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The Price of Success You Probably Aren’t Aware Of (Hint: Relationships)

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The Price of Success You Probably Aren’t Aware Of (Hint: Relationships)

Everyone wants success. Obvious, right? But do most of us know that success has a price? Definitely not.

This is not about paying our way to success through means of efforts, plans, etc. It’s about the other side of success — the dark side experienced by most high achievers.

When we achieve something in life, we will build the belief that we are more successful than others. As we collect more and more successes, our strong self-confidence will seep into our egos and a dangerous problem will crop up — we’ll have an All-or-Nothing thinking.

In this article, we’ll explore the All-or-Nothing thinking caused by our successes, its negative effects towards our relationships with others, and how to avoid paying the full price to the cashier of the Success Restaurant so we can save our money…and the bonds we created with those who are important to us.

All-or-Nothing: I Hate You Very Much, I Like You Very Much

The All-or-Nothing thinking is related to how we perceive others. Imagine that we once had a friend and from our 10 years of befriending him, we didn’t spot any flaws in his characters and behaviours. One day, we found out that he made a mistake and because of that, we stopped being friends with him.

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That’s the All-or-Nothing thinking.

The All-or-Nothing thinking is also described by psychologist as “splitting” in which we split people into really good or really bad people. In the mind of an All-or-Nothing thinker, there’s no such thing as a person being in-between as in having both positive and negative qualities.

The Effect of Discounting the In-Betweens in Our Life

All humans are in-betweens. Yet, it’s easy to trick ourself into believing that we are on the high social strata after we collected substantial amount of shiny trophies and great successes. It’s human to sometimes have an inflated ego but when it affects our perception of others, then beware — we’ve paid too much.

Discounting the in-betweens means that we will stop interacting with most people and become too judgmental; we’ll also be inclined to say bad things to others, not giving thought to other people’s opinions and ideas, and being too picky about who’s allowed in our social circles.

These adverse effects can be detrimental to our life because having little interaction means that we will be less exposed to new opportunities, ideas, thoughts, and opinions which are needed to grow a balanced and healthy mind. To stop paying the full price of success, there are three things we can do — becoming more self-aware, focusing on growing with a purpose, and teach others what we know.

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Three Things We Can Do to Avoid the All-or-Nothing Thinking:

1. Develop greater self-awareness

Having good self-awareness can help us to spot whenever the All-or-Nothing thought patterns arise. To develop self-awareness, we need to learn how to evaluate our thoughts especially when we find ourself trying to judge others. The moment we spot the All-or-Nothing thought patterns, we need to immediately tell ourself to stop believing it and reframe the thought.

An example: We met someone who looked messy and our initial thought was “I can’t talk to this guy. He’s too much of a mess.” A possible reframe would be “Not dressing well doesn’t mean that he’s a mess. He might be smarter than me” or “Einstein’s hair was a mess but he had one of the greatest minds in history”

By practicing this whenever we are in conversation with others, we’ll find it easier to see others in a better light.

You can learn more about improving your self-awareness by reading this article by Ciara Conlon.

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2. Grow yourself but add purpose into the mix

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of cancer cells”

Edward Abbey

Self-improvement is important. The problem with the society today is the search for rapid growth but without any purpose. Yeah, sometimes the purpose is told to us by so-and-so, but is it really a purpose? If it is, it’s a purpose that is probably hiding under another purpose — growth.

When we were little and growing up, we needed our parents to guide us. The same goes with any other growth. We need something to guide our growth, and that something is purpose.

Before seeking to grow or change our life, we need to find our purpose in life. Having a purpose means that we don’t depend on other people to define the way we want to grow. Our growth will revolve around the purpose we chose thus it would be meaningful to us and meaningful to others too.

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Lianna Martha Laroya wrote an interesting article on how to find our purpose in her Lifehack article “5 Steps to Find out Your Life Purpose”. You can read it here.

3. Teach what we know

Teaching can help us to be more generous on sharing our knowledge.

But there’s one thing about teaching that can bust our ego, and it’s the capability to elevate people’s status. When we teach others, we are extending our hand to pull others up to our level.

By continuing to teach others, we will change our mindset from thinking of ourself as being on a higher level to thinking of ourself as someone responsible to help others to be on the same level as us.

Conclusion

The price of success is the negative effects it can have towards our relationship. As explained above, we can avoid paying the full price by doing three things:

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  1. Develop self-awareness by questioning our thoughts consistently
  2. Grow deliberately by finding our purpose of life before trying to improve ourself
  3. Teach others to help them improve themselves to the point where they are on our level

Lastly, there are no failure, no success, and no in-between. There is only human, and it’s our duty to help each other become the best version of ourselves.

Featured photo credit: Svilen.miev via Wikimedia Commons via commons.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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