The Games People Play
I am not a fan of the games people play. I'm not talking about checkers and horseshoes. I'm talking about the need to pretend to be something or somebody because we think that's what's expected, accepted, and socially advantageous. How many people do you know that aren't hiding behind their chosen persona? Starting as children we learn what is acceptable for our social status, and what is not. What subjects may be considered taboo, crude, or acceptable? If we discuss politics and our college education we show our "acceptable" persona. If we then admit we feel lonely, fat, or ignored, what will people think?
We spend so much time being careful to present an image that fits the status we desire, that many of us have forgotten how to communicate from the heart. When we can push past the need to present an image and instead focus on communicating and connecting, then we experience our relationships at a much deeper level. Just as we all feel the need for rest, pleasure, family, and love, we all have a need for meaningful connections with other human beings.
I understand the need to fit in, and that our society does have classes and pecking orders. Of course there are times when we can't just blurt out our deepest thoughts and feelings. But there are so many chances to connect that don't happen because we are afraid of showing our true feelings. We don't want to be judged and have our status lowered in someone's eyes. Or are people just afraid to show their true selves?
I know that it's not always acceptable to be honest and admit faults, desires, and feelings. I know because I tend to do that and I get many mixed reactions. I just feel more people should try it. If someone becomes uncomfortable with my honesty, then I know not to pursue these kinds of conversations with them in the future. If they laugh or gossip about me, so what? Will I sacrifice my happiness for these people? No. When I do connect with someone on a deeper level, and have an honest and meaningful exchange, it makes me feel alive. I am not just going through motions. I feel. I care. I grow.
As I write abou this I realize how hard it is to put my feelings on this subject into words. I will have to pay attention to examples and add them to this post. But for now, I'd like to add that our world today is very difficult and sometimes full of sadness. Besides the normal traumas of life, including death, loss, and aging, we face economic pressures, crime and war. What a better way to face these things with others at our side. Most of us probably feel we are honest and open with our mates, or siblings, or best friends. Thank goodness for those relationships. But why is there so much distance between ourselves and our neighbors, co-workers, and others? Does keeping our true feelings secret benefit our life, our family, and our culture?
The latest statistics on depression in America are alarming. According to one authority, in 2009 approximately 18.8 million American adults (9.5% of the U.S. population) age 18 and older have a depressive disorder. That would be those that have been diagnosed. This does not include other countries, those who aren't diagnosed, and those who are unhappy and lonely. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression.
I didn't start out as a brutally honest human being. I started out being told to go to college and fit in with successful people. Well, did the first part. I imagine I did the second part for a while, but we all change as we grow older. I began to realize how much I craved that honesty and cringed at the games of society. I also grew to appreciate how precious life is and how we should live each moment like it was our last. We never know what will happen tomorrow. So I began to communicate in a way that made me feel I wouldn't regret leaving things unsaid. I stopped paying attention to the social do's and don'ts. I started expressing my feelings more honestly. I started feeling more alive and in the moment.
I really need an example here because I'm not sure anyone can follow my rambling. Let's say you are at work or another group situation and in the middle of a casual conversation. Do you mention that you were too tired to do the dishes the night before? What if people are discussing the new person and how they don't dress well or care how they look. Do you admit you prefer comfort over style? Or stand up the new person because they work many hours and still find time to help our his our her friends? Are you afraid to be seen talking with the person that isn't accepted in the group? Sounds like high school, and yet it still fits the adult world.
I am going to publish this for now, but I'm not sure I've expressed myself very well. I am going to work on better examples. Please feel free to comment and let me know if you agree, disagree, have any idea what I'm trying to say, or think I'm full of it. Really...just let me know if I should delete this blog. Thanks!