Tag Archive: beliefs

 Deep down, most of us are insecure in some capacity. Whether it’s the slight bump on your nose, the extra 10 lbs. you recently gained or that one crooked tooth that ruins your otherwise Hollywood smile, no one (not even Angelina Jolie) can live up to the impossible standards of beauty and perfection society promotes. What’s worse is that oftentimes in childhood, we are subjected to bullying and teasing. So, if we weren’t already feeling “less than fresh” about these seemingly minor personal blemishes, “meanies” point out these flaws of ours, skyrocketing our self-conscious tendencies to a whole new level. But bullying frequently doesn’t just stop there!

In the infamous words of Madonna, “we are living in a material world” (ie: we’re focused on the surface of things), meaning that based on the “cover” of each individual’s “book”, we make assumptions about the kind of person they may be. What god gave you, the clothes you wear, your makeup habits, how you speak and even your gait can all affect how greater society views you…and therefore treats you. In fact, psychological research has proven general trends that we go so far as human beings to believe that those who are physically attractive undoubtedly ALSO possess attractive “character qualities” (ie: they’re assumed to be smarter, more competent and more honest just cause they’re good looking! But we all know what happens when you assume…) Unfortunately for those of us who were NOT born in the likenesses of Marilyn Monroe or James Dean, it’s a much tougher battle trying to win people over. The result of all of this societal pressure is the employment of some sort of defense mechanism in order to cope.
Admittedly, I was one of those persons ostracized and belittled in my formative years. If it weren’t my gothic/punk-inspired personal grooming habits I was being mocked for (and even spat on! Damn conservative ultra-conformist Catholic school!!!), it was my eloquence with words. Funnily enough, these so-called “flaws” of mine are largely responsible for my success and many opportunities I’ve been granted, both career and otherwise, as an adult (Oh, the irony is not lost on me). Importantly however, it’s not simply the existence of my individuality that has helped me get to where I am. After all, we all bring unique qualities to the table. Rather, it’s my attitude and how I learned to cope with these “childhood traumas” that has allowed me to progress as I have.
Essentially, you have three major choices:
1)                          You develop a “thick skin” and come to the conclusion that it’s quite literally impossible to please everyone; therefore, those who truly matter will accept, love and support you no matter what.
2)                          You overcompensate for your insecurities by developing a sense of cockiness, insensitivity and bravado, making wild claims that NOTHING affects you emotionally (we’ll talk more on this later).
3) You become the subject of today’s discussion: a constant “people pleaser”. You limit your self-expression and change “with the tides” in order to win EVERYONE over in a quest to achieve unconditional acceptance (often because on a subconscious level you didn’t feel loved or appreciated enough as a child). Of course, when this backfires and for no justifiable reason someone just frankly doesn’t like or accept you, it becomes evident how dangerous this coping strategy truly is.
In case you’re wondering, I went with door number one; a choice that was and continues to be compounded by my experiences in the music biz. Now, I’m not suggesting for everyone to become as cynical or as jaded as me, but having a sense of REALISM when it comes to life and human interactions is essential if you are striving to develop “psychological maturity”.
While Freud is primarily known for his controversial (and in many people’s eyes, disturbing) psychosexual theories, he had an interesting view of humanity that I believe rings true, especially in this circumstance. Allow me to paraphrase:
Humanity is inherently selfish in the sense that at the end of the day our primary driving force is to ensure our own personal survival (and that of our kin) at any cost. But throughout evolutionary history, we realized the benefit of collective work (ie: it increases efficiency/productivity which allows for more personal free time) and therefore we formed complex societies. Because our natural tendency is to be “me-oriented”, we had to create and implement rules, regulations, laws and mores in order to successfully function as a group and limit (as much as humanly possible) acts of deviance (Civilization and Its Discontents).
With all of this said, I’m sure you can appreciate just how mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting of a life it can/will be if you choose to try and “people please” when 99% of the rest of humanity lives according to the aforementioned mindset.
This is NOT to say you should become an asshole toward people without cause or assume that everyone will be an asshole toward you (don’t confuse “characteristic selfishness” with “evolutionary selfishness”). That kind of pessimistic “woe is me” thinking is just as dangerous as “people pleasing”. Essentially the secret is in finding a balance: you don’t want to lose yourself, but sometimes (particularly when dealing with authority figures), you cannot always express yourself unapologetically and without censorship.
Be sure to judge each circumstance as individual, but remember, you should NEVER compromise who you are to such an extent that you can’t even recognize the motives behind the actions in which you’re engaging. That my friends would lead to regret and that’s a whole nother can of worms in itself.

There’s a distinct difference between growing up and acting grown up. While the former refers to the physical/hormonal/biological changes one’s body undergoes as (s)he literally ages on an annual basis, the latter is a much more complex psychological development that requires an active acknowledgement of one’s own behaviours, motivations, attitudes, prejudices, strengths…and MOST importantly faults; a concept referred to as “introspection”.

While in theory, it’d make sense for the two aforementioned processes to work in a symbiotic fashion, I think it goes without saying we’ve all met adults who act like children, and even vice versa.

Over the next few months while you’re busy with your studies, I’d like to have the opportunity to impart onto you the psychological wisdom, by means of illustrative anecdotal (and often humourous, I hope) examples from my real life, I’ve acquired through my dutiful career as a professional student (seven years and counting!) and also frankly as a result of my family being perfectly primed to launch their own hit reality series.

The benefit of said mission is twofold:
1) I get a fantastic means of venting about human stupidity to which I’m sure all of you can relate.

2)Hopefully, in some small way, I will contribute to bettering your relationships with others and perhaps you’ll be inspired to “pay” this knowledge “forward”.

So without further explanation of my motives and/or legitimation, let’s get down to it…

How does one, pray tell, begin to engage in the act of introspection? Well, quite simply, it starts with a little bit of soul searching [ie: taking the time to analyze the things about yourself of which you’re proud AS WELL AS the things about yourself (and the activities of which you’ve been a part) that you’d rather NOT divulge.] Think about ties between events and/or significant persons in your life (such as your parents) which may have influenced the development of certain personality traits. For example, my crazy Italian temper (I like to refer to her as “psychotica”) 100% without a doubt was inherited. No offense pops!

The point of this exercise is to get to know what makes YOU tick. Ask YOURSELF why YOU believe in certain laws, morals, conspiracies, principles etc. and why others you could care less about. If your answer is simply because “you’ve been told to” or “that’s just how it’s always been”, you’re NOT digging deep enough.

Remember, you always have the option of rejecting new information as it comes your way and analyzing it for potentially hidden biases. In sum, DON’T accept anything or anyone, including aspects of your innermost self at “face value”; there’s always more lingering beneath the surface than meets the eye. As much as we may not wish to admit it, we are products of the environments to which we’ve been exposed and history has a funny way of repeating itself. Again, thanks dad!

Okay, so if you’re now thinking, “that sounds like a rather trying exercise and I’m still in the process of convincing myself (and others) that sleeping with my friend’s significant other in a drunken haze was all just a bad dream, “ here’s where the good part comes in:

The result of introspection (and let me make clear it’s an ongoing journey) when done effectively is, for lack of a better word, pretty damn “kickass”. You’ll truly KNOW yourself, have FAITH and STRENGTH in your motivations (and therefore less likelihood of regretting your actions), CONFIDENCE in your abilities (but never arrogance or cockiness), IMPROVED coping and strategy skills, but most importantly overall HEALTHIER, more RESILIENT and more MATURE interactions with everyone you encounter. Not to mention, Plato seems to think it was a pretty cool idea: “Why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?” (Theaetetus, circa 360 B.C.E)

So, with all of that said, why does everyone not participate in this activity? Well, to give you an analogy, I’d like to answer a question with a question: why do people continue to “yo-yo diet” or starve themselves when there is more than sufficient evidence indicating the only healthy and functional way to achieve one’s maximum physical condition is to lead a consistently well-balanced lifestyle and diet? In other words…laziness and well, some people are just content being assholes.

Don’t kid yourself, introspection, like any complex thought process, requires CONSISTENT, FOCUSED and HONEST effort. Even so, there will still be times in which the brat in you rears its ugly head.

In conclusion, I bid you all well with your cerebral unfurling and sincerely encourage you to contact me if one of these times my ranting strikes a fancy in you. Oh…and in case you’re wondering, my dry sarcastic wit is the result of my mom and far too much exposure to Monty Python movies.