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What is this… Status Anxiety… ?

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Today I was listening to the Rush Limbaugh show in the background while doing something else.  So, not paying real chose attention – just listening for something interesting.

One of the segments was on why women dislike Sarah Palin.  Why would women – especially women – dislike Sarah Palin?  It would seem to me, on first pass, that Sarah would be a positive role model.  What is there to dislike about her as a role model?

One caller spelled it out.  She (Sarah) is:  too pretty; too successful; she is a good mother; she loves camping; she can hike up a mountain; she can be mom to a special needs child; she is wealthy; she has a regular segment on Fox News; she can hunt and fish and she can field dress a moose.  In short, she can “do it all”.

As the caller said, “What is not to dislike about her?”

Status Anxiety

So the bottom line is that some women dislike Sarah Palin because of her success.  The following segment on Limbaugh was on Status Anxiety.  Folks who are jealous of other people’s success.  I think this book may have been mentioned on the show.  (Sorry, was not listening that close)

This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we’re judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.

We care about our status for a simple reason: because most people tend to be nice to us according to the amount of status we have (it is no coincidence that the first question we tend to be asked by new acquaintances is ‘ What do you do?’). With the help of philosophers, artists and writers, the book examines the origins of status anxiety (ranging from the consequences of the French Revolution to our secret dismay at the success of our friends), before revealing ingenious ways in which people have learnt to overcome their worries in their search for happiness. It aims not only to be entertaining, but wise and helpful as well.

Isn’t it interesting – people who are jealous of other people’s success.  Why?  Didn’t we all start out – when we were born – with “nothing”?  Isn’t it the case that we are the product of every decision we ever made?

If we all start out with nothing and if we are all the product of every decision we ever made then why should anyone be jealous of anyone else without the concomitant understanding that we are responsible for our own success or failure?

If anything, successful people can be role models.  How did they become successful?  What did they do to become successful and how is this different from people who are not successful?  Successful people – rather than people to be derided – can provide an aspirational vision.  That is why we have heroes – people we desire to emulate.  Where would we be without aspirational vision and those successful people that model the way for us?  To be jealous of successful people and dismiss them is to throw away the proven templates of success.

Dealing with Status Anxiety

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Written by frrl

June 10, 2011 at 1:56 am

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