Monday, 16 August 2010

More on sense of security: Status

Status is such a fundamental part of our psyche - Not only are the rules for who is high status and who is not very elaborate, but everybody knows them and everybody follows them. You can not not follow the rules for status - Either you have status or you don't.

Yes, you can try to act above your status, which will succeed or fail. But if you are succesful, then you have in effect not just acted high status, but actually risen in status. You have it.

Status is confidence. Confidence is to feel secure in oneself. To feel secure in oneself is to have a trust in oneself. Just as mastery of a task can be understood as a sense of security in what you can do, status can be understood as what you may do to others.

A person of high status can expect (trust, even) others to pay attention and respect to hir, and a person of low status is expected not to act outside hir station.

It's like...

- Our confidence is a meter that shows how important we are to our society or the group we belong to. (1)
- When we sense we are important, our confidence goes up, when we sense we could easily be replaced at any time, it goes down. (2)
- This confidence, in turn, is signalled outward with status behaviour, such as body language. (3)

An intricate system which I suppose every flock animal shares. It makes evolutionary sense - The best and most useful of us are brought to the front, so that their qualities may express themselves in the group at large. It is much more desirable to have the smart and succesful lead us, than the stupid and clutzy.

But, as usual with evolutionary psychology, this is not necessarily the most favourable way for modern humans. Many people have an insecurity or aren't that good with people, thus losing status and confidence in themselves, even in the abilities they are actually quite good at, and which would benefit the group as whole. Also, today we subscribe to the belief that all humans are equal - But still, we follow the old status rules to a letter, rules that say that some people just aren't worth our time. That is how strong they are.

In my post on trust, I made the simile that trust is the basic currency, the basic worth of life, and that this can be invested or betted. This is very much the case with status - Can you imagine anything more despicable to people in general than a low-status person who tries to act high status but fails? That is, being cocky, mean and proud but coming off as small-minded, stupid and insecure. That can be understood as betting your status on a high status move, but losing.

Status is one of my issues, something I've been occupied with figuring out and worrying about.

I've never had problems with finding friends and gaining the respect of those I care for, but I've always felt a bit outside in school classes. Sometimes in class discussions or at parties, I've felt like some weird prophet - They would listen intently to me, but I wasn't a part of the conversation. I've found myself finishing a thought, and see everyone look at me for a second, waiting for me to go on or something like that, rather than picking up on what I said - And, you know, discuss.
Probably related to another issue of mine - I need confirmation that what I do, what I say, what I give, is something valuable and meaningful. I've needed that affirmation.
During my university years, I identified myself as low status, but I'm starting to realize that I'm actually a high status individual.

Weird, scary and interesting.

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