5 character features of Polish mentality which limit our potential


One day a Pole drives a car and suddenly, somebody cuts him off. The Pole thinks ‘What a moron!’ He speeds up to check it out. He drives up, looks daggers at the other driver and checks him out. ‘Indeed, he is a moron’ He leaves him smiling victoriously. Ring a bell? That’s the beginning. Today, the limitations of Polish mentality.

There are factors which influence our quality of life: economic, ecological, political and cultural ones. The first factors describe our living conditions from the perspective of the money we earn, the second ones include the environment we live in, the third ones define the quality of people who exercise power, the fourth ones are based on personality, history, health and mentality. Each of them is equally essential and plays a key role in the development of the social quality of life. However, each of them is not equally developing. Provided that ecological and economic issues are becoming popular and people make aware of them, the problem doesn’t concern culture factors.

Polish mentality significantly stands out from other factors and the lack of education do not put any emphasis on it. It leads to the potential limitation of Poles  and decreases their happiness level and satisfaction with their life. The change of this mentality is a key challenge for politicians, teachers, organizations and opinion-forming media and first and foremost– for each of us. Otherwise, we are dragged into the mess of haters, our wings are clipped by envy and distrust of everyone who achieves success. It is a waste of intellectual  and economic potential that we have as a nation.
There are 5 character features of Polish mentality which limit our potential:

1. Everyone wants to use me.

The report of social status conducted by Janusz Czapliński displays that 12% of Poles agree that it is possible to trust most of people ( in comparison to Dennmark, there are over 66%). According to 16% of our patriots, people are helpful. But still, in spite of changing a political system there is still a lack of trust for each other and the country itself.  A shop assistant is a con man for Kowalski, a rich man is a thief, a politician lies, a psychologist mixes in our heads and the television itself lies. Only 46% of Poles see good intentions in actions of their workmates. It is generally believed that another person wants to cheat us. It only leads to insane suspicion and stops the development which is impossible nowadays because of aversion to cooperation and mutual distrust for each environment.

Regardless of age, education and the degree of affluence, everyone gives an impetus to a spiral. Distrustful journalists are mainly focused on negative news, they create an illusion of a dangerous world inundated with terror, war and deceptions. Teachers’ scare tactics lead to test failure and opinion leaders write about “the Polish-Polish war”.  Distrustful parents who are distorted by social pathology arouse unconsciously distrust in their children by sayings such as: “don’t count your chickens before they are hatched”, “play it safe”, “look before you leap”. These common sayings come from the communism system and are passed down from one generation to another. In this way, the youth is under influence of this type of mentality which doesn’t match to this reality since trust is of a great value here. When a child is rude in Mexico, his mother talks to him in this way: if you were rude, someone would take you. The secret is how this motivation influences the fact that the number of kidnapping is the highest in the world there.

Distrust does not improve our social capital, it does not enable the building of proper relations, it destroys cooperation and attempts to achieve goals connected with the economic development. There is a need for a loud and systematic message which stresses that it is possible to earn honest money, mean well and wish other people all the best, be happy with other’s successes and achievements, support positively not only sportsmen but also entrepreneurs and unknown people, treat each other with respect and kindness. This message should be a task for public opinion. Instead of giving the society what they allegedly like  (here: bust of celebrities), the media should take some educational steps and build a social capital which will sustain an economic development, introduce a positive attitude towards life and increase its quality in the long term.

2. Money is a taboo subject.

In India, women during their menstruation cannot touch cows, in Ghana, women cannot enter the house of men, and muslim women cannot pray. In Thailand, the loss of face (reputation) is worse than death so if a guest in a restaurant got the dish he didn’t deserve, it’s better not to comment on a waiter. In Japan, it’s better not to express your emotions because it is in bad taste. However, for French chewing a gum is vulgar. And which taboo subject does exist in Poland?  Money.

According to 75% of Poles, it is possible to earn a large sum of money by acquaintances or deception. 20% of respondents state that the rich are a thief. Poles do not also talk about money (according to the report TNS Polska for pracuj.pl) – the half of respondents is ashamed of that, 30% of them feel exposed and 20% is afraid of talking about money. 48% have never asked for a rise but 1% of them is satisfied with their earnings. It is still believed that the rich steal and the poor are victims (it doesn’t matter who is blamed for: bad government, greedy entrepreneurs, a bad boss, bad luck, etc.) We cannot find Polish equivalents for “the first million should be stolen” or “the rich are a thief” in other languages. Therefore, it is not appropriate to boast about the money a Pole earns. He belittles his financial success ( he says that he fails, instead of giving repeatable success strategies) or he fears of social rejection.

The aspect above is connected with a dichotomy of happiness and success which does not allow Kowalski to combine spiritual wealth with material one. A common Pole associates happiness with family, relation and his existence, and the success itself with higher positions, attraction and financial resources. These two aspects are divided from each other because the Pole believes that rich people are surely not happy.  The belief that money does not bring happiness is dysfunctional when it comes to debts or a debt collector who is knocking on the door and the sense begins from the moment when financial needs are fulfilled. The mems below present a hidden message which deprives money of the role which acts as a contributing factor to happiness.


[Picture1] [My father is rich and mine plays with me.]

[Picture2] [ There is only one way to be rich in your life. It is necessary to meet fine people.]

The solution is to promote the education of society and to present economic Polish success next to sport one and to present honest figures who combine happiness and material success as people who worth following. The key constitutes the position of media. Instead of presenting earnings as breaking news, the subject should be popularized as a natural part of a human life. The society talking openly about earnings can find solutions efficiently and effectively on the matter regarding money. People who have a business intelligence and are enterprising will gain a stimulus to share their success proudly. Because we have a reason for that! Poland has in the 25th place in respect to dollar millionaires (Poland has more millionaires than Dubai). It is estimated that this phenomenon will grow from 50 thousand to 126 thousand in number within next 5 years. There are more people from younger generation who didn’t get a financial support from their parents and they do not “deceive”. Their intelligence should be exposed.

3. If it is not bad, it is good.

A statistical Pole uses a reactive motivation by taking steps for solving existing problems. Their lack causes that their state is a target state. Lack of disease symptoms means that he is healthy ( a contradiction: 50% of society suffer from high blood pressure and they don’t know that they are susceptible to heart diseases).  Food is allegedly good enough when he will not suffer from a stomach upset. Lack of debts is treated by many people as a target state but it should also be an individual definition of wealth.

Reactive attitude towards life means a reaction to a problem and lack of the constructive building of world, which in the future we want to live in. It decreases individual life standards. Lack of debts is not a state of wealth, lack of disease does not mean that you are healthy, a shouting parent is not good enough, a non-drinking husband should not be a target standard and food that does not boost our metabolism is not be tasty. These low standards are sorely used by unethical corporations ( it is not a secret that food products in an international chain of shops in Poland are of a worse quality than their equivalents abroad) but grudges against them would be shifting a responsibility onto Poles who should take this responsibility and expect that a cheap product is better.  We pass a sale verdict against us, deluding that a high quality comes together with little money.

If it is not bad, is not also good. This “good” is far enough. The reactive attitude in order to eliminate problems is a historical habit. Defensive actions have been taken by Poles over the last few years. Therefore, the nation gathers together when the mutual enemy will appear and when he disappears, the nation destroys itself. The problem of a reactive attitude is a lack of problems which we have to find. As a result, a Pole attacks another Pole and he is not able to unite with a common vision.  It is possible to count politicians on the fingers of one hand who can talk about themselves and their political program, instead of attacking others. Presenting that someone else is stupid makes us to be wiser.  If we accused somebody of theft, we would be considered an honest person. This cognitive mistake limits the mental social development which is focused on denying problems and it is not concentrated on the target reality.

The solution demands a broaden educational action and change in a motivational  system of a Pole, from getting rid of problems to quest for creating the target reality of a wealth. We should change the belief in the category of health and not lack of diseases, wealth and not lack of poverty, love and not arguing. It will also demand a change in sharing information by media, from negative to almost positive one.  It is necessary to teach workers to bring solutions and diagnose problems as well. There should also be a change in thinking from what we don’t want to what we want.

4. Poland – it’s me not us.

According to the report by Eurostat, Poles have no one character feature of civic society. 40% of them state that breaking into public property doesn’t concern them. Cheating on exam or avoiding taxes is treated as an example of being sly and intelligent and not as robbing their own country. Socially, a Pole has grown up not to throw fags on the pavement. It is a time for investing in a collective concept. We are the society of individual players who forget about victory for the whole team because it is caused by our own egocentrism.  These players want to be individual stars but it does not always lead to the victory of the whole team. Following the pyramidal model by David Logan (Tribal Leadership), people can be divided into 5 groups. The first one is always nagging about everything, the second one states that something is wrong with them, the third one yells : I am god, the fourth one yells: we are gods and the fifth one says : the world is beautiful. The first group is based on people who are still complaining and shift their failures on everyone, except from them. The second one take this responsibility noticing their weak sides and they gain resources by working on themselves. In a metaphoric way, they enter the egocentric group: I am a god. But it is not the level of team playing but it is a building of your own personality (often at someone’s expense). Organization, leading groups and acting as part of team occurs only on the fourth level. The fifth group knows that everyone should play together. They are focused on improving  life quality on the whole planet.
The model above also displays levels of consciousness of tribes, nations, cultures or organizations. Poles start avoiding complaining and blaming somebody and start creating their own life. They do not think in the category “Poland” but “I”. Emigrants ( currently 2.2 mln ) do not leave Poland only because of financial reasons. Killing go-getting energy, destroying signs of success, permanent and pathological phenomenon of hating, which is neglected, complaining and envy are mental factors which we are individually responsible for.  We have grudges against politicians who try to figure out in filling up petrol but at the same time, according to the recent report of Eueler Hermes, almost 80% of Polish companies is robbed by people who work there . We comment on people who took part in a tape scandal because they cursed. According to the report of CBOS, 80% of Poles curse. Politicians constitute a generalized group of the Kowalskis family which is created by each of us, who look at the mirror and ask a fundamental question about being Polish. The sum of individual deeds creates something which we should rely on: Poland. It is time to change a collective mindset and build a country which everyone wants to live in. Let’s stop blaming politicians for being a person like the rest of our country.

5. The effect of moron.

One day a Pole drives a car and suddenly, somebody cuts him off. The Pole thinks ‘What a moron!’ He speeds up to check it out. He drives up, looks daggers at the other driver and checks him out. ‘Indeed, he is a moron’ He leaves him smiling victoriously. In psychology this effect is called “the self-fulfilling prophecy”. It relies on a person who believes in something, chooses these parts from the reality which allows him to prove this thesis. Does this driver know? No, his self-consciousness of emotions and thinking mechanisms are on a low level. Does it destroy the belief that a Pole is always right ? Also, no. He is illusorily convinced that he knows everything. He commits a cardinal sin of ignorance: he rejects something that he has no idea about.

It is very easy to be a moron in Poland. It is sufficient to park your car in a wrong way, inflect incorrectly a word, make a typo in a text. We don’t forgive mistakes because our self-esteem is based on theoretical knowledge (intellect). Mexicans base on family, Brazilians ( the highest rate of plastic surgery and going to a gym) on appearance, Americans – on agency. This fetish for holding a master’s degree (there will be 50% of people who will hold MA degree in Poland within recent years according to the report of OECD) leads to titles which are based on knowledge from books  and not life experience. Cynicism and mannerism is visible in the Internet, especially in comments between users from “a higher class” as well as primitive insults among haters. It covers a fundamental human kindliness and belief in good deeds . Pointing out mistakes leads to endless proving our right and it causes a fear of committing them. Hence, there is only one step no to take actions while belief: if I am not agree with you, you mistake constitute a cognitive mistake. Opinion differences should develop ourselves not lead to dispute.

Such huge emphasis put on academic education covers the real picture of requirements on the job market where soft skills are superior than hard skills. In Poland, selling is brushed off but in the world it is mentioned as the fifth most important skills of workers. In England, there are 80% of companies which use coaching and in Poland only  15%. The country is lack of branding associated with real resources which describe Poles like brevity, good knowledge of English ( currently, we are in the 6th place in the world), education and enterprise. We need to sell our knowledge and skills, we need to talk about themselves proudly and loudly. If we didn’t do that, a Polish student would wait for menial jobs in England not because he lacks education but he lacks belief in themselves and lacks knowledge about market discernment.

Start trusting other people and see good intentions in others.
Learn to talk about money and combine material success with happiness.
Replace negative comments with positive ones which contain constructive conclusions.
Take responsibility for our country and start building Poland from you, where you want to live in.
Build self-esteem not only based on education but also on effectiveness, enterprise, relation of other soft skills.

Changing these 5 things, we change our mentality.  It will also change the way of growing up children. These children will create a better country for all of us. Maybe a real patriotism starts at our home when we look at the mirror.




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