Friday, April 17, 2015

Life's Lens: Ingroups vs. Outgroups

How can some people's mentality, always pushing others to get ahead, looking at life like a game, figuring out how to become exciting and successful, mesh with others' mentality? Those who are more loving and embracing, always seeing the best in people. Homely. Not caring about material things such as money so much as good relationships and spirituality.

These two views might seem contradictory. "Surely one must be the correct way to live one's life?", an astute observer might ask.

People look at the world in one of several ways, and I just described two ends of the spectrum. These ways have to deal with in-group vs out-group biases.

Solo: You are the only member of your in-group. You're tough and you'll make life what you want. Or perhaps you're a victim, and bad shit always happens to you. In either sense, you are viewing life through the lens of imagining yourself as the only member of your in-group.

Paired: Same as the Solo lens, but with a partner as part of your in-group. The rest of the world is your out-group. Perhaps with a wife, mother, husband, friend.

Tribal: You have your family and close friends, and they are in your corner, but nobody else is. Or at least it takes a while for them to enter your group. Together the group of you is going out into the world together. Part of a small community, perhaps. In this view of the world, you have an in-group of maybe 3-20 members. They are your tribe. The rest of the world is your out-group. You're fiercely loyal to those you respect and love.

Global: You're a dirty hippie. Okay, maybe not. But you have an all-encompassing view of the entire world as your in-group. You love animals and it takes a lot for somebody to be on your out-group. We're all just human, going through life together, aren't we? Think spiritual leaders, loving (perhaps naïve from the perspective of the Solo viewer), kind, people. They have chosen (or were conditioned) to see life as positively loving as they can.

There is a spectrum, but this is the lens through which each of us see life, and it colors our interpretations of events, our emotions, our "logical thoughts" (quotes because if they were actually objectively logical, then these thoughts wouldn't be changed by one's perspective on life).

Are you aware of where you fit on this spectrum? Or perhaps you have changed your perspective throughout your life? And more importantly, and can you empathize with others' perspective, and perhaps even change your own?

Or, did you change your lens without your choice? It's possible that you may have changed to a different outlook on life after a traumatic experience as a defense mechanism. Perhaps always bitter at your job or spouse, using the Solo outlook as a defense mechanism. Or perhaps after a death, you adopted a more spiritual Global outlook because you were afraid to face the harsh realities put in front of you.

Your outlook should be your choice. The minute your outlook becomes the result of some external factor and use a lens as a defense mechanism, you are no longer in control of your thoughts or your life. You should be consciously choosing your outlook every minute of the day or you are weak against your circumstances.

Self-awareness gives possibility to choice. Use it.

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