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.