It’s ok, you think the same about me.
It’s this cognitive bias called illusory superiority. The page has a whole list, but I am focusing on this one. It basically means that most everyone believes they are above average when it comes to the possession of positive traits. Another way to put this is that the average person believes they are above average.
This is just statistically impossible.
I used to be (read: I still am) bad about that. Though, I suppose you can’t really blame people for that. We, as people, believe we are right in every aspect of our lives. I mean, if you didn’t think you were right, you’d change your opinion to one you thought was. A personal example:
I am totally against the death penalty. Thus, I believe I am morally superior to people who do believe in the death penalty*. It would be kind of hard for me to feel otherwise, wouldn’t it?
Nowadays, I consciously try to not feel superior to others. The event that sparked this change in me was at the bookstore I worked at. I was talking to a customer. To this customer I was just a twentysomething bookstore employee. He could know nothing about me other than what he could see at face value. To him, I was just some young black male who had messy hair, a big beard, and a minimum wage job.
I don’t remember what our conversation was about exactly,** but I remember his condescending tone. It hurt. When I realized he was talking down to me, I looked at him very seriously and said something along the lines of, “Your assessment of who I am is erroneous, sir. I will return to my previous activity because you have thoroughly offended me. Thank you.” Be aware, that at some point I stopped listening to him. Mostly, for the main purpose of preparing that sentence and its fluent delivery.
As I returned to my previous activity, I realized I did this to others. I was a hypocrite. At that moment, I decided to try my best to stop seeing myself as any different. Not special. Just me. My relationships with people began to improve almost immediately! Why? Because when you see people as no different than you, you tend to love them easier. You tend to be a little more sympathetic. You forgive their ignorant (in your opinion) statements, because you remember that you’ve said quite a few yourself.
I’m not saying to belittle yourself. I don’t mean to think, “I am lesser than” all of the time. The equation “Me < You" is no better than the inverse. The correct formula is Me = You. I think there are times when one has to make assertions, but during basic day to day interactions this is best.
When you start seeing yourself as equal, you truly begin to listen. When people talk, you are no longer trying to mold them. You learn from them. You agree more. You feel more positive. It's quite freeing to be equal.
Anyway, what's your opinion? I mean, you're probably smarter than me anyway. At least you probably think you are. Ha!
– Brandon Holly –
*At least in that regard, mind you.
**I'm sure it had something to do with literature.
p.s. – I love this band and that makes me better than you. Hahaha! It’s off topic, but I can’t get this song out of my head.