A while back I wrote a major post called The Theaters of Operation. And this week I did some major revisions of that post, where I added new ideas and expanded on concepts. If you’ve never read that post, I highly suggest you do so, as this post builds on many of the concepts in it.
One of the ideas I added were The Laws of Ego-Driven Superiority, which are as follows:
- Ego-driven superiority is more concerned about appearing superior than actually being superior. Someone who subscribed to ego-driven superiority would rather have all the impressive trappings of success with little money in the bank and no retirement plan than to be very financially comfortable but without having the trappings of success with which he can show off to others.If he’s in the gym, he’d rather look super buff and ripped and toned but not be strong, athletic or coordinated, than be explosively strong, coordinated and athletic yet have a less impressive set of abs.
- Ego-driven superiority specifically wants to be better than other people, rather than pursue excellence and greatness for their own sake. There are many ways to be better than other people. One is by beating them in direct competition. Another way is by having a holier-than-thou attitude. Another way is by being condescending. Another is by being outraged and angry at others (to be angry at someone else is a form of self-righteousness, and the right to be angry at another person implies a superiority to that person).Making people apologize to you, and dragging out the forgiveness process is yet another (being in the position to forgive someone who is apologizing is a position of superiority. That’s why you should never trust hypersensitive people who constantly get offended and put you in a position of constantly apologizing in order to keep the peace. Such people are chasing ego-driven superiority). People who like to play “let’s you and him fight” by playing jealousy games and making people fight over them, by becoming the object of competition, feel superficially superior to the people fighting over them.
- Ego-driven superiority not only wants everyone else to be inferior, but wants to make sure they remain inferior, and will do whatever it takes to keep them from improving themselves significantly.The person who believes in ego-driven superiority views everything as zero-sum. To acknowledge any one of his peers as worthy, in his mind, somehow diminishes his own worth. That’s why he has so much malignant envy when he sees the accomplishments and material goods of others, and why he always has to find a way to disparage others’ accomplishments (dumb luck, rich parents, nepotism, etc.). In his mind, anyone else gaining value automatically signifies a loss in status for him.
This will show even when he’s being generous. For example, he’s the type who will love to make a show of giving a hungry man a fish, because it makes the hungry man dependent on him and it enhances his own image in the eyes of others, both of which fuel his ego, and it also it displays his superiority, because he’s providing something the hungry man can’t provide himself.
But he will never teach the hungry man to fish for himself, because then the hungry man won’t need him anymore and the hungry man’s new self-sufficiency will threaten his sense of superiority, because now the hungry man has the same skill as the ego-driven man, which makes the ego-driven man’s skills less unique and therefore less superior.
When someone does what seems to be good deeds on the surface, but they make a big deal in trumpeting their altruism, and are more into fostering dependency rather than giving you the tools to do the same deeds for yourself, their altruism is really disguised ego-driven superiority.
- Ego-driven superiority not only needs to be better than other people, it needs the world to know about the superiority and acknowledge it. If the ego-driven person is superior to you, but you aren’t aware of it and refuse to acknowledge it, they will put an incredible amount of energy into convincing you of said superiority, using everything from emotional outbursts to statistics and data tables to cold, hard logic to brutally honest criticism to ostentatious shows of wealth. Whatever it takes. The possibilities are endless. The sense of superiority is worthless if not acknowledged by others.
- Ego-driven superiority not only needs the world to know about the superiority and acknowledge it, but it also needs people to be envious. If you know and acknowledge the ego-driven person’s superiority in any given area, and you just don’t care and are not the least bit jealous, it will drive the ego-driven person crazy. In fact, he may accuse you of lying or being in denial. They may even go overboard in trying to make you jealous.
- Ego-driven superiority wants to convert you and make you a follower, but never an equal. An ego-driven man, if he can accomplish the goals of the first 5 laws, will be pretty satisfied: He is, or at least appears, better than you. Everyone openly acknowledges or at least is quietly aware his superiority, including you. He’s inspired envy in you to boot. But despite all this, he may not accomplish the 6th law, which is to convert you to his worldview and inspire you to become a follower and worship at his cult of personality. That is the icing on the cake.
It’s important to note, you don’t have to satisfy all of these laws to be guilty of being immersed in the quest for ego-driven superiority. Following even one of these laws is enough. However, the more of these laws you’re guilty of, the more immersed in ego hell you are. The most neurotic and personality-disordered among us are usually follow five laws or even all six.
The Laws of Enlightened Superiority, because of the addition of social interest, are the exact opposite of the previous set of laws:
- Enlightened superiority is more concerned with actually being the best it can be than simply appearing superior.
- Enlightened superiority is more concerned with pursuing greatness for its own sake rather than pursuing greatness primarily to ensure others are inferior.
- Enlightened superiority doesn’t mind sharing the tools of superiority with others and giving them the means to improve themselves in similar ways.
- Enlightened superiority doesn’t mind having others know about and acknowledge the superiority, but is perfectly fine if such acknowledgment is never received. Such people generate their own validation internally rather than relying on external validation for their self-esteem.
- Enlightened superiority has no desire to inspire envy and jealousy in others.
- Enlightened superiority, even if it converts you and makes you a follower, ultimately aims to help you become your own guru in time, and is secure enough to even encourages you to someday surpass the master.
The personally sane but socially insane shortsighted actions that lack social interest are SECOND ORDER OPERATIONS and are part of THE SECONDARY THEATER OF OPERATIONS. Common sense actions that yield long-term benefits and incorporate social interest are FIRST ORDER OPERATIONS and are part of the PRIMARY THEATER OF OPERATIONS. The Primary Theater of Operations is where psychologically healthy people who pursue enlightened superiority live, work and play. The Secondary Theater of Operations is where neurotic people who pursue ego-driven superiority live, work and play.
The main difference between ego-driven superiority and enlightened superiority is social interest. However, the most dangerous form of ego-driven superiority is collective ego-driven superiority. Tomorrow we’ll discuss the differences between individual ego-driven superiority, collective ego-driven superiority and collective enlightened superiority.