Source: Pixabay by johnhain

Like an animal born and raised in captivity is inherently and existentially oblivious to the world beyond their cage, humans are, by nature, naively egocentric. It is cruelly ironic, then, that this same innate egocentrism stunts the pursuit of happiness and prosperity for so many.

Egocentrism, as defined by the renowned Jean Piaget1 in the 1920s, denotes a cognitive state in which an individual perceives the world only from their own perspective, failing to comprehend the differentiation between the objective actuality of situations and their own subjective grasp of the ‘reality’ they face.

While Piaget envisioned this concept applicable only to children – who, for instance, believe that they cannot be seen by a parent when covering their own eyes – the complexity of this mentality has since been extended to explain a scaled range of adult and adolescent experience. A failure to outgrow this mentality limits our life-time potential for success.

If to think egocentrically is to live inside a box, then to live outside the box is to be more.

Allow me to elaborate.

Consider the anxious thoughts that plague the minds of our generation: deep insecurities which we tend to turn over in our minds until we convince ourselves the world is against us; this is but a single perspective which we happen to hold in our minds. Consider another perspective.

A crippling, obsessive insecurity for one is but a fleeting thought in the mind of another.

If we ourselves do not possess a burning judgement toward a particular characteristic of another that is so intense and passionate that it would justify them suffering crippling anxiety, it is therefore egocentric to assume that another person assumes the same anxiety-inducing level of judgement and criticism that we may hold a characteristic of our own to. Read that again.

In other words, we lack the cognitive awareness to comprehend that we simply cannot know another person’s thoughts; our so called ‘reality’ of what we think people perceive us as is nothing but a product of our developing egocentric perspective. When we know this, definitively and in confidence, those anxious thoughts become so much easier to identify as instances of our subjective grasp on reality, that they can be filtered as such and dealt with in a healthy manner.

So, if you find yourself publicly suffering at the hands of your own thoughts, feeling drowned in the judgement of others because you’re having a bad hair day, or because a spot grew overnight, or because you’re not as skinny as the person next to you, become aware of this truth; we are thinking egocentrically; we cannot possibly know what others are thinking. Furthermore, if you could, you’d soon realise that everyone is too busy perceiving the world from their own egocentric centre to spare more than a momentary, passing thought toward the feature which you mentally torture yourself over. Believe this, know this, and we free ourselves from the toxic grip that the repressive prison of egocentrism manifests over our mentality.

In the same way that even the greatest minds of the 16th century would be unable to comprehend the possible existence of today’s advanced technology, or the way we would not be able to believe the state of the world 400 years from now if we were to see it, the possibility that the reality we face could be just one among millions of perspectives experienced is perhaps inconceivable. Similarly, we may be inclined to reject the absurd audacity of the concepts presented to us in this written piece. This issue is a product of our egocentrism, and more specifically, a concept referred to as cognitive dissonance; the human brain feels uncomfortable juggling conflicting beliefs and achieving new mindsets, so we convince ourselves of a reality that is comforting – that same reality confines our potential for growth and success under a glass ceiling of limitation. If you’ve reached this point of the article, something may have clicked in your mind that there is a chance that this information isn’t just superficial propaganda2, but there is logic behind the madness. Open your mind to the wonder of perspective and grant yourself the wisdom to navigate through the maze of life from atop the winding walls.

To think egocentrically is to live inside a box. To live outside the box is to learn more; to achieve more; to be more.


So how do you get out?


Open your mind.


2 – Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.

Published by Jack Anderson

Founder & Director of No Extra Source / Undergraduate student at University of Leeds

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