With a few extreme exceptions, every self-respecting person is against any form of slavery.
Why then are we ourselves the slaves of deeper emotions and motives, which we rationally know is not good for us?

Today I saw a few things around me, while at the same time some loose thoughts played through my head. There was a red thread, right through all kinds of things that are now in the publicity. To name a few: the municipal elections, the referendum on the protection of personal digital data, the disastrous Facebook – Cambridge Analytica hassle, the impending Trumpian trade war, a message that a successful bargain sale action is being prolonged for another week, the Holleeder lawsuit , and the many passers-by, seeking their way outside my window (which is as big as in a shop).

This common thread consisted of a number of stamps for people, meeting the Yin-Yang principle:

  • leader – followers
  • wolf – sheep
  • hunter – prey
  • seller – consumers
  • dealer – addicts

You can supplement the list yourself with examples from your own experience. The common feature is power. One party uses methods, ranging from mental influencing to outright manipulation and physical domination (“the right of the strongest”), to force individuals from the other group, which is usually much larger, to display certain behaviors. The underlying motive usually is just to get more money. As herds are not defenseless against a predator as long as they act unanimous and coherent, people also unite in groups to resist such exploitation. It’s a pity that within these groups automatically a split between leaders and followers arises.

Dodge: Individual and crowd. (Click to show the text)

As a crowd of people, we are given laws, beliefs and values ​​that allow us to live together without too many problems. Let’s assume that they can stand the test of integrity (which is not always true). In that case, we assume a sense of responsibility among the powerful among us for the docile fellow man. We expect to have a free choice about how we organize our lives. Unfortunately… One of the reasons why people suffer psychologically is that they notice exactly the opposite, if only because those general rules can never do justice to all individuals. The growth of #Organismics creates opaque constructions that lead a life of their own, and that apparently nobody wants to exert influence on. Ultimately, we struggle with modern forms of slavery…

The larger the group of individuals, the more emphatically a vertical hierarchy will be established. Due to the trend of globalization, we now see a world with a rapidly growing population and very complex interlocked authority structures. People who occupy a position in such a structure have different perspectives, norms and values ​​than their fellow man a few levels lower. You see that by the ease with which fraud is committed, extreme salaries are demanded, and rules are avoided that are inevitable for others. Such positions exude the temptation of power, wealth and inviolability, which, for 80% of the privileged, is the reason to strive for such a function. Only a few shining examples also remain just human among the people, as “primus inter pares”. The rest use the crowd as a docile flock, good enough for delivering money (even if it was only an increasing own salary).

Of course we can always look around us at signals and reasons why things are not going as we would like. But how about ourselves? Do we just keep doing the things that are expected of us, from our (sometimes uncomfortable, but yes, that’s better than nothing) comfort zone? Will we continue to silence our frustration with an evening watching TV, shouting our throats at a soccer match, or get drunk in a cafè? By analogy with the power of the herd, the call to revolution often arises. Even if then something might shift, and prevailing rulers are eliminated, in fact not much will change in the end. The damage is often very large, and the bill is ultimately paid for by the mass.

The question that arose with me was the following: “What’s behind our choice for a leading or a following role?
This choice is dependent mainly on the situation in which we end up. Can you add or achieve something in that situation? What are the risks for your well-being? Where are the best chances of survival? How much energy does the chosen role cost, and will that pay off? Keep in mind that both roles can be filled in both desired and unwanted! Some bosses don’t feel happy in their leading role. And most followers just lump in their minor influence. That is than the negative choice, the best of two bad options if you can not change your situation. In both cases, the unhappy feeling can lead to stress and depression.

Of course your skills are important too, but you can develop these for a large part. In addition, your origins and upbringing drive you in a certain direction. Some individuals have an innate authority, others are the perfect water carriers. Nevertheless, the situation itself is of decisive importance, whether such qualities come into their own. That is why in one case we can be the hunter, and in the other situation the prey. Just like every leader always has his own boss, even if that is not an individual, but for example a company or meeting. There are other examples of role change. Take the manager in the gym, who now follows the guidelines of the sports instructor. Or the top athlete with a closet full of medals, later in the business sometimes starts at the bottom of the ladder due to lack of training, or the loss of years of experience in the field. Look around you for more examples where the glory of one moment pales at a later time, or that someone is a late bloomer in his life.

If I had to indicate one important difference between the two roles, then it is “drive“. The leader looks to achieve something that is not yet there, while the follower mainly wants to use what is already available. That is why the leader will always have an impact on the rest: he strives for things that others want. Both adapt their behavior to achieve their goal, but in opposite directions. One is rather a filibuster, while the other seeks the peace and security of communality.

If we’ll enjoy the role we ultimately play,  we’ll choose it. That pleasure can be very complex though, for example, when a child sometimes enjoys negative attention (such as getting punishment). Some people always look for confrontational situations, so that others have to support them. Even if we do not want to admit it, the undercurrent of self-indulgence is present in all of us. Fortunately, it is not necessarily something negative. Repeating your preferences offers some safety because of previous experiences. In your comfort zone you do a lot on autopilot, leaving you with energy and time for other things. You don’t have to reinvent everything. A pleasant feeling gives you strength when one day it’s a bit disappointing. Such positive lessons form a kind of frame of reference for comparing new experiences.

Pleasure is the reward system of the brain to compensate emotions and intuition from the heart. It is that lazy voice that says: “Don’t change anything, please, it’s quite okay, right? “. It also cultivates a lazy brain: if the feeling of pleasure corresponds to previous sensations, you do not have to question the rest of what happens. Because we choose, think and do the same things more often, these patterns are burnt into the brain, as it were, and become hard to ignore. That is not a problem until we become dependent on it. As soon as we can not or do not want to make other choices anymore, we have become addicted. There are of course many addictions, such as chocolate, coffee, smoking, sex, drugs, work, violence, and so on. It is interesting to see that the wolves among us use this type of addictions to keep the large herd in control. If you get a bit of a notion for this, you can start making other choices. Then you make a serious step to personally take more control of your own life.

Although the first step usually is the awareness of external temptations, whereby you actually become a slave of others, ultimately it’s about your subconscious addiction to pleasure. If you make conscious choices about pleasure, and know how to dose it, then you make a start with escaping the mental slavery in which you had brought yourself. Don’t choose the easiest way now and then, or the path of least resistance. For once truly be loyal to your principles, without thinking of an excuse why “this time” you can compromise. That doesn’t mean that you can no longer experience joy. But it does mean that you accept other and new types of joy as a real opportunity to enrich your life. Then you may notice that you are neither the leader nor the follower, and that others have less control over you.

  • Accept that you can become more aware of your own dependencies step by step.
  • See how you are tempted and choose consciously.
  • Do not give in to any form of addiction whatsoever.
  • Give attention and energy to what really brings joy to you, and reap that pleasure too.
  • Do not participate in what harms others.

P.S .: I started this post with a number of observations. Most of them will now have fallen into place, but one may not be. That bargain sale action ….
Well, very simple: we are tempted to buy more than we need. The marketing text sounds good, but is just nonsense. An exceptionally successful clearance can not be extended at all, because everything is already sold out. If a shopkeeper is able to sell goods for a week longer, then the clearance campaign in fact wasn’t that successful. In other words: the message actually was a lie.

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