Pride, arrogance and elitism

We had a client walk out on us yesterday. This happens every now and then, but this one caught my attention a little more than most.

I currently work in aged care, helping people to migrate from hospital to either home or aged care depending on their needs from a step down facility. Of course, that’s the technical name for it all. What I actually do is advocate for the clients best interests, which sometimes align with their wants, but often aligns with their needs.

Most clients work with us, to various extents, to have a mostly mutually agreeable outcome. This is somewhat where we were headed – this client wanted a few more weeks to build her confidence, strength and so on before going back home. It certainly made sense and the additional time was directed by her and conformed closely enough to our professional opinions. Thus an agreement was made.

Let met tell you a little about the client. She went to great lengths to tell us about how intelligent she and her family are, and how amazed people were with them. Yet when I look at their situation and their solutions, I was struggling to see intelligence or even wisdom. This particular client left due to a faulty assumption that they knew the system and become upset when the system did not conform to their whims. We attempted to inform her of how she could adjust her desired method to work within the system that our licensing allows. Unfortunately neither she nor her family were able to hear that.

I have met others of this kind. Generally their elitism belies their actual capabilities, certainly as demonstrated by their actual success and situation in life. This particular family, like many, seemed to have a black and white view of the world – us vs them, we are right thus no one else is, my family is infallible so the problem must be with you. Arrogance is a description that comes to mind when considering these folk. The unfortunate thing is, when it is demonstrated that they are wrong, often their pride blinds them to the evidence, leading them to escalate their response until either you back down, or they damage themselves to prove a false point. This was the case when they walked out. The client refused to admit that she didn’t know the system and made a foolish choice, refused to admit that she had ignored the advice of how to achieve the end she wanted within the system, and thus blamed the staff and system for not working the way she wanted. Her family certainly jumped on the band wagon of blame and also refused to listen to the simple solutions staff offered to achieve the ends they wanted within the system.

So she left.

It intrigues me that this family was in such a compromised lifestyle that they felt compelled to inform people about their greatness. While they might be able to learn certain things quickly, they certainly didn’t seem to reflect this in the choices they make or how they apply their knowledge, leaving me to question whether or not they have understood the data they have taken in.

I also found it intriguing that the family supported itself in their delusions about how the world works, mutually denying evidence if it contradicts their assumptions. This slows down their ability to adapt to circumstances and change. Accepting evidence is really important to adaptation.

Sometimes it is hard to know when evidence is true or false – it is easy for charlatans to proffer faulty evidence to further their goals. In this case, the evidence given had no profit advantage to the giver, nor lack of credentials for the evidence given by, for example, our physio therapist, occupational therapist, social worker, nurse or doctor. Each of us have qualifications and experiencing supporting the evidence that we provide, yet it was denied if it conflicted with the beliefs this family had or the assumptions they had.

I am not referring to religious belief here. I am referring to convenience belief. Once a conflict of belief became evident, the family would immediately act as if the conflict was malicious rather than just a fact. They personalised the conflict and escalated their response to overcome the perceived attack. Yet there was no attack, there was just us working towards a positive outcome.

So what can you do if you are one of these people?

First of all, realise the world is big and complicated. The odds are you aren’t important enough for most people to act against you because of who you are – thus if there is an appearance of people working against you, consider that this is probably a false perception. This isn’t personal, it is just a system that isn’t designed with you in mind. You can try to change the world, or you can find a way to work within the rule set handed to you. By all means, look for an alternate solution to what is offered to you, but don’t get upset if it either doesn’t work or people say “no”. If you aren’t important enough to personally attack, you also aren’t important enough to change a system for.

Next, if you have to tell people that you are intelligent, smart, or noble, then you aren’t. The real proof of these is in your actions and the consequences from this. Be intelligent, be smart, be noble. If you are, then it is obvious and you don’t have to inform the ignorant. If others don’t recognise these qualities in you, either they don’t matter, or you haven’t acted in such a way as to demonstrate it.

By the same token, your actions shouldn’t be geared to demonstrate to people qualities. Children say “Dad! Look at me!” because they want that public recognition. Adults shouldn’t be doing this. If you recognise that you are doing this, it suggests that your ego, that is your sense of self, is externalised rather than internalised. Put in other words, you rely on others telling you that you have worth because you don’t recognise it yourself, or you value their opinion more than you do your own.

Thirdly recognise that the world is not full of dichotomies. There is no us and them, right and wrong, good and evil. Instead the world if full of spectrum’s between us and them, right and wrong, good and evil. Even more, the spectrum isn’t just between two polar opposites, there are side options that can create a palette of options beyond black and white, or black grey and white. Just because the option you want isn’t available in the way you want it doesn’t mean the option isn’t available at all. It may just be that you need to adjust what you want to include some other options.

In short, don’t over extend your importants – it isn’t all about you; if you have to tell people you have certain qualities, then you don’t; and the world is more complex than simple yes and no – surely there is a solution if you are able to accept it.