After reading this scientific study, I now know why it is easy for any of us to live a mediocre or average life.
Researchers Michael Ross and Anne Wilson out of Waterloo Ontario, Canada, studied the links between, self assessment and autobiographical memory.
Self assessment is an assessment or evaluation of oneself or one’s actions and attitudes, in particular, of one’s performance at a job or learning task considered in relation to an objective standard.
Autobiographical memory contains knowledge of the self, used to provide information on what the self is, what the self was, and what the self can be. This information is categorized into three broad areas: lifetime periods, general events, and event-specific knowledge.
Ross and Wilson validated that people generally view themselves as improving over time, relative to their peers and colleagues. The research suggests that this sense of improvement is delusional. This false sense of improvement is driven by, and motivated by, the desire for an individual to enhance themselves.
This sense of improvement comes from the subjective feeling of temporal distance. Or also called Temporal Self appraisal theory. Which states that uplifting events of individuals often seem quite recent in time. Therefore, individuals, tend to perceive these positive moments as more relevant or representative of their current life. While upsetting events seem further back in time.
Depending how close a situation is to the present, if the situation was a positive experience, the research shows that people tend to praise themselves accordingly. If a situation is negative, the research shows that the people will criticize themselves and believe that the event was further in the past. Depending on the implications of the situation on the current self.
The research confirms that we will do whatever we can to show that our current self is a better version than our past self. Even when nothing quantifiable and verifiable has been done to improve our current self.
But Brian, we should always want to be positive and give ourselves credit that we are moving forward.
Hey, I agree! I want to be positive as well. But the problem with delusion is you start to believe it after a while.
In all of the research, participants evaluated themselves as being better than the past self and better against their peers, when they had done nothing to become better. Wilson and Ross suppose that by contrasting our present selves to a lesser earlier self enhances how the present self looks.
Reading the above facts. And they are facts, based on research. It is easy to see how we can go through life being average and never get ahead. So what are the implications and what can we do about it?
The implications: First, if we didn’t like ourselves before, the chances are we haven’t done anything quantifiable that says we have made any progress to get any better. So we need to create some goals and measurements for ourselves that can prove that we are getting better in whatever it is we are engaged in. Work, Health, Life, Money, friends, relationships, etc. To ensure we aren’t delusional or comparing our current self to a past self that is marginally better or the same, clearly stated measurement and goals can verify your growth.
What can we do about it: Become a student of yourself. Sounds kind of selfish, but it is true. When you learn to study yourself: your actions, your tendencies, your commitments, your weaknesses, your strengths, etc. You become better in all areas of your life and you might stop comparing yourself to a past that is similar or worse than your present.
To your success and your future.
For more resources and information on how to start changing your habits and behaviors to fulfill your true mission and live the life you have always wanted, contact me and let’s have a conversation.