Tag Archives: altruism

Blog 31: Making New Associations part 4 – Moving from Insincerity or Faking it, to Living in Honest Authenticity.

Sometimes I enjoy watching “The Big Bang Theory”, a show on CBS about a little group of friends who are mostly geeks. Sheldon, the main character, is a genius who has no verbal filter and is irritating as hell because of his total self-focus and his condescending attitude toward everyone. Because they are not as smart as him. But Sheldon has something going for him. He is HONEST and genuine. He never pretends to be someone other than who he is, even if it gets him in trouble. Though his motivation for honesty comes from his sense of superiority, the fact remains, with Sheldon you always know exactly what you are going to get.

Becoming an idiosyncratic genius is not my idea of a good time, but we could all take a lesson from Sheldon in staying true to our real self. Ed Deci says, “Authenticity necessitates behaving autonomously, for it means being the author of one’s actions—acting in accord to one’s true inner self….to be authentic is to be true to one’s self.” Today’s blog is about making a new association with how we act in the world and present ourselves to others. It’s about moving away from inauthenticity, hypocrisy, and faking it, and moving toward living in genuine honesty, a type of moral integrity, in that our inner attitudes match our outward words and behaviors.

I have caught myself scoffing at politicians who like a chameleon, change exteriors so often you cannot tell his or her true colors no matter how hard you squint. They shift views, beliefs, and attitudes depending on the constituency surrounding them. I am not a politician but I have also been guilty of being a chameleon in certain situations and changing how I act based upon who I am hanging around. It is disingenuous to judge and criticize shifting loyalties and behaviors in others, when we sometime struggle with acting in similar ways. Sometimes we put on airs or a false persona for certain people, or act differently than we might if we were alone. Many of us do this to hide our humanness, our flaws, kinks, quirks and brokenness. We fear rejection so we hide the self we really are behind a “more acceptable” mask or behind an act that sometimes fools no one but ourselves.

Are the concepts of honesty, vulnerability, and genuineness still valued in our culture? Sometimes its seems that hiding, faking and guarding our true selves has become the soup de jour? However, thanks to people like Oprah, Brene Brown, Ken Wilber, Rob Bell, Richard Rohr, etc., honesty and vulnerability seem to be making a comeback. For this I am grateful. There is a true power found in raw authenticity that energizes humans to live in vitality and to bring about positive changes in our culture.  A power that is rarely found in wearing a mask or a persona. Perhaps one of the reasons people like Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the Dali Lama, and Jesus, just to name a few, have been able to act in ways that have changed parts of the world with present reverberations. They all live(d) honestly and let their true voices ring out loud and long to the world where they had influence, They did not hide their voices and beliefs, or spout a party line. Their passion for the greater good burned true and bright and the world was been changed.

I was just at a Rob Bell event in San Diego last night, his “Everything is Spiritual” tour. http://robbell.com/portfolio/tour/ It was amazingly life giving, and motivating. One thing he shared that really helped me was that the Universe is made up of 96% dark matter and energy and though this is not fully understood by scientists, they know that somehow this dark matter and energy are important for the overall health of the universe. And he concluded, we humans are full of dark matter as well. Our shadow sides, our wounds, histories, flaws and struggles. Rather than hiding or ignoring our own dark matter, we need to embrace it. To use the energy of the darkness inside to propel us forward into the world for good, for loving, for connecting. We all have dark matter and like the universe it is part of the overall health of our own bodies.
I have been guilty of hiding my dark matter but as I have learned to embrace my struggles and honesty share my humanness (warts and all) there is a great freedom and power that can feel almost Nuclear at times in it’s intensity and brilliance. I was given a great big universal push into healing and vulnerability a few years ago when a dear friend put me on the Cable TV show, “What Not to Wear”. http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/ My issues with beauty, identity, self-love and my discomfort with my femininity and sexuality were exposed to untold multitudes via the medium of Television. It is harder to hide when everyone is watching.

Instead of wrecking me or filling me with shame (my greatest fear), this experience opened me up to my unique beauty and value and helped me embrace my dark matter as an important part of what made me Wanda. Risking vulnerability and honesty in front of the “world” was one of the best experiences I have had in my life. When Stacy London and Clinton Kelly and all 45 of the crew, loved and accepted me even though they saw and heard about my flaws and struggles, something broke open deep in my heart and I have lived in a new experience of freedom and joy from that moment on.

At some point I will write about my “What Not to Wear” days in this blog and I am working on an Ebook about this transforming experience.. But for now, I will close by encouraging all of us to seek and find our dark matter instead of hiding from it, and to stop faking our true identities in order to receive a scrap of approval from other people who want to fit in and wear all the same logos and drive the same cars. Own who you are proudly. Don’t settle for a caricature of yourself. The world needs you to be fully who you are. You are the only you that will ever live.

Clinton, Stacy and the famous dog, Mary.
Clinton, Stacy and the famous dog, Mary.

Going deeper:

1.) What messages did you receive over the years about your own dark matter? Have you been given encouragement to embrace all of yourself, or have you bought into the cultural lie of perfectionism and the need to put on a happy face that may not be fully yours?

2.) What experiences have you had with your dark matter that have turned out positively for you? Perhaps you chose to embrace and reveal it, or maybe you were universally pushed into it like I was. How has that positive experience helped you live more deeply and authentically?

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Blog #18: Love & Anxiety-Individualism vs. Community

We live in a culture that currently is fairly obsessed with Self and individualism. The old days when the group or community mattered more than the individual seem to be long gone. Other countries still focus on the importance of the family or community, but here in the good ole US of A, we like ourselves. We like to be sure that no one gets in the way of our personal happiness. Here are some typical slogans that you may have heard.

Look out for number 1!

You deserve a break today.

Nice guys (girls) finish last.

He (or She) who dies with the most toys wins.

If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

Be all that you can be.

While it is very important to love and care for ourselves, there is a cost when we cease focusing any of our energy toward the good of the society or culture in which we live. Linsey Lohan, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and most of the Kardashians, are some examples of what can happen when self-focus runs amok. Some people may be fascinated by the lives of these celebrities and find their escapades amusing, but most parents would not want them used as role models for their young children.

As a professor, a favorite quote I shared with my college students goes like this: “A person wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package.”  Not only have I seen this to be true, a person wrapped up in themselves often also experiences more anxiety. When a majority of the energy and focus in life is directed inward, toward self, ego, possessions, etc., bettering or collecting more of these things becomes the prime concern and top priority. Therefore, you are much more aware of what you have to lose.

Because of the brain’s bias to the negative, (see past blogs for more on this), fear of loss is of much greater interest and much more motivating, than hope of gain. So a consistent fear of the loss of all we have fought to gain, generates internally greater and greater levels of anxiety. To quote Daniel Coleman in Emotional Intelligence”; “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller.”

Love, on the other hand brings a sense of calmness and security. Being loved and loving is one of the best antidotes we can “ingest” into our hearts and souls against the toxins of anxiety and fearful selfishness. When we focus solely on ourselves, we forget that at the core we are mammals. We are more than an animals, but as mammals, we therefore need our pack to feel safe and secure. People who are focused on the good of their communities and those they love, tend to be happier, and feel more secure and peaceful. They often have more of a sense of intimate connection and purpose. They have a better balance to their focused energy, some going toward self and some going towards the community and loved ones. Studies have shown that people who love and give are much happier overall. There is something fulfilling and rewarding about making a positive difference in other’s lives.

I am not suggesting we stop taking care of ourselves but perhaps taking a look at our lives to see if we are in balance. Is some of my focus going toward bettering the self and some towards bettering others? As a child, attending a Mennonite church I was taught that service to others was all that mattered.  My needs were deemed irrelevant. I later learned the hard way that living without love and care for myself turned me into a burned-out angry mess. Perhaps in your families or religious organizations you have gotten a similar message. Well, as in anything, balance is the key. Love of self is connected directly to the love of other. Most cultures and religions subscribe to some form of the golden rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” So go out and love this week, love yourself and continue to love those around you.

 

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War orphans from Uganda, they know how to do community, they would not survive otherwise

Going deeper:

  1. As humans we often struggle with extremes, balance seems to come with hard work and experience. In this area are you in balance, or do you tend toward one extreme or the other? Selfishness, or are you a people pleaser with an utter lack of focus on self-love and care?
  2. Whichever side you typically inhabit, this week try to focus a bit more energy into the other side. Notice what impact this has upon your mind, body and soul. If you have been programmed to think that self-love and care is “selfish”, practicing it may be hard for you, but please try. You will feel better.
  3. Those of you who naturally have these two sides in balance, thank you! Please keep being a great example to the rest of us who need a bit of support and a role-model.

 

To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join a Real Life Solutions 3-wk anxiety reduction workshop. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving!