Our Authentic Selves
What in the Helvetica Font Typeface does that mean!?
We get an image of someone detached from emotions, smiling vacantly, glassy eyes gazing into the clouds with hands in a prayerful pose. This person is living in perfect peace with the Universe. No bugs exist that are too small, large, benign, intrusive, cute, or ugly that the person living his or her authentic self does not love. He or she does not squash the meddling moth making holes in beautiful sweaters, but marvels at the artistic asymmetrical hollows among the weaves of expensive woolens. Of course, well-placed mothballs or cedar chips prevent angst at the little creatures. This authentic person doesn't spray bug killers on thick lines of ants running from the kitchen door to the top shelf, each salivating for its turn at the cereal box. Instead, this person writes them a note, saying, 'Please find food elsewhere and stop intruding on my space,' knowing they will obey since they—the ants—live in higher consciousness. >:-o 'Oops! We didn't mean to intrude. So sawwee.' Then the ants find a more discrete route to the cereal.
Over three decades ago someone did write a book revealing his intimate letters to ant invaders, swearing they did his bidding after laying just one note on the counter top, asking them to leave. I imagine the book was a bestseller long enough for others to try this. It didn't work for me either. Now, Preying Mantis, those are reasonable and smart bugs. Well, maybe not to males of the species, but they are not the least bit intimidated by humans. They boldly walk onto our fingers, tilting their heads and looking us straight in the eye, glad not to be some mindless ant-drones they find so deeeelicious. . . . Shoo! Shoo! Or, some pesky gnat flying near my fingers while I'm trying to type this! SMACK! That'll teach it to incarnate as some annoying gnat who wants to suck my blood! (That stupid gnat gave its life just to become immortalized! 'Well, she's not being her authentic self!')
Our higher self or better nature is what some call our authentic self. Others say it is when we stop faking it and behave as we feel on the inside instead of putting on a face we think the world wants to see.
Oh gosh! We are a country of authentic selves! We are selfish, crass, insensitive louts who let it all hang out! At least that's the case on cable, Jerry Springer's show, and campaign trails.
[I apologize for getting carried away. I'm still intoxicated by Stewart and Colbert's, 'Rally to Restore Sanity, and/or Fear.']
I knew a two-year-old girl whose grandmother weaned her on Jerry Springer. The little girl slapped me once when I mentioned his name. Her father and I assumed it was a conditioned Pavlovian response from watching his show. Who knows, it may have been revulsion to Jerry Springer.
Do we achieve our authentic selves by believing in one religion or another, genuflecting in one gesture or another, wearing one trinket or another? Is it that easy to live an authentic or positive life? Being authentic or positive seems far more difficult to achieve.
Some might think disregarding requests is better than confronting them as this might turn into conversation, leading to possibly having to rethink one's own positions. Surely, this individual feels he or she is being positive. Nothing is so self-sustaining as, always being right and never having to succumb to the humility of admitting being wrong. A negative Nine (9) in the method of No Nonsense Numerology-The Code may have this trait. Wives might say husbands are guilty of this. Ignoring her as though she doesn't exist solves the problem of ever being wrong. The husband surely feels positive and unencumbered with self doubt.
Some might say that being authentic, one doesn't judge or condemn others. Remaining silent and never opening a debate solves the problem of judging or possibly being wrong. So, by doing this, is one really connecting with one's authentic self or manipulating others to his or her will?
Being discerning is important to make proper judgments. We do it all of the time. Knowing which path to walk, one might need prior knowledge. How does one know if living in a vacuum? We need to experience life to learn what life is with all of its complicated imperfections.
Sometimes being our authentic self, means leaving a person, family, job, or situation as well changing our personal behavior. Keeping our Life Force intact doesn't mean giving it over to another who knowingly or unknowingly diminishes it through disregard. When we extend a hand to a friend or relative and he or she rebuffs us, what can we do but let the rope out?
Discussing problems only works when it is scripted. In real life, people close down, they don't politely confront each other with their feelings, perhaps, some remnant from the Victorian Era of genteel times. During those times expressing emotions was a no, no for both sexes. In real life and current times, people more often ignore those with whom they disagree; if only to roll their eyes and sigh in deep disgust unless provoked to say something regrettable. This may only evolve into a yelling match in this Springer Era. Some people don't mind yelling matches, but avoid real discussions, especially rational ones. Possibly, they don't want to discover they might be wrong. Being wrong seems a sin in this society, let alone to acknowledge it.
It might be good practice to make mistakes on a regular basis, say once a week or so, just to get in the habit of apologizing. I'm so good at making mistakes, I don't even need practice anymore. Apologizing for my mistakes is a breeze too. I did it so well for so long that I was sure World War III would be my fault. Incase it shuts down the communication system, I apologize for it now.
Don't think that makes me a pushover. I learned long ago, some people will skirt blame for their bad acts without hesitation. I knew an actor who, when he went up on a line (forgot it), he'd act like other performers goofed up. Now that was a pro, at shifting blame.
Usually, disagreements or arguments are what cause discord in relationships. We don't get into them by ourselves. Someone else or others are usually in the room. I found a way to free myself of the burden of guilt for World War III and everyone else's bad acts: by dividing the blame and only taking full responsibility for my share. The trick is, taking full responsibility. Maybe this will work for others. Here's the simple math. An argument between two people, each must fully accept 50% of the blame; between three people 33 1/3%; four people 25%, and on down the line. The more people in the argument, the less responsibility for it. An argument between millions of people and our responsibility is hardly noticeable! Hum. Do you think that is why politicians don't take responsibility? They think that no one will notice their bad acts.
Armed with the knowledge that we are only responsible for our full share of the blame, how do we open a reasonable dialogue? It is difficult enough when people like and respect each other to have a proper conversation, let alone when those qualities are absent. Perhaps, we can begin by quoting Joan Rivers, 'Can we talk?' That phrase will put some into a defensive mode immediately. However, it sounds so unthreatening that the only reasonable response could be, 'Well, uh, sure. . . . :-s . . . I guess?'
Disarmed of defensiveness, one can only listen with reasonableness. Well, until his or her ego gets in the way, and it may. It may not, but be prepared for the other party to put up a wall. If he or she does this, however, we tried. And, we know more about the party. He or she is a spoiled egotist who wants his or her way no matter what. If we keep returning to reasonableness, however, the other party has to listen. This is difficult because we aren't always reasonable ourselves. I've occasionally fallen into those traps myself.
Sometimes, a conversation is untenable. When we know another enough to realize he or she will emphatically distort or deny the truth, what is the point? When we are sure of a negative encounter, often silence speaks volumes. Necessary silence may force introspection in the other party.
The aphorism about asking forgiveness is easier rather than asking permission makes little sense. People rarely acknowledge hurtful actions. If they do, it's sideways so mistakes may go unnoticed, and by assuaging guilt with trinkets. Personally, I would rather have a direct sincere apology. Acknowledgment means there is a better chance they will never do it again. Practically speaking, it's a lot cheaper.
The title of Elton John's song, 'Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,' certainly reflects reality. Other than forgiving celebrities who crash and burn, people don't readily forgive friends and families.
Hasn't the culture been polluted long enough with 'reality' shows that promote and glorify backstabbing vindictiveness and meanness? So, learning from people who seem adept at communication might be helpful. Contrary to most reality shows, some cooking show contestants and participants communicate with each other masterfully when they do it without berating, but actually encourage and esteem opponents. Wow! That is more to be emulated than how well they cook! Imagine, cheering for an opponent? Some are siblings who know each other well. Even then a twinge of ego slips through, making it obvious hurt feelings could easily surface, but instead they avoid rudeness. So, the entire country isn't going to Helvetica Font Typeface in a handbasket!
Our leaders should take cues from them. When leaders exhibit woeful pettiness, desperately clinging to prosperity, power, and privilege until their fingernails bleed, they diminish the entire country. How can anyone expect civility from the rest of the country? This also applies to those wanting to take over their prosperity, power, and privilege. After all, isn't that what it is all about? Sophisticated white collar criminals figured out how to game the system for personal aggrandizement?
The key in communication may be putting the ego aside and listening with an open mind and heart. Asking forgiveness is what caring and loving people do. When we screw up, we say we're sorry. If the offended parties don't forgive us, we must live with it. But, it isn't our loss. Unfortunately, it's theirs.
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Congratulations to Scott Leuthold. I was privileged to read his manuscript. He has a lot to say that I hope reaches more than just the choir. The world will be better for it.
... stay tuned ...