Why are disappointments so difficult to bear for some people? One reason could be because some people place all their stock for being happy in one basket. Specifically in regards to setting goals and expectations for the future. I often see this with people who struggle with mild depression, and procrastination. If you ask them what they want to accomplish, they are quick to inform you about their dreams, but some where along the way they lost motivation once the going got tough. When this phenomenon occurs it is because there seems to be an expectation that happiness can only be achieved once certain desires, goals and expectations are met. For clarification, my definition of happiness in this post refers to feelings of prolonged content and acceptance , versus joy which is shorter lived.
Where does happiness begin and where does it end? If you read or listen between the lines, sometimes when people are discussing something they want to accomplish, it appears that their beliefs about happiness stem from hidden statements such as, “I can only be happy if..” or “I can only be happy when..”
Ambitions, desires, goals and accomplishments are all part of the wonderful attributes of the human experience, specifically they bring a sense of meaning and purposefulness to the experience of life. However, what happens when your narrative changes? What happens when a goal you set out to achieve with all your heart is not realized due to circumstances beyond your control?
Postponing your happiness today based your hopes and dreams for tomorrow is a recipe for a case for acute and prolonged depression. I have worked with people who were so caught off guard by a sudden and unexpected change in their fortunate situation that they spent more years depressed compared to the years when they were thriving. What If you could begin experiencing happiness today, inspite of what your current circumstances are? What would that look like?
From my perspective what happiness today would look like would be living your life from a place of gratitude. Recognizing what you have going on for you and seeing any challenge in your life as an adventure and an exciting part of your journey. So even if you are confronted with disappointment from not having realized a goal, it would be easier for you to grieve and transition with your experiences into your pursuit of another goal.
So instead of the hidden statements such as, “I can only be happy if…” or “I can only be happy when…” replace them with “I can experience happiness regardless of my circumstances.” This type of thinking leads you towards regarding your goals and ambitions with a different attitude. An attitude that leads you towards focusing on the process, rather than the outcome.
So when the going gets tough, you can always draw energy from your feelings of consent and happiness, because you understand that challenges are a natural and occurring phenomenon in our lives.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
Periodically I come across videos online with young people acting out humorous skits about humiliating experiences. In some cases it is easy to tell that these skits are based on the personal experiences of the main actor or actress while in other cases they are clearly making fun of other peoples’ misfortune.
I am going to focus on skits based on personal experiences, needless to write, making an online video to mock the misfortune of others is not okay.
If I were to meet some of the producers of the videos based on their own humiliating experience, I would like to ask them,
“Prior to making your video, did you heal from the experience?” “Did you learn the lesson you needed to learn from the experience?”
To the young girl who made the skit about how her boyfriend kept their serious relationship a secret from his family and friends and was hesitant to bring her around his family during the holidays, I wonder if she is still in that relationship? If she still is, I wonder why? Does she not consider herself worthwhile to be introduced to her boyfriend’s family and received warmly by them?
If she were a relative, I would suggest to her that perhaps she is the only one between the two, who thinks it’s a serious relationship.
To my Nigerian brethren who made the video about how Nigerian parents are notorious for beating their children who behave in non African traditional ways – that’s not funny. Yes, I know, most people think it’s funny, but it’s really not. If you disagree with me, simply insert yourself into the shoes of the two main characters.
There is nothing more damaging to the self esteem of a teenage young man, who has put in a lot of work into toasting and inviting a female friend over to his home. Only to be walked in on by his father and beaten in front of her. Furthermore, beating a confused girl who has decided to strip before a camera only worsens her damaged identity.
“But I no dey vex for una,” your other videos are funny expect this one.
We have to be honest with ourselves, because lies only help us in soothing our feelings. That way we can pretend not to be bothered by events we have experienced. Events while unfortunate, provide a sliver lining for us to achieve significant growth via painful feelings.
This attitude of pretending not to be bothered by humiliating experiences, is like convincing yourself you have the ability to dodge bullets and fly like a character in a Hollywood blockbuster. However we are all vulnerable, and recognition and acceptance of our vulnerabilities gives us needed courage in accepting life on life’s terms.
If you have been humiliated or shamed, call it for what it is, because pretending not to be bothered only sets you up to experience a repeat. When we are able to admit experiences that wound our egos, we set ourselves up for proper healing.
By healing I mean being able to acknowledge the source of the wounding, and learning the lesson you need to learn.
What are some healthy and unhealthy methods you have used to respond to feeling humiliated?
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
A college student I worked with was experiencing difficulty in school, in regards to completing and turning in her class assignments. One day she mentioned to me that perhaps she suffered from attention deficit disorder . I responded by reminding her about how we had rescheduled our agreed upon appointment two weeks prior because she had to take an examination, which was three hours long. I further reminded her that during our most recent meeting, she had informed me that she had passed the examination.
“People with attention deficit disorder struggle to pull that off,” I added. As it turns out, her lack of motivation was caused by her not knowing what she wanted to study and that she was only pursuing the major of study she was enrolled in to impress her parents. This revelation came out after she came to realize that she was able to concentrate for hours at at time as evidenced by how well she had done on the three hour exam. The difference was that over the years she hadn’t been doing it on her own terms.
From time to time, I encounter people who become upset with me because I tell them they can get better, when they believe they can not. There is another story of a client who used the analogy of a blind man, he informed me that telling him that he could get past his depression was like telling a blind man that he could see again. I then informed him that while blind people certainly couldn’t see, they could still get around and function on par with their sighted fellow humans.
The human mind is neuroplastic, it has a remarkable ability of reorganizing itself to help us address our everyday issues in life and thrive, regardless of the trauma experienced and survived. What remains is for us to believe in our ability to adapt and change.
Consider this study, involving hospitalized depressed men for the effectiveness of fluoxetine in treating depression. The men were divided into two groups, one group which received the actual treatment and the second group which received a placebo treatment. Both groups showed dramatic and significant improvement in their depressive symptoms, as evidenced by self reports and scanned images of changes in their brains’ glucose metabolism using positron emission tomography (PET). This is one of many studies that shows that power of simply believing, through the effects of placebo.
The truth is that we are able to accomplish any feat we set our minds unto. So if you are experiencing difficulty in consistently accomplishing a task, or following through with agreed upon expectations, perhaps it has nothing to do with your ability but your willingness, influenced by other factors.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
In a previous post, I wrote about using what if scenarios to transition from negative thinking to positive thinking.
However, what if transitioning to a positive thought process is not enough. What if the identified positive thought is intellectually sound, but still emotionally unbelievable?
In this video post, I discuss taking the what if scenario to another level by performing brief behavioral experiments which force you into making a paradigm shift in your thought processes for the better.