Breaking out of your social conditioning is a challenge, because you've been taught the right and wrong way to behave since you became aware you existed.
But social conditioning could in many ways be holding you back. A maximised life is interdependent, meaning you must work with, and grow with, other people. If you are stuck in the mindset I'm about to outline, then you will be minimising your potential.
So, there are two paradigms, competition and collaboration. Here in the western world, we are highly individualistic, meaning that there is a big focus on the individual person gaining as much as they can for themselves.
I'm definitely affected by this personally. I just noticed now that you can see it in my writing. My implication is often that YOU can reach this kind of life, rather than WE can. I am not doing this on purpose - my mind has also been conditioned to be individualistic.
You are minimising yourself if you are using the competition paradigm. This kind of individualist thinking has led to a lot of people wanting themselves to be the best looking, the most popular, the richest, the most talented. We can see the competition paradigm everywhere. Advertising tells us that the best people use these products; school teaches us that the smartest people can be in these sets; the richest people in these houses; the most popular people with these friends. Society is just set up that way.
What do you think it's doing to your brain?
Most likely it's given you the competition paradigm. Now you think that if you're going to have a good life, you need to compete with everyone else. Not everyone can live well, right? You gotta fight off the competition, because there's only a limited number of spaces for an awesome life!
The bad news is that you will crash and burn by thinking this way. Realise this:
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE BETTER THAN YOU.
And that's okay!
You can be an amazing writer - but there's someone better. You can be a top athlete, but there's someone fitter. You can be really sexy, but there's someone even sexier.
You can move into the rich district, and start feeling, classy, but now there's people all around you who are richer. You earn a million a year and begin to feel good - but now you can see other people that laugh at a million a year.
And the worst part is, even if you do reach the top and become the greatest at whatever - what do you now think you're going to be doing? You're going to be looking back at all the people jealous of you, and you're going to be living in fear that they'll come up and take your spot.
You can't win by competing in life! Sure, a little healthy competition is not bad. But you may be limited by this in more areas than you'd realised. Ever feel afraid, shy or intimidated in a social situation? Ever see someone behave bitterly or defensive of you because they feel threatened by you?
All these behaviours and anxieties stem from the fact that we're thinking in scarcity. We believe that there aren't enough amazing lives to go round, so you have to fight against other people to get what you want.
This is where the collaboration paradigm can turn everything around for you.
Instead of thinking scarcity, think abundance. There is plenty in the world; plenty of wisdom, plenty of friends, plenty of good jobs, plenty of events happening. There is no need to feel divided from everyone else; there is no need to feel that you're in competition.
In fact - and this may sound weird - next time you're in a conversation, try imagining that you're in the person's head. Try imagining that instead of two separate people talking, you are talking to part of yourself.
The result will be that you're far less socially stifled. This is the power of collaboration. Who has more social impact:
-Someone yelling, being competitive and trying to assert their dominance?
-Someone trying to work with you and share?
Who would you listen to?
The person who just wants to collaborate and form a win-win situation, right?
We're only afraid and bitter while we're divided. Treat every one and everything as if it's all part of you. Work with, not against.
Competition will have you struggling and fighting, and never totally empowered because there's always someone better.
Collaboration means that you're free of this struggle. Enjoy the benefits of not being the best - no scarcity, things just are what they are. When you're working with other people, we can all maximise each other.