Tag Archives: Conforming

Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel

In this age of political correctness, racial profiling, special investigations, public assassinations and homogenized intellect- uality, is it any wonder that we have such difficulty talking intelligently with anyone without having to identify which side of the trending news or social gossip we align ourselves with? It seems that we must we pledge allegiance to a particular party, team, special interest group or underdog minority before anyone will consent to have a honest conversation with us. Now that we are just beginning to realize our privacy has essentially been obliterated, do we really believe that the Thought Police are listening? Does the Ministry of Peace have spies in our neighborhood groups? Is Winston Smith no longer the only one who must admit that two plus two now equals five? There seems to be a trending unconscious paranoia and public obsession with maintaining safety in anonymity while appearing to be in alliance with the socially perceived “winning” side. Why?

We seem to have become overly concerned with how others see us. The perception of our public image has become a very powerful focus. This has been strongly driven home by our witnessing the media unearthing every little thing that anyone of any notoriety has ever done. Everyone and everything is being investigated for some form of corruption. As a result we have become blame and prosecution crazy. Why and how has this become the dominating American focus of our time? I believe that this stems back to a “systemic” halted growth in our process of maturity and emotional development. How has this happened?

As we grow as children, we are trained to regard our parents as the authority for what we can and can’t do in our daily lives. For the things we want to do but are forbidden by them, we tend to do them anyway and then remain on the lookout for our being discovered by them. This trains us to pay more attention to what our parents perceive and believe is important than what we believe is right or appropriate for ourselves. As we get older and as our parents are either unable or unwilling to relinquish control over our lives and all along preventing us from maturing past them, we cut loose from them by transferring this feeling of authority to the outside world. Now the police, government, our bosses, our psychologists, our contemporary thinkers, our religious leaders take the place of our parents dictating what we can or can’t do in our daily activities. Over recent years, the media, with all its pundits, experts, priests, pastors, officials, social “elders” and investors seems to have been substituted for this parental authority.

This has augmented a tremendous undercurrent of paranoia in the average person. Most everyone seems to be petrified of being exposed for some social or legal infraction causing them to say and reveal little about themselves and what they’ve done or not that might seem to compromise their social standing. This has radically changed how we deal with the public. How does this progress?

These days it is commonly accepted that to converse with a stranger we must wade through conventional greetings that don’t really connect to the other person but only get their attention. This encourages us to believe that our safety with them can be assured and a comfortable format for interchange can be established. Saying “How are you doing?” doesn’t really want to know how they are doing but “tests the water” for our interpersonal comfort with them. Conventionally and with no connection other than this superfluous formality, it’s easy then just to move on if the comfort level doesn’t feel safe or comfortable. But these days this protective superficiality has extended well past initiating a connection deeply into the continuation of our conversations with them to test where the other person’s values rest. We now feel that we must ascertain who and what they align themselves with and what kind of authority or investigative media they might conform to. Even our educational system seems to have also been radically affected in that virtually no balance between progressive or conservative speakers has been allowed in college settings. Diversity of culture has become a sweeping demand effectively censoring individual opinion if it differs with the prevailing tendency toward deference in favor of socially acceptable views. Minority and special interest groups have made us feel that to express an opinion differing from their interests qualifies us as being racist and warrants admonishment or prosecution of some sort.

In our contemporary landscape social bonding has been evolving into a required alignment with others who express social dissatisfaction with any entity that expresses views that threaten their emotional security or exposes individual preferences to social scrutiny. Bonding with others through pain or dissidence is and has been an unhealthy way to approach the world. It does not allow free expression under the threat of banishment in the face of keeping up our public image.

On the surface the pendulum of free expression has reached an extreme in the suppression of allowing individual preferences to even reach the light of day under the threat of exposure, negative labeling, banishment or even persecution and prosecution.

Have we taken the requirement to align with diversity too far? Are we really threatened or offended by any opinion that even hints at diminishing or limiting any minority group’s advantage? How much handicap parking must we endure? How many languages must our official documents be translated into? How much lower must we reduce educational and skilled job requirements so we’re not seen as racist or discriminating? How much Affirmative Action must be allowed to penetrate our standards? How much must we restrict the expression or exposure of our accomplishments so those who are either challenged too lazy to work don’t feel less about themselves?

Are you offended? Yes? Well then, good! Now, get over it! You may now drink from the water trough of accountability that my offensively perceived questions have led you to. It will encourage you to dilute the indignation you’ve garnered against those who have not changed their behavior and not allowed you to project your own guilt, frailties and prejudices on them. This awareness makes it possible for you to not only recognize but to deal with your issues yourself instead of projecting them on others thereby becoming part of your shadow. Contrarily, are you not offended? Great! You are obviously not projecting anything on anyone and feel comfortable being accountable for whatever you are experiencing with me or anyone else.

As a contemporary culture we have taken the requirement for deference to the socially decreed underdog and self-censoring much too far. It’s time to allow exceptional effort and accomplishment to have full expression and exposure. It’s time to allow ourselves to express our pride and preferences to our peers and the public about who we are, what we’ve done and can do and what we like and don’t like without social emotional extortion threatening us with banishment, labeling, ostracization and persecution simply for being different from the prevailing group. Our current socially demanded and excessive expectation of modesty has become a lethal poison to our creativity. Becoming our brother’s keeper and provider has become a sanctioned monkey on our back. The concept of being of service to those “less fortunate” and in need has metastasized way out of proportion relative to the balanced importance it should have in our daily lives. It’s time to bring back the acceptance of some selfishness. It’s time to not feel blackballed or neglectful of others when we simply think for ourselves, especially, when it runs contrary to the paranoia contained in contemporary popular opinion. The age of political correctness has reached and passed its peak. We must catalyze its decline if we are to regain our self-respect and humanity…for ourselves.

Caged-1If you are, then it’s time for you to step out “into the cold” and go it alone without the approval and support of the silent majority who remain “within the fold.” Domesticant is a new word coined by me that describes a person who will allow themselves to align with being domesticated into behaviors that sacrifice their personal excellence and growth for the comfort and "safety" of others living in mediocrity with a guaranteed security of being safe from challenge so long as they support a relatively risk free status quo. Let me explain.

The word domesticate (v.) originated in 1640 in relation to animals and in 1741 in relation to people. It’s said "to cause to be attached to home and family;" from Medieval Latin domesticatus, past participle of domesticare which is "to tame" or literally "to dwell in a house." Obviously, if our behavior is inappropriate we would not be permitted to “dwell in the house.” In one step further, a “house” could be considered to be our family heritage and tradition.

In our culture and family life we have many rules designed as unspoken coercions that enforce moving with the “herd” in behaviors that will insure the cloaking of the real or imaginary inadequacy and toxic shame felt by those doing the enforcing. Toxic shame, if you remember from past articles, is when someone sees themselves as “bad” rather than seeing an action as Dont rock the boat-1“bad.” Sayings like “If you’re not with me, then you’re against me” or “don’t rock the boat” are prevalent underlying “encouragements” designed to do just that. There are some that say that to feel and think this way is to be paranoid. But I think that the accusation of paranoia is usually fueled by their fear of possible exposure of some “below the radar” personal feelings equivalent to someone’s potential for toxic shame. However, the scenario does not always involve toxic shame. The following example will show why.

My example is a previously used and very common, close to the surface and easily perceived type of personal “alignment.” This is also one of our first trainings into aligning us with the non-verbal expectations that we might receive as a child preparing us for taking notice, perceiving and appropriately behaving according to the emotional comfort, safety and expectations of others. This example describes a scenario which makes the “developmental pattern” easily visible. If you are a child at a family dinner table and your parent puts a serving dish of food on the table and you reach for it an begin spooning out your preference before any one else has had the opportunity to serve themselves, your parent would, most likely, accuse you of being selfish for ignoring the convenience and preference of their guests and/or elders who are also at the table. In the home environment the rule of letting others precede you is often spoken but in a public place it is expected that we have been trained appropriately and that it is no longer necessary for a spoken reminder. For the transgression in the home we would most likely receive verbal admonition with some sort of “punishment” resulting in In the Doghouse-2isolation from or by other family members and/or an “applied” mood from the parent doing the admonition. This occurrence fits what many of us might remember as being termed “being in the doghouse.” This enforced perspective has the intention of making us feel diminished for our “inappropriate” actions. In this interaction the distinction between the specific types of shame that would be applied would become apparent. In healthy shame we would receive an admonition pertaining to our action. In toxic shame we would receive an admonition that assaults and belittles our personal character for poor judgment resulting in our diminished status or integrity within our family or clan.

Odd man outIn public the same “inappropriate” action would, more often than not, receive dirty looks and trigger gossip among those who feel or appear to feel offended. The gossip is intended to attract commiseration and, therefore, validation of the “gossiper’s” perspective from others. This tightens the “clan” feeling. Our “punishment” would most likely be our being ostracized and, perhaps, being openly ridiculed. If we take it personally, we will most likely “come at it” from a position of toxic shame. If we don’t, we simply relegate the experience toward our accumulated awareness of our “normal” cultural limits based on our awareness of healthy shame.

What must be understood here is that, in addition to “inappropriate” behavior, excelling in any area of endeavor also puts us beyond or outside the envelope of what the average person is willing to risk or expect, making them painfully self-conscious about what they believe they could or should be doing. Not investing more effort into excelling themselves, which inevitably must include their being moderately selfish, at least to some extent, makes them eminently more uncomfortable about their own perceived or believed inadequacy making them more aware of their own toxic shame if they are “afflicted” with it. Those who operate within the auspices of healthy shame, often, have little negative reaction to our successes. So we can rest a little easier sour grapes-1when someone does try to diminish us or our accomplishments in knowing that their “sour grapes” almost always comes from their own feelings of inadequacy. When I worked in the technical fields one of my coworkers actually said to me, “Don’t work so fast. You make us look bad.” It should be noted here that if you work to your potential you will attract negative feedback from those who may be jealous and fearful of personal exposure. It may be difficult enough to work up to our potential but to be compounded with peer group jealousy only puts our social status more into that of an outlier or someone perceived as being outside what is considered average or normal for everyone in the clan. When we excel in our endeavors the effects of “standing out from the crowd” or the saying “everyone loves a winner” now apply to us in ways we won’t often anticipate or appreciate.

So, not only do some of us receive training that diminishes our Self-Trust and self-confidence but to excel or not submit to being a domesticant also has the effect of drawing jealous criticism, gossip and excommunication from the social groups that protect each other’s perceived shortcomings by emotionally blackmailing us into silence or inaction with the threat of removing our status of belonging or opportunity for their support.

zip your lipSo, are you a Domesticant? Do you allow yourself to be “dumbed down” so others won’t feel threatened or self-conscious about not putting effort into excelling themselves? How far will you go to provide others with a “safe” and unchallenged self-concept even if you know that it is hurtful for them to feel so limited? How much do you commiserate with others about what they can’t, or more precisely, won’t do? Fear of success is not so much about adjusting our behavior to accommodate new and improved circumstances as much as it is the added stress that now we know we will be expected to perform in the new excellent way in all future endeavors. Additionally, we all “know” that it is politically and socially correct that we are expected to exhibit humility at all times…not too much and not too little. But where is it that we cross the line from being humble about our achievements to diminishing them to the extent that others will not feel so threatened or self-conscious about not excelling themselves?

Dare to be different-1To be sure, being supported by our clan, family and community is important but even in nature there comes point in development where even animals emerge from the nest, if not kicked out, to grow into their full potential. We are also part animal. We are also part of nature. What happened to living, experiencing and accepting the challenge that our physical existence has provided us? Have we allowed our social structure to mute our enthusiasm by "over-protecting" us? Are we now required to be Domesticants so we can feel accepted by others? Have we been tamed out of our true nature?