Honesty and Authenticity

“Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering” – Carl Jung

Have you ever been asked how something was going and you responded with “good”? Have you ever felt that they seemed to magically interpret good as meaning something other than good? Last I checked, good means good. And even if it didn’t, why should someone be seemingly dissatisfied by how you feel things are? What are they, the feelings police?

I think this ties into the robot barbie mentality that seems to resonate in our culture. I think part of this may be because of the excessive amounts of sugar-coating, sweeping problems under the carpet and conflict avoidance that goes on between people. It has come to the point where basically anything that isn’t filled with rainbows and Care Bears is a potential trigger for anxiety. It is like you have to walk on egg shells and dodge around the truth like an obstacle course built for the Avengers simply to avoid offending people by stating facts, observations and opinions based on them. That said, I also have a tendency to come across as a bit blunt, so it is partially a matter of perspective.

I think that the ripple effect of the social pressure to always fake pleasantries and cheerfulness can be destructive. I think it compels people to put a mask on and pretend to be someone they are not. I think it can more greatly alienate people when they aren’t in the best place and can create a stigmatization and sense of shame around that. This is a concern when an estimated 1 in 4 American adults have a diagnosable mental disorder. This doesn’t even include unhealthy mindsets the DSM doesn’t recognize. Maybe if people felt safe being themselves, we wouldn’t have such an alarming rate of mental illness.

I’m not saying we should take being “honest” as an excuse to be a jerk. I’m also not saying we shouldn’t get offended by things we find offensive. I just think a little bit of authenticity and acceptance could go a long way. Don’t tell people their subjective viewpoint is wrong. It doesn’t make sense to objectify and create rules around things that are subjective in nature. The facts are objective, but their personal meaning is not. Maybe we should try to understand rather than judge every once in a while and see what happens. I highly doubt it would create more discord than harmony.

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Perfect is Boring

There are countless articles, books and other forms of advice on how to improve yourself. They give you these set of rules on how to live your life to be what they consider a better person. They share their secrets to success in careers, health, relationships and more. They tell you to do this and do that. Some even tell you which people to allow into your life and which ones you should throw out like human garbage. But there is a bit of an undertone in this advice of “you aren’t good enough” or “you need to be fixed”. While like many people, I want to be the best version of myself… I’ve also come to realize the absurdity and self-absorption of it all (sometimes I forget). I think accepting some of these little so-called flaws and quirks are key to really being human.

So many aspects of our life revolve around judging. We judge others. Other people judge us. We adapt our behaviors and goals accordingly. We determine our self-worth and the worth of others based on our ability to adapt ourselves in alignment with those judgements. While judgements have a value, sometimes I think we are excessively influenced by them. What if we learned out of curiosity rather than because we feel obligated to get better grades? What if we chose our romantic relationships based on love rather than”practical” reasons? What if we didn’t give a shit about the conventional definition of success and did what we really wanted instead? I don’t think it would make society fall apart, I think it would make things more balanced.

If we keep looking at people through a lens of how they are “good/bad”, how can we expect to actually connect with them? How can we expect to have genuine relationships with people if we are constantly trying to assess if they are “good enough” and are constantly distracting ourselves in some way or another with those judgments? It is one thing to acknowledge the characteristics of a person and consider what that means, but I think in excess they can distract us from truly connecting with them. I think this may play a role in a deficiency of true compassion for both ourselves and others.

I think the only way we would be completely flawless in everyone’s eyes was if everybody didn’t give a shit about anything at all. Collective apathy doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

Flaws are beautiful. They are what make us human beings and not human fucking robot barbies.