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Extreme MEism As A Poverty Paradigm

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Solipsism As The Ultimate Narcissistic Philosophy

I only discovered this word that rolls off the tongue about ten years ago–and like many such events, it triggered a deluge of appearances of the word in all its forms in the magazines I read and TV shows I watched. Suddenly, “solipsism” and “solipsistic” were all over the place. This is probably understandable as we move more and more from the “Me Decade” to the “Only Me Decade.” The first was in the 1970s, when the label was used to describe not only the self-absorption of many, but also what I see as the positive movement toward self improvement, so that maybe a more apt title would have been, “The Work-On-Me Decade.” A lot of the fringe movements of those days, like yoga, meditation, personal lifestyle coaches, Tai Chi, and feng shui have become part of the mainstream culture–and this is all to the good. But there still is a propensity toward self-absorption, solipsism if you will.

The dictionary definition of “solipsism” is:  the philosophy that one’s self is the only thing that can be proven to exist, and therefore is the only thing that matters. Believing that your self is the only thing that can be known and verified leads to certain behavior. And I think this kind of behavior leads to poverty consciousness. It’s about going it alone, trying to get to that top of the heap where you are all-powerful and all alone. Now this can sometimes lead to some success, there are certainly a lot of examples of that. However, the truly prosperous, in terms of achieving not only financial success but all the other good stuff like love and creative satisfaction and leaving a positive thumbprint on the world, they see others as equally important to themselves.

The two richest men in America, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, are prime examples of anti-solipsism and maximum prosperity consciousness. They not only made billions for themselves, but took a lot of people along for their rides to major wealth. They created hundreds of millionaires, and even a few billionaires. It’s also why both of them are optimistic about our future, rather than always declaring or predicting doom and gloom.

A Solipsist Cannot Be Truly Successful

I tend to agree with the definition of success by my friend, Dr. Maria Nemeth, author of The Energy Of Money, that it is “To do what I say I will do consistently, with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.” By it’s very nature, solipsism cannot accommodate or coexist with this kind of commitment. If you believe you are the only entity that truly exists, you would have no reason to tell someone else what you were going to do and then follow through by actually doing it. Solipsism leads to profound arrogance in the spiritual, political, entertainment and corporate worlds.  When you have millions hanging on your every word, it is hard to believe anyone else’s words are valuable or worth listening to.

Politicians are often guilty of this, especially those who self-righteously declare they know what’s best for all the rest of us. I believe that if Barack Obama does not win in 2012, it won’t be so much the economy, which all conventional wisdom is suggesting, but rather because of his unfortunate tendency to scold even members of his own party. Whatever his motives or intentions, it has the appearance of pettiness and solipsism. I also think this is what lost Jimmy Carter his bid for a second term. Remember his “malaise” speech? He came across as the scolding father, and Americans just don’t like that tone. I think it far overshadowed any dissatisfaction with his handling of the Iran hostage crisis. Really smart people, in terms of emotional intelligence, know that constantly reminding people how smart you are just doesn’t work, if you want their support, cooperation, or love and respect.

My personal pet peeve about solipsism is that it leads people to be consistently late, or just not show up. If you believe you are the only worthwhile person on the planet, you will have little or no concern about disappointing people who are waiting for you to show up. You may even choose to not show up at all. I know all the excuses for being late or not showing up, but in decades of my life as a pretty laid-back, self-indulgent, even lazy person–I have never once been late for or not shown up for an appointment or assignment. Now, I may have had an advantage here, in that when I started in radio at the age of nineteen, my boss told me simply that if I were late for my own show, I would find someone sitting at the microphone instead of me, and they might just turn out to be better at it. That got my attention and a lifelong habit of dependability and punctuality was created. I intend to be on time and show up, and therefore I am and I do. Neither rain nor sleet nor dead of night shall deter me in this. And non-solipsist that I am, I truly believe we are all capable of this kind of intentional commitment.

Jerry, The All-Powerful (just kidding, honest!)

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