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Commentary :: Human Rights
Just Ensure They Keep Doing A Bad Job Of Hitting You
12 Jun 2013
Overconfidence is a killer. It can ruin people just when they have started doing well, and finish people off before they can even get started. It can turn the want to succeed into the desire to chase short term gratification. It retards a person’s ability to think through all possible outcomes of their actions and can act as blinders at times a person needs a wider focus and larger perspective. It can cause a person to become hesitant and gun shy as a result of losing gains once made, sapping a person of their ability to regain a healthy level of confidence and striking a proper balance there.
In situations of harassment occurring within an institutional setting, be it due to religion, gender or race, overconfidence can be a blessing to the person suffering from the harassment itself. This is not the case however, if in addition to suffering from harassment, they also come down with a bad case of overconfidence. Overconfidence rots a person’s sense of self discipline. It withers their ability to pay attention to details, and it dulls their capacity to remain vigilant over their surroundings, especially concerning the people within those surroundings.

Regarding overconfidence, MIT professor, Andrew Lo, said “Most people are overconfident about their own abilities. That is probably a good thing. But we would be horrified if a physician’s aide engaged in heart surgery.” Overconfidence can be okay in helping a person get through very short spurts in their lives. Yet that comes with risk, as the amount that people allow themselves to take things for granted when operating under the influence of overconfidence, typically leaves huge gaps in the requisite amount of planning and strategizing that can goes into what they do, resulting in unnecessary vulnerabilities.

If a person is working to survive and overcome in a situation of harassment, for whatever reason it is they are being harassed, leaving large holes in their defenses for their harassers to exploit is just bad planning and wrongheadedness. It will become trouble personified sooner or later, and can lead to their harassers getting the better of them and winning in the end. Being overconfident can cause people to take their eye off the ball, as they think to themselves, ‘I got this.’ It is from exactly that point on that they no longer have it. It’s at that point that they begin to lose it.

Surviving and overcoming your harassers requires never ever thinking you have won. You may act like it, in order to cause certain emotions, thought patterns and/or behaviors to arise on the part of your harassers, but you always want to be aware enough of your own thoughts to never let that happen in reality. For the person working to survive and overcome harassment in an institutional setting, that way lies damnation.

Only talk big when it is to evoke a specific reaction from your harassers, one that you have planned for, and that is part of any strategy you intend to launch in order counter those your harassers do. But don’t talk big inside your own head. Make sure you are always aware and realize that at any moment, anything can happen. That’s how it is in a situation of harassment within an institution, and there will never be a moment to rest. You letting your guard down is what your harassers hope and pray for. Did well just now? That is good, yet be prepared for what’s next, ‘cause, until it’s over, there will always be more heat, it’s just a matter of time.

Statistician, Nate Silver, observed, “Almost everyone’s instinct is to be overconfident and read way too much into a hot or cold streak.” There is a flip side to this coin for those trying to find their way through the dense and seemingly endless forest, harassment can be, and that is exploiting the overconfidence of your harassers.

All of us have a tendency to become overconfident, as the experts point out, and harassers are in such a position that they are especially susceptible to becoming overconfident. There are many reasons for this. Among those is the fact that most harassers are obviously insecure people at heart. The fact is, nobody fixates on another person out of jealousy, envy, rage, bitterness or fear (in other words, no real reason), without insecurity being the fungus that feeds their root. For most people that just seems like common sense, but the people that do the harassing often are in denial about this to themselves. That is a liability for them and a great treasure trove to exploit for the observant target of harassment in any given institution.

Harassers tend to choose people they have deemed as weak, people they believe they will have success at getting what they want from, via their harassment. Thus in their minds, they have already labeled that person as beatable, and so they already have set themselves up for becoming overconfident. They typically will view that person that way, and once that person transforms and shifts in their minds to being unable to harass into doing what they want, they usually will draw down their harassment behavior if not stop it altogether. Believe me, I’ve seen it, and experienced it. They only choose people they think they can beat, or get results from. Remember that.

Also, people that harass tend to have others to help them, and more people, and those that are more influential or in greater positions of power than those they harass. That can be a huge liability for them, as I saw firsthand.

So, for the person trying to survive and overcome the harassment, don’t just take for granted your harassers will be overconfident, but look at them and their situation. Analyze and see why they would be if at all. Also see their insecurity, observe it and gauge what specifically they are overconfident about. Where there is more than one thing they are overconfident about, weigh those things. See which things they are more confident about and which not so much. Never go by what they tell you they are overconfident about, go by what you see, whether it is something they told you about or those you observed separately. See it for yourself.

Once you do that, make notes and strategize and plan your moves accordingly. For the person going through harassment, overconfidence is something that can hurt you if you suffer from it. But it can also help you if you correctly locate places it exists in your harassers. As astronaut Neil Armstrong pointed out, “when you get overconfident, that’s when something snaps up and bites you.” Stay focused, stay humble and remain vigilant, and try not to let them know you are any of those things.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to
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