Friday, July 7, 2017

Cutting the Crap: A Follow-Up To Clashing Clichés, Catch-Phrases, and Cover-Ups

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



Recently I wrote a post titled: Clashing Clichés, Catch-Phrases, and Cover-Ups. The gist of the writing had to do with many people’s inability to walk their talk.

This hadn’t been meant in the sense of the effort people make to be helpful, kind, etc. but often coming up short—this is understandable behavior since it’s deeply ingrained and not easy to overcome. What had been meant, instead, had to do with the hypocritical usage of fancy phrases to hide, essentially from ourselves, negative aspects of ourselves that we don’t care to face.

Here I elaborate on the “cover-up” portion of the original post (though the concepts can be applied to all of them).

Recollecting…

In the original post I’d written the following:
A third and final consideration is what could be described as a flagrant cover-up. No, it’s not so flagrant to those who are upholding the same, but these things are pretty obvious to me, and I suspect they’re probably quite evident to many others.

A super-prevalent example of this is, “I’m doing well.” In the US, we have the sickest and fattest population in the world, the middle class is drastically shrinking, our unemployment rate is through the roof, we’ve got astronomical debt, and on and on.

“How are you, Ken?”

“I’m doing great. Yeah. Really. Can’t complain!”

The majority of the time (at least from my own observation and experience), this is crap. The happiness and such is manufactured. People are generally so unsatisfied. So many people are constantly complaining, judging others, eating abusively, hiding in their phones, and so on, and yet if asked how they’re doing they put on a smile and tell you, “I’m doing well these days,” or, “Can’t complain, you know? Just graduated, I’ve got a good job, [and blah, blah, blah].”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but at least for me, I so often hear people say these things and I get thinking like, Wait just one damn minute… The last 46 times I saw you you were complaining like mad. Now I just heard you bitching for 10 minutes about how lousy your job is, you look like you don’t sleep and eat right, [and blah, blah, blah.] What gives?”

Anyway, take it for what it’s worth. My experience and observation has shown me a great deal of fakery. Maybe that’s not your experience at all, maybe it is, or maybe it doesn’t seem to be yet but you’ll see it so when you clear out any of your own toxic needs for false clichés, catch-phrases, and cover-ups.
Let me now expand on the above thoughts. I intend to provide further clarity and offer suggestion, from personal experience, as to why cover-ups may be far less necessary than we’d think.

Expanding…

The first point I want to make is that if someone isn’t doing so hot, I’m not suggesting they have to get negative in any way when asked how they’re doing.

Automatically, because peoples’ beliefs are often so distorted, it’s very easy to get trapped in the belief that we’re being negative by telling someone, “I’m having a lousy day.” Such rationale is garbage. If someone asks how we’re doing and we state a simple but maybe displeasing-to-other truth of how we’re doing, such is called honesty. If someone isn’t willing to be open to that as a possible answer, they shouldn’t be asking the question. (Also, bear in mind if in the receiver’s shoes that the same mentality will cause us to perceive the other's response as "negative" when in fact we’re blaming them for our own reactive discomfort.)

In order for a response to be negative, we have to be wallowing in it; we have to tell someone we’re feeling lousy and then, feeling bad that we’ve probably upset someone since we’re “supposed” to be happy, attempt to justify our position with a sobby victim story. “Oh, but see. I know I’m supposed to be happy but just look at me. My car is in the shop again, they treat me like crap at work, someone stole my lawn furniture three weeks ago, and now my phone won’t access the internet properly so I’m unable to avoid my life discomforts by looking at cute kitten pictures all day.” (Which is not slander against cute kittens, mind you. They’re adorable little creatures, and I wish I had 400 of them.)

The sob story has to go. All it is is us trying to affirm, affirm, and reaffirm to ourselves, via chatting with another, why it’s “okay” that we don’t take personal responsibility. If we’re not going to do this, we’d be better off not speaking at all… The latter of which, I do acknowledge, will probably not happen—the more we shut down to inner-truth, the harder it is to keep quiet.

Otherwise, I would much rather that if someone’s feeling lousy they at least attempt to be honest about it: “It’s been rough lately,” or, “I’ve been better,”—even just, “I’m okay,” is better. I know fake smiling and saying, “I’m good, yeah, good, good,” can really rack up our approval ratings with a lot of folks, but I can promise you that when people lie to me they’re not scoring any Brownie Points.

They’re going to give themselves away anyway, just as they always do. As being discussed here, this may come through speech littered with catchy, all-is-wonderful phrases. Alternately, and happening so commonly that we see little if any problem with it, there’s complaining, getting intoxicated, eating like gluttons, and so on (and worse in some cases). The walk does not align with the talk. There’s clearly something wrong internally when we have to vampire energy from others and take part in destructive behaviors.

Maybe we fear that someone will promptly ask, “Oh. What’s wrong?” and we won’t want to say. Don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, you know? It’s easier to greet happily at the door and wait to pull out the sob story until everyone’s settled in or someone asks directly how it’s going with the job, wife, dog, chimney, or didgeridoo lessons.

Why not tell them it’s not their business? If that seems too ballsy, then we can figure something else out ahead of time. “I don’t like talking about it,” perhaps. Or, “I’d rather not say.” Even if we’re responding to our great-grandfather, maybe we could make a joke and say what a parent might tell a child as to a touchy subject, “I’ll tell you when you’re a little older.” Still pressed uncomfortably, it could just be life placing us into a position in which we're being "forced" to either open up or grow up. When we get lazy about making choices, life has no problem making the choices for us—and they're rarely comfortable.

Whatever the case, there are other ways. Easier, saner, more honest ways. I wouldn’t be writing this had experience not made it clear.

Opening…

Personally, I’ve found that when I take the sob story out, and when I direct things toward myself, it’s a lot easier for me to share what’s up. What I mean by this I can describe through an experience (one of many similar):

A few years ago my life got messy. It had already shifted gears from the way my family operates and expects things to operate, but a few years ago I got very sick and things went sort of nuts.

Then at one family gathering, an uncle asked me how things were going. An aunt was also there at the time. I stated my situation in a personal yet objective way at a kind of bare-bones level. I took responsibility—that is, I didn’t blame anyone, and I didn’t say, “Woe is me. My life sucks. See all my problems.” I simply stated what I thought to be honest, appropriate, and balanced in a way they’d understand. Meaning, I stuck to the basics without getting into all the metaphysical things like I’d do on this blog. Asked how things we’re going, I’d spontaneously stated something to the effect of: “Eh. It’s been kinda rough… Weellll, let’s just say I’ve been fighting some inner demons.”

It turned out that the three of us had a solid conversation and one that unexpectedly opened me up to them further than the not-very-open I’d more or less always been.

Waiting…

When we want to bitch about things, there are usually always people around ready and willing to bitch with us. But what I’ve found, at a frequency that surprises me, is that when we cut out the negativity and share our story candidly, we “tell” others that it’s okay to be human, to be flawed, to be imperfect.

And in being okay with not always being okay, we provide them the space to relax their own inner walls a bit. Yes, they will likely put them right back up post-chat, just as we will to some degree. But the mere fact that others ease at all can be a miracle. In being vulnerable, we subconsciously grant others permission to also be vulnerable.

Now, yes, sure, sometimes others are so bent on the negatives that our openness simply provides them fodder. Even those who claim to love us, themselves, humanity, animals, plants, or who- or whatever, can become vicious since our integrity and openness challenges their own false ways.

But for a strikingly large number of people, even those who might otherwise seem to us all too willing to blame or judge or whatever (and may have done so in other situations), they actually do have soft sides—they’re simply waiting for someone to tell them: “It’s okay.”

They’re waiting for you.

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