By many measures, it’s an objectively shitty time to be a human. From a pandemic, to the climate crisis, to economic insecurity, there is no shortage of things to suffer in the world. Of course, there have been a lot of shitty times in human history—the Atlantic slave trade, smallpox in the Americas, and the two world wars all come to mind. And somehow men have emerged triumphant.
Anyone and everyone gaslights these days. A politician who walks back a campaign promise? Gaslighter. A wife who insists she contributes to the housework despite never having washed a dish in her life? Gaslighter. A boyfriend who refuses to admit to infidelity despite text message evidence? The crown prince of gaslighting.
Much of who we are is shaped early on in childhood, a childhood that very much depends on whether we had good or bad parents. For those of us who had bad parents, an all too common result is the self-limiting beliefs that stop us from living a happy life. Unproductive and unbalanced, the ghosts of our childhood past hold us hostage and hold us back.
By bragging, we signal to others that we feel deficient and insecure. It does nothing to move us forward as we’re cloaking the underlying issues rather than addressing them. Even when it’s just part of our job (social influencers take note), it’s likely to negatively affect our mental health and can come at a significant human cost. Inevitably, there’s a price to pay for the brag.
How is being a ‘people-pleaser’ different from simply having a desire to be helpful? One could argue that our desire to help others is more or less proportional to our compassion. And that the more we care about people — whether in our family, our community, or the world at large — the greater our desire to help them.
While Oprah didn’t invent the “aha moment,” Google the words and you’ll find no shortage of gifs showing her exaggerated expressions. The aha moment, according to John Kounios, a professor of psychology, is that moment of sudden realization. It’s a phenomenon that’s fascinated psychologists for over a century.