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How To Understand People: Egotism Vs. Egocentrism

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Unless you’re an enlightened being, you have an ego.

People that tell you they do things without ego are lying, every human instinct is toward pleasure and away from pain.

Even if that instinct is charity, you still get a payoff for helping other people, in fact helping others is one of the best ways to be happy.

I don’t like the word ego, I think it’s inaccurate, a better term is your self, but I’ll use it here as it’s term people are familiar with.

The bulk of the ideas in this video and audio come from the Treatise On Love and incredible essay on human behavior through the lens of ethology, or the study of animal behavior applied to humans.

For the sake of argument I’ll use the authors terms of egotist or a person who is aware of their place in the world and will fight for it and an egocentric, a person who literally, although mostly unconsciously, acts as if the world revolves around them.

Most people tend toward one pole or the other, with the worst people in the world at the extreme ends of each pole. The defining feature of both the extreme egotist and extreme egocentric is low empathy. With that said, all of us tend to swing towards one pole or the other.

Understanding these concepts are important for understanding people and being able to see how people relate to the world around them. Check out the video and audio below as well as the bullet point summary:

Summary: Egotism Vs. Egocentrism

I don’t like either the words ego, egotist or egocentric, but they’re the best maps I have on this topic. The key point of understanding is in how people relate to the world and their place in it.

Egotism

  • An egotist understands people well but still puts themselves above others, it is an attribute of high rank
  • Men tend to be more egotistic in general (definitely plenty of egocentric men however)
  • An egotist looks at the world as a place to fight for his material interests and how he ranks against others
  • An egotist can self evaluate and see where he stacks up compared to other people
  • Egotists have a much more realistic view of the world through understanding other people
  • A person who tends towards egotism can also understand the emotions of other people
  • Egotists will have much better success in sales, business, athletics etc.
  • Low empathy egotists are the Stalin’s and Mussolini’s of the world
  • They understand the suffering they cause to people, but believe it’s necessary

Egocentrism

  • Egocentrism is inability to WISH to put yourself in another person’s shoes
  • If men tend towards egotism women tend towards egocentrism
  • The true egocentric only thinks about the world from their own perspective
  • Therefore they have a bad understanding of other people and what motivates them
  • They see themselves, mostly subconsciously, as the center of their own universe
  • The easiest way to see what this looks like is by watching children, children are egocentric
  • Children until the age of 5 rarely ask why
  • Egocentric people don’t ask why and don’t have a great curiosity about the world
  • Most people grow out of egocentrism when they hit their teenage years and develop social awareness
  • Some people don’t, an extreme egocentric person has little understanding of other people
  • For an extreme egocentric person, other people are just characters in their reality
  • Egocentric people assume the world is as concerned about their problems as they are
  • These are the people that cut the line in the supermarket and explain that they’re in a hurry
  • Egocentric people don’t notice the inconvenience because they don’t think about others
  • If attacked “how can you do this to me?”, “why are you being so mean to me?”
  • An egocentric person can have empathy for others but still not understand the effects of their behavior on other people
  • They can read gestures and emotions, but they can’t and don’t have an interest in other people’s inner worlds
  • An egocentric person is in love with their own inner world and therefore the mirror
  • Low empathy egocentric people, much like low empathy egotists feel very little guilt
  • Egocentric people are more likely to succeed in the arts as opposed to business

Examples

The partnership of Kanye and Jay Z is a good example of egocentrism vs. egotism (not saying either of these guys are bad guys). Kanye is extremely emotional and uncalibrated, he believes he’s the Steve Jobs of his generation and can’t understand why other people don’t see him the same way.

Jay Z is the opposite, a cold and calculating player in the game of life. He has a great understanding of people and social cues. He knows how to get people to do business with him and he knows what image to present to the public based on who he’s dealing with. You will never see uncalibrated emotional rants or tweets from Jay Z.

Conclusion

Understanding how people relate to the world is important. It’s also important for you to understand yourself, because it will be very hard for you to succeed as an egocentric person. Being able to sell to them is a crucial skill in the game of life and that means understanding people as well as how your behavior affects others.

I’m not saying to become an extreme egotist with low empathy (that’s not even possible unless you come from an abusive childhood and are already there). I’m saying to have empathy and be ethical, but also understand that a large part of success comes from understanding people and selling to them.

It also comes from knowing how you stack up compared to others and how to improve. When you take an egocentric view towards dating for example, it becomes very difficult to get what you want. As opposed to honestly assessing your sexual market value, assessing your game and comparing how you stack up to other guys – this is how you improve.


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