This time, I chose one of my favorite expressions as a topic: Is there a conspiracy by The Man to keep you down?
At times, especially if you work in a cube, it sure does feel like it. But living your life as if you have someone’s boot at your neck is not going to do much for your self-determination.
Here is a taste of the article:
I had a friend from college named Javier who was convinced that Walt Disney had it in for him. I don’t remember the particular conspiracy, only that it involved subliminal messages, Mickey Mouse and lots and lots of oppression.
Walt Disney was not the only tyrant in his life, there were many more:
• The U.S. Government
• The IRS
• The CIA
I am sure I am only scratching the surface.
The funny thing is, none of these monolithic institutions held a candle to the sabotage Javier did to himself. He had tormented love affairs. He would lose school papers on his computer just as he was about to finish them. His promising internships always ended in a fight with a boss or co-worker. His sharp intellect and gigantic heart were prisoners behind a curtain of anger, hurt and bitterness. All he knew was that Everybody was out to get him.
Martha explains this phenomenon in Finding Your Own North Star:
“In fact, everybody’s Everybody is composed of just a few key people. Our social nature makes us long to fit in with a larger group, but its difficult to hold the tastes and opinions of more than five or six individuals in your mind. So the resourceful social self creates a kind of shorthand: it picks up a few people’s attitudes, emblazons them on your brain, and extrapolates this image until it covers the entire known universe. The vague compilation of folks, you call Everybody is what psychologists term ‘the generalized other.”
Looking at the world through an Everybody perspective leads to statements like:
- I would be more successful in my career, but The Company is holding me back
- More people would read my blog if the A Listers weren’t so selfish
- I would start a business but no one from my background ever succeeds
- I would be in a relationship if Men were not such dogs
- I would be better at handling my money if Schools didn’t discriminate against girls in Math
Such broad generalizations keep you stuck and powerless. By believing them, you hand your creativity and motivation directly to the force you think is oppressing you.
To get a handle on who your Everybody is, try a couple of these exercises from Finding Your Own North Star, (page 63):
Read the rest here.