How to be Genuine

This is a kind of a “Part 2” of a post I already did called, “Taking off our masks.”

Many people long to be known for who they truly are AND be loved and accepted for who they truly are. Some people are people-pleasers who strive to do or say anything (or almost anything) in order to be accepted or loved.  It is sad, when, despite everything they have done, people STILL won’t love or accept them, OR they accept a fake version of them, discarding the real, flesh-and-bone person in the process.  The good news is that we don’t have to strive to be accepted or loved if we know how to be genuine, even if not everyone on the planet even likes  or gives a care about us.

Barriers to being genuine:

1.) A society, institution, and/or individual who doesn’t allow for emodiversity, which is the abundance of emotions, both positive and negative being allowed to be expressed.

For instance, at work, associates are often not allowed or are strongly discouraged from crying, because it’s deemed “unprofessional” and “unbecoming.” But, according to the December 2016 edition of Reader’s Digest, a study done by researchers Oliver John of UC Berkeley and James Gross of Stanford University, found that bus drivers who suppressed their anger or sadness, had their anger or sadness intensify (i.e…worsen)! (Marsh, Readers Digest, 45) That is probably because they were unconsciously feeling guilty and uncomfortable because of not being able to be genuine enough to express the reality of how they were really feeling. An online friend of mine aptly described crying as “the peeing of the heart.”  Imagine, if at work or school, you weren’t allowed to use the bathroom because it was deemed “inappropriate” or “unprofessional.” It would be a mess!  Maybe if we allowed for more emodiversity, including crying or sadness at work and school, then I think we would solve half our interpersonal or personal emotional issues right there. I’m not saying, cry in such a way that it interrupts the teachers, students, clientele, and/or other associates. But maybe if we were to have a designated safe place where people could cry or get upset without fear of retaliation or hurting themselves or others, much like smokers now have a designated area where they can smoke, that would work MUCH better than not allowing people to cry at all!

To add to that, often we are forced by societal institutions, even religious  institutions, to “put a smile on our face” even if we don’t feel happy. I’ve heard numerous times (I don’t know how many) said to me things to the effect of “Put a smile on your face,” and “Don’t worry. Be happy,” when I was actually feeling depressed and/or angry.  Needless to say, that advice didn’t really help me at all! Research has shown that when we are forced to feel happy (or fake-happy), our actual moods actually became worse!  Many times in the sales or helping professions or even in religious institutions, we are told that smiling makes others happy, but if it is forced or fake, who does it really help when our actual moods deteriorate anyway?

Being able to be emodiverse , according to already-existing research gathered by Jason Marsh in Yes! Magazine published by Reader’s Digest in December 2016, is consistently linked to lower depression and had a healthier lifestyle than those who didn’t. (Marsh, Readers Digest, 48).

2.) Lying or being dishonest with who we are as a person.

That means exaggerating our accomplishments or just straight out telling people things that are not true about ourselves.  People may then have an inflated (or deflated-depending on the lie we may tell) sense of who we are, but they will never have the chance to accept and love the real you, and you will never have the chance to improve yourself, a lose-lose situation for both of you.

3.) Being arrogant

Along with lying, as sign of ingenuity, I have found, is being arrogant and/or displaying behaviors and words that make it seem that you think you are better than everyone (or almost everyone) else. I believe, with the exception of God, no one is perfect, and making it seem like you are, is a sign of being dis-genuine. For example, when someone confronts you about something you did wrong, rather than apologizing, admitting, and/or repenting of that error, you get upset and blame him or her instead. Also, when someone compliments you making it seem like somehow you “deserve” it more than everyone else.Connected to this, another way we are dis-genuine is feeling entitled to certain things that are really privileges. For instance, telling your boss that you deserve a raise and demanding it when you have done little to earn it, or even if you have done enough demanding it anyway, instead of telling him or her nicely that you want a raise.

4.)Trying to hide our flaws and/or perceived issues from others

When we try to compensate or hide things from people, we not only get a sense of inadequacy (from people being fooled into think we are better than we really are), but we are not being genuine either.  But when we are emodiverse and open about our mistakes and issues to others,  I have found often that it then frees others to open up and talk about their issues and flaws, because when we are open about our own shortcomings, we are in effect saying to them that it is safe for them to open up and that we will most likely (I hope.) that we will listen and empathize with them without judgement or retribution.

To summarize: How to be genuine

1.) Be emodiverse and allow others the same.  That is, allow yourself and others to express their emotions openly and without fear of reprisal or retribution.  That, however, does NOT mean that you allow yourself or others to get away with acting abusive in any way, whether it be emotional, verbal, physical, sexual or in any other way. But that does mean you allow people to cry if they need to or allow them to express anger or other so-called negative emotions, so as long as they are not hurting or trying to hurt themselves or others.

2.) Being honest with who we are a person.

3.) Being humble. That means never demanding more than we honestly think we deserve. That also means admitting our flaws and imperfections and accepting and loving others despite them.

4.) Being open about our issues and flaws with others. That does not mean you have to share everything with everyone; after all, that may not be wise. However, that does mean trusting at least a few people with our issues and flaws, and asking for help to change and solve these issues and flaws.  It also means that we are open to others telling us about their flaws and emphatically listening to them.

Being genuine may be difficult and costly, but at least I have found that it is well worth it because not only is genuineness a valued asset in our day, but it is also rare and beautiful.

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Boundaries and Consent

A problem that we have in our society today in general is other people’s boundaries.  Sure there are things that we all must do in order to be successful. It can look a bit different for each person. For me, for instance, I have to go to work , go to church, and deal with many different people (including difficult ones) every day. These are non-negotiable for me. However, I strive to do these things while also respecting others’ boundaries or “no” for me.

However, there are things some people (including me, sadly, sometimes) do or say that can be a violation of others’ boundaries. Here are some of the violation boundaries I’ve noticed in life situations I’ve encountered or heard, and how we all can do better in creating a culture of consent and respecting other people’s boundaries:

violation of personal space-When we touch or hug someone without their consent, we are violating their personal space. I’ve seen it happen to others and me more times than I can count. This violation is not only on an individual level but also on a societal level. For me, being violated in this way isn’t usually that big of a deal (Key word: usually), but for others it can be devastating or at the very least triggering because of past experiences of being abused or otherwise devalued. And we must respect these people, because if you were in their shoes, how would you feel?  If you are a parent, you must also respect that your child (no matter how young) does not always want to be hugged or cuddled or want to show affection to another child or adult. It may be because this person has hurt them in some way, or because they just don’t like to be touched. That is OK. Even if you are NOT a parent and a child or an adult you know does not want to be touched or hugged, you must strive to  love and respect the individual by respecting their wishes. I’ve heard in numerous settings where I heard a child or an adult (or everyone) must hug someone, just because X person did. No, no, no! First of all, just because X (or you) feels comfortable hugging the person, doesn’t mean everyone does or has the same type of close relationship.  Secondly, a true hug cannot be forced!  Thirdly, forcing someone else to hug implies to that person being forced that their feelings and their body isn’t of value, that others can do what they wish to that person or their body– a very dangerous precedent indeed!

violation of time-When we show up to someone’s abode without their consent or when we unload on someone that doesn’t want to or doesn’t have time to listen to us unload, we are violating the others’ time.  When faced with the possibility of violating others’ time, I try to respect the other person instead. For instance, when I want to talk to a friend but she is busy doing something else, and she confronts me with this, I would say, “I’m sorry for bothering you. I will talk to you when you are not as busy.” I would never : a.) Throw a tantrum and say, “But whhhy can’t we talk about this NOW?!” b.) offer up suggestions on why what she’s doing now isn’t as “important” as me.   c.) invalidate her boundary in any of these or other ways.  Likewise, we all must respect others’ time whenever possible.  We must apologize and make amends when we fail to do so, because as my pastor aptly says, “Time is life.”

Violation of privacy-When we put up pictures of someone else or give out their phone number or address without their consent for everyone to see, we are violating their privacy. Exceptions: When a phone number or address is already publicly available on multiple sites somewhere else, such as of a celebrity or other famous person, it is probably OK to post it on Facebook.  Or when a picture of someone is already on Facebook, as long as  the picture does not objectify or devalue that person in any way, it’s probably OK to put up too. However, as a rule, we should ASK the person/people  before we post or upload anything that includes others on Facebook, Instagram, or any other site. When they say, “No” don’t throw a fit or tantrum, or demand they see things *your* way. Also, this applies when someone does NOT want to talk about something that is bothering them to you. You cannot, absolutely cannot force someone to talk and expect them to have much respect for you and your boundaries if you can’t respect theirs.  Instead, we should say something like, “That’s fine, but if you ever want to talk about it, I will be here for you and support you through it all,” and then just drop it. If they want to discuss what is bothering them, with you, they will. You just have to be patient with them.

Giving Value to Others

*trigger warning: references to suicide and abuse/violence*

 


When 12 year old Katelyn Davis (source: Washington Post and yahoo.com) videotaped her suicide last December, when there are shootings at airports and theaters, we often wonder why and what is going on in the world.  I think part of the answer lies in a societal epidemic: the lack of value given to other human beings. I wonder what would happen if more people around Katelyn, actually valued her as a person  rather than as an object of their pleasure and gratification. I wonder if some people actually sought to help others instead of taking their lives, either by their words or actions. I wonder what would happen if the people that perpetuated the awful shootings and disasters were valued instead of slipping through the cracks  before  they felt like they had to do such carnage and harm. Now, I’m NOT saying that the actions of perpetrators or people that hurt others are justified in their actions, because they are absolutely NOT. However, maybe much hurt could be prevented if we valued others more!

How do we value others?

-by validating them in word and thought: (for more on validation, please see my post :https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/on-validation-and-invalidation/)

-by not treating others like an object to be pitied or an object to satisfy our own desires. This includes everything from not mocking others to respecting others’ boundaries, to investing in others’ lives other than our own.

-by helping other people through their trials and burdens. For instance, a friend of mine at work wanted to help encourage a manager who was going through a tough time by sending him a card of encouragement  and by having others sign it to show that we cared about him. Also, when I was going through a difficult time last year, a friend of mine  took the time to talk to me about the difficult situation and encouraged me to keep going and not give up. Both my friend of mine at work and other friend of mine (you know who you are) have helped others and/or me immensely just by showing they valued others other than just themselves.

-along with the previous point: showing others that they are not forgotten. This not only includes helping others through trials and burdens, but something as simple as a kind gesture or a “Hey, how are you?” to someone that everyone else may not talk to or ignore.  It is also encouraging others to see the good in others and themselves, especially when they are tempted to self-deprecate. It is also including them in our social and other interactions whenever it would be appropriate and possible.

-by standing up for another person when they are being devalued or depreciated. When you see or hear someone being unfairly put down or devalued, stand up for them. Don’t be a bystander! For instance, if a friend of yours is being insulted in front of another person, say something (to the offender) like,” I don’t appreciate you saying that about them. They are of value too. ” or “Please don’t say those things in front of me. It hurts them and me.”  A reasonable person would say something to the effect of, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” but a rude person may try to justify it or devalue you. Don’ t fall for the rude person’s excuses. Walk away from them.

 

 

Forgiveness

What it isn’t: Before we understand what forgiveness is, we must first understand what it isn’t, since there are many misconceptions about what it actually is:

Forgiveness is NOT excusing: -It is not saying what the offender did to you (or someone you care about) is OK. The very act of forgiveness necessitates that a wrong was done and has to be “paid for” by someone. But it does not require reconciliation or trusting the offender again. These things, at least in my estimation, must be earned.

Forgiveness is NOT forgetting: We can forgive someone, but not forget what they did to us. In fact, if a deep wrong has been committed against you or someone you care about, how can you not forget?

Forgiveness is NOT a feeling:  We don’t have to wait till we feel like forgiving to forgive. It is an act of the will, and cannot be forced upon by anyone. That is, you cannot force someone else to forgive!  It has to be initiated by the one being offended him/her self. But if we wait until we completely feel like forgiving, we will probably never reach the point where we will truly forgive, and be more likely angrier and more bitter than ever! I also believe that forgiveness is an act of obedience to God, and it’s something you do both for you and for God.

What forgiveness is:

It is letting go: You can’t forgive someone and be bitter and angry at them at the same time.

It is choosing not to hold hurt and anger against the offender anymore: It is choosing to let God mete out justice against the offender, and not you.You are willing to pray for them and/or wish good things for them and their life. It is an act of trust on your part to God. You are trusting God to help the offender repent and make amends for the wrong done to you in whatever way or manner He deems right and necessary, not a mite more or less.

It is choosing to not hold yourself prisoner to the hatred and anger that you are entitled to for a wrong committed against you: Often when we refuse to forgive someone it is because we want to punish the offender for what they did to us and not let them off easily. However, when we don’t forgive, we let anger, hatred, and bitterness reside in our hearts, negatively affecting us and our relationships, not theirs.

It is an act of grace: When we choose to forgive, we are most like God. I believe this is so because it says in Romans 5:8: When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God gave up His son (I believe) for those who don’t even acknowledge Him or who hate(d) Him! If you are a Christian today, and God did that for you, who are we not to extend that same grace to someone else?

 

Story behind this post:

I had anger and bitterness in my heart for someone recently, and these feelings weren’t doing anyone any good, especially for my relationships with God and others who didn’t really offend me. I wanted to spend time with God, but was not able to spend much quality time because of this sin (i.e…moral wrongdoing) in my heart. So, I asked a friend of mine for advice. She helped me understand what forgiveness is better and reminded me of how much Jesus forgave me for my sins. Then, I went to church and learned more about forgiveness and worship there. It is then that I decided, with the help of many praying friends (you know who you are), to forgive this person.  I started praying for this person blessings upon their life. I sent them an encouraging note. And I realized that when I did these things that a.) The person wasn’t as bad as I had made them out to be. b.) That I was so much happier and freer to love others, because this weight of bitterness and anger was lifted off me. So, if this person ever reads this (you know who you are), I forgive you and I hope you will forgive me too for holding anger and bitterness in my heart towards you.