All societies and cultures have certain spoken and unspoken rules that influence how we judge people, label them, and rank their overall “value” in society.
Those who we typically perceive as “high value” (like CEOs, celebrities, athletes, politicians, good-looking people, etc.) we place at the top of our social hierarchy, while those we typically perceive as low value fall to the bottom of our social hierarchy.
When we view others through these social hierarchies, it often inhibit us from connecting with others in a healthy way.
This is because often when we pass a judgment on others of what we perceive their value to be, we are simultaneously comparing ourselves (and our own perceived value, or self-worth) to that other person.
If you perceive someone as having extraordinarily high value, then you must automatically see yourself as somehow inferior when compared to this other person. And this perceived difference in value can then cause you to act and think in desperate and needy ways so that you can “prove yourself” to the other person.
And if you perceive someone as having extraordinarily low value, then you must automatically see yourself as somehow superior when compared to this other person. And this perceived difference in value can then cause you to act and think in cruel or mean ways because you don’t see the other person as “on your level.”
From both standpoints, these social hierarchies can hurt how we connect with people. A much better alternative, is to try your best to see everyone as equals regardless of their perceived “social status.”
Because at the end of the day, “value” is a subjective thing. What is valuable to one person may not be what is valuable to someone else.
Maybe someone doesn’t value nice cars, fancy clothes, and a big mansion, but they do value being nice toward others and working hard. Society may tell you they aren’t as “valuable” a person because they don’t have as much success, money, or fame, but they are just as worthy of respect as anyone else.
It’s important to remember that value is subjective, because then it helps you see how all social hierarchies are really fictional in the end, and they are only a product of our minds and our own mental boundaries when we look at the world.
Throw out the social hierarchy mentality: People are just people
For many people, we’d benefit more if we put less emphasis on these social hierarchies and how they influence our relationships.
People are just people. We have much more in common with others than we think. And by being less judgmental of others (and ourselves), we begin to see and treat everyone as equals.
In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you are talking to someone who is really rich vs. someone who is really poor, or someone who is really good-looking vs. someone who is really ugly, or someone who is really popular vs. someone who isn’t well known at all. Every individual deserves your attention and respect, and there’s no real reason to be more nervous or anxious around one person over someone else.
For example, a socially anxious guy may see a really hot girl at a bar and think “She’s really out of my league. Why would she want to talk to me?” This is just another type of social hierarchy that stands in our way. But if you can see everyone as equal, then there’s nothing “special” about one person over another.
When you begin to see and treat everyone as equals, it’s much easier to start building relationships left and right. Your social circle grows and grows, because you no longer worry or discriminate about these fictional boundaries anymore. And once these silly social hierarchies are ignored, everyone becomes a potential friend.
Discover more tools to daily growth in the digital guide The Science of Self Improvement