When I am feeling sad or anxious about the social status people in the EA community are assigning me, I've found it helps to try and focus on how well I am living up to my own beliefs and values.

To help with that, I generally think about what actions I have taken that I think were right or wrong.

For any mistakes I think I made, I play the "find the policy update game" by:

  • Figuring out what behavior was responsible for the mistake occurring
  • Figuring out what behavior should replace the less-than-optimal behavior
  • Figuring out how to ensure that I actually change my behavior to the better behavior

Example behavior changes include:

  • Listen to people more
  • Notice when you are putting on airs to gain status
  • Think more about whether you think your sentences are true before saying them
  • See more of people's potential rather than their flaws
  • More examples (as well as the concept of "tortoise skills") here

I've found that making the behavior change often takes time.  Though I've found that the thing that makes it work in general is just reflecting on the intended behavior change enough such that you begin to notice yourself making mistakes. I tend to reflect on the behaviors right after playing the policy update game, randomly, and sometimes as I am falling asleep. 

Probably adding this sort of thing to a weekly reflection routine is a more robust strategy. I imagine just having to add my mistakes to a list might make me get over my in-the-moment status anxieties faster, but I'm not sure. I'd be curious if anyone's tried this. I'd also be curious to hear what other people have found helpful when they have status-related anxiety.


 

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Hi Jack, the policy update game you posted reminds me of some of the writing by William B. Irvine. He is a philosophy professor and has published a few books on Stoicism. 

He has a book about insults and how our reaction to them stem from humans naturally being very aware of their place in a community's hierarchy. Of course having a higher place in the hierarchy feels "good" but being in a lower position feels "bad." Irvine suggests trying not to play the hierarchy game at all because it frees you from the anxiety of where you are on the totem poll. This is difficult and unnatural, but I think is an interesting thought. 

IMO, when it comes to making mistakes in social settings (or at least mistakes only one perceives) the best way through it is with some sort of compassion practice to oneself or the other person. I think before assuming you made a mistake you could add the question of "if someone did that thing to me, could I easily forgive them?" If the answer is yes, then maybe don't sweat it because generally we think of ourselves way more than we think others do[1].  If the answer is no, immediately apologize, forgive yourself, and move on. Either way, it's mentally taxing being too critical of yourself of a mistake you may or may not have made. 

  1. ^

    https://medium.com/the-ascent/research-confirms-that-no-one-is-really-thinking-about-you-f6e7b09c458 

    Article I skimmed through that as the main argument I'm suggesting.

Oh, interesting, thanks for this.

I think before assuming you made a mistake you could add the question of "if someone did that thing to me, could I easily forgive them?" If the answer is yes, then maybe don't sweat it because generally we think of ourselves way more than we think others do[1]

I really like this advice, and I just realized I use this trick sometimes.