The “looking-glass self” is a concept created 115 years ago, by a sociologist by the name of Charles Horton Cooley, in his work Human, Nature, and Social Order.
The theory was formed to understand how individuals create a sense of identity. A person’s “self” is constructed largely through interactions with society, and over the years have been broken down into this three-step process:
- We create a sense of who we are
- We carry that sense of who we are into society, which elicits a response from others
- We internalize those interactions and judgements to further develop our “self”
It is through this theory that words (specifically labels) can be reconciled to our actions; and the responses we get, are a form of “societal feedback”. Through this theory, we start to understand what it means to be “good” or “bad”, what it means to experience “love” “hatred” “shame” and “guilt”. The feelings we experience, knowing what someone’s response is to our actions, is how we connect to other human beings. This is how we essentially develop who we are.
I want to tie that together, to the self-improvement aspect of this blog. As you mature, and become an adult, one must truly understand that the metric of the theory changes. It goes from responses telling you simplistic terms of identification, to more complex ones, especially when it comes to interactions with prospective employers, business partners, and women.
“strong employee”, “reliable partner”, “suitable mate”
Those are the adult terms of identification in people’s minds, and let me tell you gentlemen, if your actions do not align with these phrases, the world will greet you with the rudest of awakenings.
That is why I never believed anyone who said they “never cared what people thought about them”. That is a lie, because this concept and its effects are unavoidable. People who say this, who aren’t their best possible selves, are copping out, using a defense mechanism to avoid the truth.
Are you starting to see the beauty of this idea? Gentlemen, the looking-glass theory was put in place because it acts as a mitigating control for complacent, nonchalant social behavior.
It was designed for you as a human being to constantly be evaluating yourself. A test of your value.
The world has become far too content with wallowing in its own muck of mediocrity, simply because we have gone away from this principle. Society has accepted the poor responses we receive from people, in critical junctions in our lives, either from just being oblivious, lackluster, or worse, growing in a sense of entitlement.
The world owes you NOTHING. The sooner we all understand that, the sooner we can begin reconstructing ourselves for the better. The words “entitled” and “deserve” shouldn’t exist in the minds of those who desire greatness and yet the mass majority of people are just fine with taking what the world gives them. Content with being losers, 2nd place trophy carrying individuals.
This is simply unacceptable.
I want you to understand that as you get older, you must pay close attention to reactions you get when you present yourself to the world. Don’t get caught up in people sugar-coating the message, and don’t try to fool yourself if you are getting repeat results in a certain facet of life. As the adage goes, actions speak louder than words.
“Rejection is just a part of life”. Well. It’s an aspect you should grow to loathe.
Rejection from job interviews, collaborative business ventures, an 8-9-Dime telling you “naw, I’m good”, should bother you. Let the anger fuel you, let it manifest into making you greater. There is nothing wrong with carrying a chip on your shoulder.
Do you know what it says, when society responds to your efforts with constant rejection and you do nothing about it?
It says you have accepted society’s response and you are ok with being treated on their terms.
Only the strong survive, and maybe you might get lucky in some aspects of life, but generally you must go back into the mental lab, and focus on becoming high value, focus on becoming a better product, a better version of yourself that gets to dictate the terms.
If you’re getting rejected by women often, re-examine your game. What about you doesn’t speak to being high value? Appearance? Confidence? Openers? Re-examine and test until you improve your results.
If you are getting turned down for job offers, what about you doesn’t speak to you being a viable candidate? Write down your interview responses on paper and recite them, practice every day, and focus on owning the room.
A common principle I always preach is, if we as men become more high value, women will have no choice but to follow suit. The thirst guys provide on social media have these 5’s and 6’s thinking they are better than what they are, and it’s got to stop. It’s beta male mentality to thirst for any and everything; moreover, if a woman realizes she needs to re-evaluate, she will step her game up as well. The society progresses together.
In conclusion, the path to knowing and constructing the best, high value version of yourself possible, is the looking-glass theory.
Challenge yourself to understand the responses you are receiving and adapt accordingly.
I will leave you with one last quote from Charles Horton Cooley:
“A talent somewhat above mediocrity, shrewd and not too sensitive, is more likely to rise in the world than genius”
It doesn’t take extraordinary ability to become a better you, just grit, a “want to”, a “I’m not going to let anything stop me from being great” attitude.
It may mean putting yourself out of your comfort zone, but you must challenge yourself to defeat yourself, and become great.
Weather Your Storm, Maintain Inner Reign -E