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Greed Is Something We Should All Strive For

Greed Is Something We Should All Strive For

Most of us don’t want to be called “greedy.” Nobody wants to be the person who fills his plate and leaves others hungry or the person who waits for relatives to drop dead so he can get an inheritance. Greed reveals a darker side of human nature.

There are 2 sides to every coin, though. Could there be a positive side to being selfish?

Greed exists for a reason

When someone is uncomfortable with personal security, their anxiety may manifest as greed. This anxiety may stem from trauma or neglect. For example, a person who grows up not having enough to eat may hoard food and overindulge in adulthood.

In addition to anxiety, many greedy people have self-esteem issues. A child who doesn’t get enough attention grows into the adult that must be in the limelight. People who are insecure about their purpose in life sometimes tie their self-worth to having an abundance of items. Stuff is no substitute for being loved, but the person may feel a temporary sense of comfort from material possessions.[1]

With all the negativity in the news, people feel threatened more than ever. You may have noticed an uptick in greedy behaviors as we all grapple with uncertain times.

We can understand why someone behaves this way, but it doesn’t make us like greedy people more. Even if you know why your friend always takes too many slices of pizza, you’ll still be hungry.

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Taking too much harms others

Taking more than you need might not sound bad, but greed ca be negative for others. Look at what happens when the weather service forecasts a major storm. People panic, and instead of buying what they need, they clear the store shelves. The people who arrive late aren’t able to buy anything because there’s nothing left. Greed may be great for the economy, but it doesn’t do much for the human beings on the losing end.

Broadly speaking, when people fixate on hoarding objects or satisfying a desire for more stuff, they miss out on the richness of life. The person will almost never be satisfied, and after they get what they want, they’ll be on the prowl for the next big thing.

Many people realize they’re being greedy and hide who they are. A person who craves having power may become a politician. To do this, he may have to deceive others and craft a persona that will afford him what he wants. He may say–and even believe–that he wants to help others. He may champion the underdog and speak out against the power-hungry even as he lusts for power himself.

Greed doesn’t have to be terrible

Greed can serve a positive purpose in some contexts. One positive is that it’s a form of motivation. Greed inspires people to push for better social and economic outcomes than they have.

Altruism is a better force for creating positive change, but it takes time to develop it. Greed readily dovetails with consumerism. Our society is built on and supported by greedy behavior, whether or not we like it. The quest for more and better stuff has driven societies to the highest levels of achievement.

Societies that try to function without greed and hierarchy dissolve into chaos. Having a hierarchy naturally causes inequality, but people with more power often take actions that improve our lives.[2]

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Over two centuries ago, Adam Smith, economist and philosopher, explained that individuals who acted out of self-interest would be supported by the economy and make society better. The greed behind capitalism may seem unattractive, but the results are often desirable.[3]

We saw examples of this prosperity in the US in the 1980s and 1990s on Wall Street. Productivity was high and unemployment rates were low. The stock market made many investors wealthy.

When the dotcom bubble burst and the value of shares dropped, people realized that greed has its limitations. In 1999, American households had a net worth-to- income ratio of 6.3. It has since fallen to 5.3. Even though we’re still doing better than our long term average, we’ve seen a decrease in quality of life across a large portion of the middle class.

Optimistic investors feel that this is part of the natural ebb and flow of the market, but perhaps this downturn was a warning about going for things well outside of our means.

Can it really be bad for us to recognize our limits and live in accordance with needs instead of wants?

Use greed to your advantage

1. Recognize the root of your greed.

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Greed may be a sign that you have some insecurities to work through.

Someone who constantly has to shop may be trying to fill an emotional void or insecurity with stuff. If you find yourself loading your shopping bags every week, think about why you’re doing it. You may even need to seek professional help to deal with these issues.

2. Use greed to drive change.

Greed motivates you to climb the socio-economic ladder.

The unhappy person can change their life. If you’re unsatisfied with your quality of life, your desire to accumulate things could be a sign to get a better job or capitalize on an idea.

3. Sharing is caring.

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If your desire for more things ends up making you wealthy and successful, use your power to look out for others.

When you’re top dog, you have a great opportunity to give back. Look at the philanthropic work people such as Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey do because they have the means.

Following these steps gives you a chance to reflect on yourself and affords you a opportunity to make the world better.

Flip the notion of greed on its head

Most of us possess a basic drive to want things that we don’t have. Instead of viewing this as a negative mindset, see it as an opportunity to improve your life and the lives of others.

Featured photo credit: The Digital Artist via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Is greed good?
[2] Time: Greed is Good: Science Proves It
[3] The Economist: Is Greed Good?

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Change Your Self-Perception and Untap Your Hidden Potential

How to Change Your Self-Perception and Untap Your Hidden Potential

If your current self-perception is not serving you in ways that allow you to be your best self and achieve the goals you’re aiming for, it’s time to transform it into a force for good using personality and social psychology.

Those harsh evaluations from your inner critic speaking sourly of unworthiness have had enough airplay. You no longer want to allow features of imposter syndrome to immobilize you nor deflate any balloon of excitement and hope you had toward achieving your goals.

Your self-perception is about the relationship you have with yourself. The great news is that because you hold this self-perception, you are the best and most powerful agent capable of transforming it.

Here are 7 tips on how to change your self-perception and unleash your potential.

1. Learn to Detach From Others’ Projections

Simply cutting ties with anyone who drops negative criticism that leaves you feeling you are a lesser human being would lead to an incredibly lonely existence. What can better serve you is recognizing when someone might actually be projecting their self-image upon you.

Projections are often an unconscious way we defend ourselves to feel better emotionally and mentally about those aspects of ourselves we consider to be flawed[1]. We attribute the things we don’t like about ourselves to someone else because the pain and discomfort of confessing our own inadequacies are just too great.

Think of the friend at dinner who dominates the conversation and commonly speaks over others yet tells you you’re rude when you interrupt them. Think of the associate who claims to be a perfectionist and always struggles to meet deadlines but says your work will never be as good because you prioritize meeting targets over doing better quality work.

When you are on the receiving end of sharp, unsavory criticism, there’s a high chance that another person may be projecting. They are unwittingly showing you how they see the world.

However, this does not mean their assertions are true or valid. If anything, it’s simply a matter of opinion.

2. Recognize How Others Have Shaped Your Self-Perception

During her earlier research, Carol Dweck discovered children’s motivation and performance was highly influenced by how parents and authority figures encouraged them.

Her research offers guidance that could also influence a child’s esteem, self-efficacy, and self-perception as they grow through adolescence and into adulthood[2].

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  • Teach children how their effort can influence outcomes and their performance as opposed to labeling them according to the results they might achieve (i.e. a good artist, a genius, gifted).
  • As opposed to telling children they were good or bad, loved or not loved depending upon their behavior and results of performance, praise their efforts despite the results.
  • Make space for children’s positive and negative emotions as opposed to only being loving, affectionate, and supportive when they are well-behaved or performing to a certain level.

Dweck’s research has shone a light on likely sources of many imprisoning self-perceptions we develop as adults. As adults, we can see how and why we came to think about ourselves in the ways we do[3].

Change your self-perception with a growth mindset.

    Now, this is not a green light to unleash all blame on your parents and teachers but rather to recognize that you might be carrying the full weight of unhelpful self-perceptions you aren’t fully accounted for. You can also recognize and choose to do something about those self-perceptions that don’t benefit you.

    Ask yourself:

    “Does how I see myself make me feel better or worse about myself?”

    “Does how I see myself create obstacles between where I am, what I am feeling, where I want to be, and how I want to feel?”

    Continue to practice your awareness of how you see yourself in the present, consider how this impacts you, and start exploring how to put yourself in the greatest position of power to change this.

    3. Learn How Even Negative Self-Perceptions Serve a Purpose

    World-renowned psychotherapist Richard Schwartz coined an incredible therapeutic framework called Internal Family Systems through hearing how clients would talk about inner “parts” of themselves[4].

    Similar to how different members of our families have different roles by birthright, different personality traits, and characteristics, Schwartz proposes that we all have an internal system consisting of sub-personas or “parts” within our psyche that help form our self-perception.

    Have you ever thought that you should decide one way but another voice inside you said to do the opposite? If so, this framework can help you not only tame the unhelpful voices and self-perceptions but also discover others that can help you untap your hidden potential.

    Schwartz coined three main types of sub-personas:

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    • Exiles are those who often hold the emotional pain from abandonment, rejection, being exploited, and negatively judged by other individuals or other parts within our internal system.
    • Managers are those who are directive and controlling to avoid situations and interactions which might further hurt the exile part/s. These parts of us are often highly intellectual and good at problem-solving but push emotions away.
    • Firefighters are those parts of us that spring into action in emergencies when we’re caught off guard. When the exile parts of us have been triggered, these firefighting parts can jump into soothing and placate their emotional expression. Emotional eating or splurging our savings on clothes to make ourselves feel better are examples of ways we look to put out the emotional fire that is blazing.

    Regardless of the different characteristics of these parts we have within us, they all serve a primary purpose but in different ways: to protect us and keep us safe.

    When we learn to see how and why they do this, we dissolve our need to fight our self-perceptions.

    We no longer have to fight against the negative voices in our heads. We can now guide and use them to our advantage to help us get to where we now want to go.

    4. Reframe Your Language to Practice Healthy Detachment

    You don’t need to undergo intensive therapy to benefit from some simple language reframing techniques. When you change a few words in your self-labeling narrative, you can drastically change the impact that narrative can have on you.

    When you look at the following four sentences, you have a sense of which one feels the most self-deprecating and which one feels the least:

    • “No one loves me. I’m simply not attractive.”
    • “Right now, I feel that no one loves me. At the moment, I don’t feel attractive.”

    Which statement feels the heaviest? Did you notice the changes in the sentences?

    Self-perceptions we make tend to be purely black and white. We also tend to inaccurately and blanketly apply them to cover all contexts and situations, particularly when our emotions are the most intense.

    Reframing your self-narrative is easier than trying to eliminate it in one fell swoop. Recognize that your self-perception is but a reflection of transient feelings you are feeling at particular moments in time, and you’ll become better at preserving your self-worth.

    5. Forget Positive Affirmations and Practice Truthful Self-Perceptions

    As a coach and a consultant, I have often had clients come to me wanting to instantly silence any negative self-talk they express toward themselves. It is true our subconscious develops healthier inner dialogue over time with the regular and frequent practice of feeding it better mental nutrition. However, no amount of positive self-talk can transform negative self-perceptions if we don’t believe they could be true.

    If you have a poor body image, you can tell yourself until you’re blue in the face that you have nothing to be concerned about when you look in the mirror. You’re still going to be free from the mental and emotional shackles that such self-perception holds.

    You’ll be pleased to know the answer isn’t in endless journaling or writing out positive affirmations hundreds of times a day. There’s a faster and more effective way!

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    Develop phrases which you actually believe that guide you to look in the direction of how you want to see yourself:

    I’m working towards improving how I see and/or feel about myself.”

    “I’m learning and practicing how to adjust this aspect of myself so it better serves me.”

    Notice how there is no mention of looking to improve or delete an aspect of your personality in either of these statements?

    Your subconscious will be more on board with you using the phraseology above because you’re emotionally more receptive to it. It feels safe, honest, and true.

    Practice more language and phrases like these above and you will grow incredible self-perception that will take you beyond what you originally felt you were worthy of aiming for.

    6. Combine a Growth Mindset and Imagery to Untap Your Potential

    The use of imagery is an incredibly powerful mental tool to help you develop more helpful self-perceptions that will serve you in moving toward your initial goals. Combine this with simple growth mindset questions, and you’ll be well on your way to unleashing your potential.

    Using an example, let’s say you don’t feel you don’t have what it takes to apply for a certain job.

    The first part of the exercise is to playfully develop the growth and expansive mindset questions and entertain the answers to them:

    1. What if I did have enough skill, expertise, knowledge, and confidence?
    2. How would I approach applying for the job?
    3. How would I be feeling as I applied for the job?
    4. How would I feel upon submitting my application or getting an interview?

    The second part now is to bring those potential answers to life. Breathe life into a mini-movie scene of these possibilities you create in your imagination. Imagine the environment you surround yourself in as you prepare your job application.

    When you engage your five physical senses during imagery, you can ignite physical and emotional responses that signal to your brain what you are focusing on is important. The more you practice the imagery in which you paint a healthier and helpful self-perception, the more your reticular activating system[5] will look for opportunities for this to come to fruition in reality.

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    You can learn more visualization techniques in this article.

    7. Deliberately Practice Healthier Self-Perceptions

    Our hidden potential remains untapped when we aren’t moving toward clearly defined goals.

    From recognizing our unhelpful self-perception, we can start to shape those which aren’t just healthier for us but also strategically helpful for us in moving toward what we want to experience, do, and have.

    When you next look at a particular goal, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. What qualities do I already have that could and would help to meet that goal?
    2. What do I already know that could help me meet this goal?
    3. How can I position myself to gain the skills and knowledge that would help me achieve this goal?
    4. What choice/s along the way would give me opportunities to experience satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment in ways that matter to me?
    5. Even if I don’t meet this goal, will I still feel good about myself throughout the efforts I make to do so?

    These questions are not only strengths-based. They also guide you to make choices and create opportunities that help you feel higher and healthier levels of fulfillment.

    Meeting the goal may or may not happen. Regardless, your self-perception is sure to undergo powerful, positive transformations on many levels.

    Final Thoughts

    These 7 tips will help you realize your potential and change your self-perception positively.

    Through learning how to practice acceptance and compassion toward yourself and how to have a better relationship with yourself, you can develop self-concepts that help you untap your hidden potential.

    You’ll be radiating a healthy glow that’s almost palpable with a powerful sense of self that will take you wherever you want to go!

    More Tips on Improving Your Self-Perception

    Featured photo credit: Vince Fleming via unsplash.com

    Reference

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