The psychology of Lake Wobegon
I was doing the course an 'Introduction To Psychology', by Yale University, when I was first acquainted with the Lake Wobegon effect. Okay, close your eyes. Picture the one thing you do better than anything else. Got it? Now rate yourself, on a scale from one to ten, at how well you do that thing. Psychology says that, on average, people tend to believe they are above the mean in any aspect. Why is this? Firstly, the criteria for 'good' varies from person to person. I may think that I'm a good human being because I care for others. My friend believes he's a good human being because he cares for the environment, while my parents believe that they are good human beings because they've taken care of me all my life. Frankly speaking-- they’re all probably wrong. Being a good human being may have a completely different criteria, but that won't matter so long as you can subconsciously believe that you're a better human being than the average man. Moreover, as we receive complimentary feedback from people we look up to, such as teachers or parents, we're less likely to be able to discern for ourselves how talented we are, at a certain thing. It's like someone else already made the decision for us.
Now here's why I believe the Lake Wobegon effect is gradually wearing of off us. In today's highly competitive and relentlessly unforgiving society, so many teenagers put themselves up against impossible standards. With the increasing exposure to social media and the internet, the scale of comparison to others' achievements is limitless. Every breathing moment, consciously or subconsciously, we spend trying to better ourselves relative to someone who's one step ahead, rather than for our own well-being. While ambition and competition do motivate us to do better, in recent years, the incessant, often self-deprecating comparisons we make to others have proven to leave us despondent and incapable of recognising our true potential. The result? We find ourselves hopelessly spiralling in a vicious circle of one-uppance. I've witnessed people spend their whole lives following a dream, only to realise toward the end that it was never their own. So you can tell why I'm adamant to ensure that that isn't the case with me.
This brings me to an important learning from a book I've been reading called 'The Power of The
Subconscious Mind.' The author, Joesph Murphy, enlightens us of the influence our subconscious mind has on our decisions. It is incapable of reasoning; it solely uses its power to execute what the conscious mind already believes. Let me give you an example-- If a student does not believe in their
own potential, the subconscious mind blindly executes the very same belief impeding her ability to truly unlock her potential. Its simple really; you choose the capacity of your capabilities, which your subconscious merely implements. So let me end with a few words of encouragement by Jospeh Murphy: "Your greatest power is your capacity to choose, so choose happiness and choose abundance."