214: How to escape the bottom of the pecking order

214: How to escape the bottom of the pecking order

Welcome to this episode of our short daily podcast - A Slice of Therapy.

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With Alun Parry https://liverpoolpsychotherapy.co.uk

Autogenerated Transcript

00:01
you’re listening to a slice of therapy
00:03
with me alun parry
00:06
[Music]
00:11
so today i want to talk about the
00:13
importance to human beings of position
00:16
and pecking order so let me give you an
00:19
example to kick it off
00:21
this is a an experiment a study that’s
00:23
been done this question has been asked
00:25
of people
00:27
and so i’m going to ask it of you to see
00:28
what comes up for you
00:30
i’m gonna give you a choice between two
00:33
different worlds
00:35
that you can choose to occupy you can
00:38
either choose world a
00:40
or you can choose world b
00:44
now in these worlds that you’re going to
00:47
have
00:48
a city maybe like the one you live in
00:50
now
00:52
and within the city it’s going to be
00:53
there’s going to be your neighborhood
00:56
now in your neighborhood you and your
00:59
immediate neighbors all live in the same
01:01
size houses as each other
01:03
but in terms of the neighborhoods that
01:05
surround you
01:08
you’ve got a surrounding neighborhood as
01:10
well
01:11
so you’ve got your city you’ve got you
01:13
and your neighbors with the same size
01:15
houses each other
01:16
and then you’ve got a surrounding set of
01:18
neighborhoods in the city as well
01:20
so let me tell you the actual details of
01:22
these two worlds
01:24
now in the first world you get to have
01:28
an
01:28
average sized house and of course like i
01:32
just said your neighbors
01:34
around you all have the same size house
01:36
as well so in your neighborhood
01:38
you’ve got an average size house and so
01:40
is everybody else but
01:42
in the surrounding areas
01:45
everyone’s houses are smaller than yours
01:51
so your house is average size like your
01:52
neighbors but all the other
01:53
neighborhoods
01:55
they’ve got a smaller house than you so
01:58
that’s world one
02:00
in world two well
02:04
you’ve got a much bigger house in world
02:06
two and of course some of your neighbors
02:08
because
02:09
in your neighborhood you all have the
02:10
same size houses so in world 2
02:12
compared to world one you have got a
02:15
much bigger house
02:16
but unlike in the first world
02:21
all the surrounding neighborhoods have
02:23
got bigger houses than you
02:26
so let’s go through that again in the
02:27
first world you and your neighbors have
02:29
got an average size house but in the
02:31
rest of the city
02:32
the rest of the city have smaller houses
02:34
than you
02:35
in the second world you and your
02:37
neighbors have got bigger houses
02:41
but the surrounding areas everyone else
02:43
in the city has got an
02:45
even bigger house than you so first
02:48
world
02:49
average house size but your
02:51
neighborhood’s got the biggest size in
02:52
the city
02:54
second world you’ve got a much bigger
02:56
house in the first world
02:58
but smaller than everybody else in the
03:00
city outside of your neighborhood
03:02
and the question is which world would
03:04
you choose would you choose that were
03:06
first world or would you choose the
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second where you do get a bigger house
03:13
but you’re the smallest size houses in
03:15
the city
03:18
now if you answered that you’d take
03:21
the average size house
03:25
in a neighborhood that has therefore the
03:28
biggest houses in the city
03:30
then that’s what most people pick people
03:33
choose
03:35
the first world even though the size of
03:37
the house that they will be living in
03:40
is actually smaller is actually more
03:43
cramped
03:44
and the reason why they do that is they
03:47
don’t want to be living in the
03:48
neighborhood
03:50
with the smallest houses in the city
03:52
thank you very much
03:53
even if that house was in absolute terms
03:58
bigger than the one they’ve chosen
04:00
they’d rather be in a smaller sized
04:02
house
04:04
but know that their neighborhood
04:08
had the largest houses in the city that
04:10
whenever they went to another
04:11
neighborhood
04:12
they’d realize that everyone else had
04:14
smaller houses
04:16
and it’s interesting is that because
04:19
people then
04:19
are prepared to give away those
04:22
kind of things that an economist would
04:24
think is like a big individual benefit
04:27
and the rational person would always
04:29
choose
04:29
the biggest amount of space to live in
04:31
but no
04:33
because we are social creatures we’re
04:35
very very attuned
04:37
to our position to the pecking order
04:40
and there’s been other studies like this
04:42
so if i said you can either earn
04:43
thirty thousand a year and everyone else
04:47
ends fifteen or i’ll wh
04:50
is to sixty but everyone else earns a
04:52
hundred thousand
04:55
people prefer to be on 30 000
04:59
in a world where everyone else is on 15.
05:02
people will
05:03
choose position and pecking order
05:06
even 30 000 pounds worth
05:10
so why is this important to kind of take
05:12
note of well it’s important because
05:15
it’s clear then our place in the pecking
05:18
order can make us feel miserable and
05:20
there’s
05:21
all sorts of studies to back this up to
05:23
but i’m reminded of a
05:25
story i was told see i know somebody who
05:28
went to
05:29
eaton the famous public school very
05:31
privileged public school but i know
05:33
somebody who went there
05:35
and one of the things that they did was
05:38
that they would list
05:40
the boys names of in that year in a
05:42
ranking
05:43
on the wall so you’d be able to go to
05:46
the wall and you’d see the names of
05:49
you know over 100 boys maybe there and
05:52
you’d be able to see your own name on
05:53
that list
05:54
in terms of where you were ranked out of
05:57
all the boys in your year
06:00
and he was saying to me and the person i
06:02
know went to eat and he said that
06:04
somebody who he knows is now a grown man
06:07
he can’t even say the name of the school
06:10
it’s so upsetting and the upsetting
06:13
element is because
06:15
he was one of those boys whose name was
06:19
always near the bottom of that list
06:23
and so there it was on the wall and he’d
06:25
look
06:26
as that list was updated and he would
06:28
always be there
06:29
near the bottom of the list and the
06:31
impact on his self-esteem was so big
06:34
that it’s still traumatic to this day
06:37
even
06:38
to mention the name of the school now my
06:40
guess is
06:42
if he’d have been consistently listed at
06:44
the top
06:45
he developed either felt very positive
06:47
instead
06:50
so the pecking orders seem to be very
06:54
important then but the saving grace
06:57
is that unlike it eaten there isn’t just
07:00
one list
07:01
there are many many many pecking orders
07:06
and it reminds me of a story that the
07:08
educationalist ken robinson tells
07:11
of jillian lim now jillian
07:14
lynn was the choreographer of the hit
07:17
musical cats
07:19
so she was the choreographer of that but
07:22
she actually didn’t do very well at
07:24
school in that particular pecking order
07:27
of sit down and listen and regurgitate
07:30
facts
07:31
she was way down she wasn’t doing well
07:33
at her tests
07:34
she couldn’t concentrate in class they
07:36
even sent us to a psychologist to see
07:38
what was wrong with her
07:39
and the psychologist said well there’s
07:41
nothing wrong with her she’s a dancer
07:44
because the psychologist could see how
07:46
jillian lynn was moving and how her body
07:48
was always
07:49
alive to movements and music that was
07:52
going on in the room and so suddenly
07:55
she was at dance school and the rest is
07:58
history
07:59
and so on this pecking order of sit down
08:02
and listen and regret regurgitate facts
08:05
she was very low down on that pecking
08:07
order but on the dance packing order
08:09
that was a different matter entirely
08:13
and so when we feel down on ourselves
08:15
and our self-esteem is suffering
08:19
we can often feel like we’re you know
08:21
that’s often motivated by feeling as if
08:23
we’re low down
08:24
on pecking orders that have been chosen
08:27
by other people for us so imagine if
08:29
like
08:30
jillian lim we were able to choose the
08:33
pecking order
08:34
that we get to focus on so
08:39
think of all the things for instance
08:42
that you can actually do think of all
08:44
the things that you
08:46
enjoy think of all the personal
08:48
qualities
08:49
and characteristics think of the things
08:52
that come
08:53
easy to you you know and
08:57
ask yourself what is it what are those
09:01
areas where
09:02
you’re you’re probably better than most
09:06
you know there’s things you like about
09:08
yourself that you think well
09:10
i probably have that characteristic more
09:13
than most
09:15
and so to give you some examples you
09:17
know maybe you know more than most about
09:19
football
09:20
maybe you’re really interested in stamps
09:23
maybe you notice that you’re probably
09:27
more determined than most people are
09:30
whatever it happens to be you don’t have
09:31
to be the best you don’t have to be a
09:33
world beater you just need to be in the
09:35
top half because once you notice the
09:39
pecking orders
09:40
that you’re in the top half of then just
09:43
like jillian lynn you can focus
09:45
on those just like she did
09:51
so to recap then the first thing that we
09:53
saw is that we’re social creatures and
09:55
because
09:56
we’re social creatures we’ll choose a
09:58
pecking order
10:00
and a higher place in the pecking order
10:03
even over things like a bigger sized
10:05
house to live in
10:06
or 30 000 pounds a year more to spend
10:10
and we saw as well how being low in the
10:12
pecking order feels miserable and
10:13
damaging to our self-esteem like those
10:15
awful lists
10:17
at the school of eaton but on the plus
10:20
side we also realize that
10:23
there’s an infinite number of these
10:24
pecking orders
10:26
there’s an infinite number of these
10:27
lists so we can choose the ones to
10:30
ignore and which ones to focus on
10:33
and we saw a great example of that
10:35
didn’t we in terms of jillian lynn
10:37
the choreographer of the musical cats
10:40
who was low on one pecking order
10:44
that if she had allowed others to
10:47
choose for air and focus on might have
10:50
felt very miserable about but
10:52
was actually high on the on the other
10:54
back in order of dance
10:56
and so what happened then is once she
10:58
noticed
11:00
which pecking order she was in the top
11:01
half of
11:03
the other ones actually became
11:05
irrelevant
11:08
so we looked at a quick way in which we
11:10
can kind of check in
11:11
on those for ourselves like how can we
11:13
do that for ourselves
11:16
and we saw that by just noticing and
11:18
focusing
11:19
on where we’re simply better than most
11:21
not well beaters
11:23
doesn’t have to be that but simply
11:24
better than most
11:26
allows us to connect with pecking orders
11:30
where we’re in the top half of and then
11:34
we can focus on those because
11:38
what that allows us to do then is ensure
11:40
that we don’t judge
11:41
ourselves based on pecking orders
11:44
that others choose for us you see those
11:47
pecking orders where we’re not in the
11:49
top half
11:52
for someone like jillian lim they just
11:54
became irrelevant
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and there are so many pecking orders
11:57
available that we can choose to make
12:00
many of those irrelevant for us too
12:04
and focus instead on the ones we’re at
12:07
the top off
12:08
because when we’re really connected
12:12
to the best of ourselves when we allow
12:15
ourselves to choose the pecking orders
12:18
then that’s going to have an impact on
12:21
our sense of ourselves
12:23
and our self-esteem as well
12:26
so if you like this idea or you’re
12:28
interested or it’s brought anything up
12:29
then
12:30
let me know what it brought up you can
12:32
write to me at info at
12:34
alunparry.com it’s a-l-u-n spelt the
12:37
welsh way so that’s
12:38
info at alunparry.com let me know what
12:40
comes up for you
12:42
or what you’d like me to talk about in
12:43
future even and of course you can
12:45
subscribe to the podcast completely free
12:48
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12:49
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12:51
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12:52
one-to-one i’m alun and you can find out
12:55
more at liverpool psychotherapy dot co
12:57
dot uk
12:58
so thanks for listening i’ll be back
12:59
again tomorrow with another one

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