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Bust your own biases and everything is more fair.

Bust your own biases and everything is more fair.

Almost everyone is focused on making sure they get a fair deal in the workplace. Fair pay. Fair status. Fair approval ratings by others. And fair treatment when it comes to having access to power and attention. Why? Because that’s how our first experience of systems trained us to focus in order to survive. That system? Our family of origin. What we noticed and what still remains in the personal unconscious place in our memory is how we ranked against others that competed with us for survival in our first human system. Often it’s siblings. But if we didn’t have siblings, it could have been cousins or even our parents who competed with us for power, the one thing that we could use to get what we needed to survive to adulthood. The power to choose. The power to manipulate advantage. The power to influence. And more. If we deny this, we’re only being naive. Every living thing fights for survival. We must. And we can’t do any good for others unless we see it for what it is.  

Personality is a strategy

So, it follows, that we also tap into those first experiences of a dynamic human system as we perceive one another in the current human systems we encounter everyday.  If we didn’t get our fair share in our first experiences, then we might have adapted by striving extra hard for it in our current interactions. Or we might give up if that strategy worked for us to manipulate attention from someone important. I often tell people that personality is a strategy. Carl Jung would call personality a complex of patterns that come together to accomplish something. To do a job. Form a strategy for how to get our needs met. And the number one job is to survive no matter what. 

If our parents favored one of our siblings, that too, affects how we see the peers we work with today. We have experienced it in the past, so we look for the warning signs in our competitors today. And often we find whatever it is that we are looking for. After all, personality is a strategy that is easy to access to validate human failings or “flaws” in others if we’re specifically looking for them! 

The narcissistic aspect of pathos in ego

But here’s the rub. If we spend our time and attention looking for failings in others in order to keep things fair, we may miss something really important. Carl Jung referred to this problem as the narcissistic aspect of pathos in ego that wants to believe we are above the “human experiment” and all of their failings. The minute we think of ourselves as better, we contribute to the same problem we are claiming makes the world unfair. Namely, the dark shadow elements of being human. So when we notice that someone is not being fair, we begin to think of them as bad and us as good. This creates even more potentially unfair judgment. Because what annoys us about others most, is precisely the ONE thing that can show us our own dark shadow aspects that we are so cleverly denying by projecting them onto others for relief. 

Perhaps an example will make this even clearer. If I am judging another person’s behavior as unfair to me, I must also be judging that person and all the while putting it on them to be perfect - right while I am the one judging them for not being without flaws. Making me just as imperfect as they are. My own behavior may look nicer on the surface (if I secretly think it, but don’t say it). And the other person’s behavior might seem more obviously negative because they acted upon it, but it still remains important that my “trying to be nice” is really just me trying to put myself above another in my own mind. So, I can have pride in being better than someone. Which is, again, not really a fair assessment most of the time. 

What to do with this dilemma?

We must first notice our own biases and judgments about others and do our very best to remember that while we can and do need to make judgments about others in order to interact, we must remember not to place higher standards on others than we wish to have placed on ourselves. This means remembering that we are all part of this human experiment. And therefore, we are all part of the problem just by being human. So when we look at the world in disgust and say “it’s all going to pot!” we are actually also a part of the problem. We all have immense responsibility for being the best we can be in the circle of our own lives. And instead of being part of the problem, we have the opportunity to focus our efforts on what we CAN do about changing things that could be better. We might not change the world in a day, but we can contribute to the many who are quietly doing their part. 

The short of all of this is that we can all choose to be a little more fair to one another. We can give one another the benefit of doubt, always.  Just chuckle and say, “Yes, they are being human.”.As I am. 

And remember this. We can so easily see the flaws of others, but we always seem to struggle a bit more, to see our own.