Conforming to Social Norms

Philosophy, Social

Fake, phony, exaggerated. “Your child is so cute.” “You’re gorgeous.” “They’re so nice.” Aren’t you tired of lying all the time? Smiling through your teeth, saying things that have no weight. Frankly, you can’t figure out why people find the need to talk about nothing. No one cares about your coworker or child who is “so smart.” No one cares about your friend who lives across the country that they’ll most likely never meet. All of it is bragging, gossip, and jealously. Let’s all be honest with each other. You don’t really think that child is cute, nor do you think your coworkers’ best friend is gorgeous. You’re just trying to get through your day, minding your own business when you’re forced to engage in mindless small talk with others.

You have your repertoire of questions in your back pocket that as soon as you ask, you tune out the answer. “Where are you from? Do you live around here? Do you have children? How long have you been married?” Blah blah blah, it’s all nonsense. Most days, it doesn’t bother you all that much, and you’re able to move forward without the mind-numbing nothingness keeping you down. On a larger scale, you pretend to care about issues you don’t really care about because for some reason you like to complain about injustice without doing anything about it. Oh, it’s so easy to be offended.

You’re Acting

In the past, you’ve found yourself constantly being questioned for the things you say and do. For every action you perform, the world demands a reason, when sometimes there is no reason at all. You change your hair, you switch careers, you start a new hobby, you don’t like something. People ask you why, and instead of saying what you’re really thinking, you give a generic answer because after all the years of questioning, you’re tired of defending yourself.

Society, including you, places pressure on peers to act, think, talk, and response in an acceptable or predetermined way, and if you are one to deviate from these standards, people think you’re crazy or stupid. That’s why you stick to the superficial conversation; it’s easy. You don’t have to enter in philosophical debate or use rhetoric and research to answer where you’re from, or what you do for work. Plus, using this form of communication works well since most people are selfish.

People love talking about themselves. They love to talk about their children, their pets, their career, and in the rare occasion you talk about something that requires deliberation, your counterpart will most likely only listen to what they want to hear, arguing for the sake of validating their own opinion. This all goes back to the standard. The same societal standard we were raised believing in and grew up enforcing with our peers. Conformity of social norms.

Normative conformity involves changing one’s behavior in order to fit in with the group.

Informational conformity happens when a person lacks the knowledge and looks to the group for information and direction.

Identification occurs when people conform to what is expected of them based on their social roles.

Compliance involves changing one’s behavior while still internally disagreeing with the group.

Internalization occurs when we change our behavior because we want to be like another person.

How Does Conformity Influence Behavior? By Kendra Cherry

Conformity, in its respect, is a necessary element to a functioning society, but there are times when you don’t have to conform. You don’t have to think that child is cute. You’re not mean if you think that person isn’t attractive. You’re not wrong in being uninterested in someone you’ve never met and never will meet. You shouldn’t feel pressured to say things you don’t mean and act in ways that aren’t true just to please and be accepted by others, because if you don’t accept yourself, people can see right through it. They can see you projecting your insecurity onto others in the way you treat them and the way you act. And the people closest to you are the ones that get the brute end of all those fake smiles and laughs.

Forget it. Forget all the politics, beliefs, and social acceptance. It’s okay for someone to disagree with you and not like the way you think. That’s the beauty of being a human and living in a place that allows us the freedom to do so. Instead of offended, be grateful that you’re able to express your opinion. It’s your right, and everyone else’s, to exercise freedom.

You’re Not Crazy

Health, Psychology

Time is a thing we can’t wait for, but travels by us so fast. Look, half the year is already over. You don’t feel different, except the ache in your knees and kink in your shoulders. Your consciousness is still young, you have all the time in the world. There are days when you want to sink into your bed and stay there, yet you don’t want to give up on life because there are dreams you want to make come true. You feel guilty because you see everyone else who’s worked hard for what they want, achieved it, and here you are, still trying to be better than your current self.

When you were younger, you wanted to be someone else. Every year, you’d think it that it was the year everything would be different. You’d be a different person, a better version as you waited for some inanimate thing in the future to somehow miraculously change you. Nothing changed, and everything stayed the same. You forget that your thoughts, your narrative and opinions can be flawed, because where you live, inside your head, is your own, and of course, it must be right.

You’re tired of trying to be positive all the time. You’re tired of putting on a smiling face and asking menial questions about other people’s boring life. There are certain people that you love, but most everyone else, you could care less if you never saw them again.

It’s okay.

Acceptance is a mindset, an approach of giving ourselves permission to experience our emotions and taking the perspective that they’re human rather than silly, weak, crazy, wrong, dangerous, or beyond our power to ever be able to manage. 

The Irony of Emotional Acceptance by Holly Parker, Ph.D.

It’s okay to feel sad, unmotivated, antisocial, and guilty. It’s human to find days miserable, despite all the fortune you have. It’s normal to be selfish. Not every day is going to be a good day. Not every week or month you’re going to be achieving all that you want to achieve. One day, you could be on top of the world, inspired by life itself, the next, you could be sitting on your couch, avoiding sleep because you know that it means work tomorrow.

Everyone preaches positivity. Everyone tells you that if you look at the brighter side of things, then you’ll be happier. There are countless articles, books, and words of advice on how to be a better version of yourself because the current you isn’t good enough. While these words of wisdom hold truth to them, they also can make you feel worse. Like it’s your fault for not being happy. It’s all within your power to change your emotions.

“Whatever your own experience of sadness, remember it is part of being human and allows us to recognize and value the contrast between feeling happy and sad.  We need these contrasts in order to recognize our own vulnerabilities and those of others and to be able to appreciate our gains and losses.”

Why It’s Good to Feel Sad by Atalanta Beaumont

You don’t want to accept that you can’t control how you feel. Your logic convinces you that those emotions of sadness, anger, and pain are unreliable. You learn not to trust yourself because you’re constantly being questioned why you feel what you feel and told that you can “reframe your paradigm.” Emotions aren’t completely right. Some emotions spring from a misunderstanding, others resurface and morph into another feeling. While all that’s happening, you can’t forget that your emotions are valid.

Regardless of why you feel what you feel, or what caused that emotion, you’re allow to feel that way. Don’t push it away. The more you push away, the more will show up later in life. Instead, let that wave of emotion rush over you, consume you, then pass like a storm. That makes it go away. Once you’ve felt what you’re body wanted you to feel, then analyze it, try to understand what caused it, and decide if it was right or not. You can’t avoid from feeling, and like the weather, you can’t predict when you’re going to feel a certain way. What you can do is let it run its course and self-reflect. No matter how close anyone is to you, they’re not in your head. It’s you, and only you.

You Do You

Philosophy, Social

Persistence is key in following the path to success, but along the way, you may put too much value on others for guidance. Whenever you’re unsure of something, rather than trying it yourselves, you’ll ask others for advice or assistance. You forget, however, that despite their knowledge in wisdom, the situation of others differs from your current state and you must try things your own way in order to know what’s best.

There are only so many hours in a day, and days in a year to accomplish everything you’ve ever wanted. Most days, all you want to do is forget the world and avoid your personal responsibilities. It’s easy to judge others because it distracts you from your own faults. You care about what others think, and how to present yourself. You don’t allow yourself to try your way due to the risk of failing.

“What one person considers to be true about you is not necessary the truth about you, and if you give too much power to others’ opinions, it could douse your passion and confidence, undermining your ability to ultimately succeed.”

Five Ways To Make Peace With Failure by Susan Tardanico

For example: I’ve never golfed in my life, and recently, my husband has been learning how. We went to the range. I’ve never been good at sports, so naturally my expectation for myself was low. My husband gave me some tips on how to stand, hold the club, and how to hit. I’d go through the whole process in my head: straightening my back, breathing deep, and keeping everything else in check. And of course, I’d miss.

The heat was peaking on a Saturday afternoon. There weren’t many others there besides us. Suddenly, something inside snapped. I cared so much about doing things right and not embarrassing myself, I hindered my own ability to do better by not fully trying. I let go of my insecurities. I pulled the club back with the twist of a hip on an inhale. Then, swinging with exhale, and I hit the ball, straight. A sense of accomplishment rushed over me and I accepted that I was indeed capable of doing it. I still missed many shots, but when I was able to do it correctly, I did it right.

After our practice that day, I learned something about myself. Because I cared so much about not letting myself fail in front of others, I was too afraid to try. I didn’t trust myself or my own ability. Isn’t that something we all do? You don’t want to pursue your dream because you don’t want to make a fool of yourself in front of others. You want to fit in, even subconsciously.

Stop caring and be self-reliant.

“People who act with self-reliance feel more in control of their environment, and feeling this way is an important ingredient of well-being. […] Being self-reliant means doing things for yourself. “

How to Let Go of the Need to Be Perfect By Ilene Strauss Cohen Ph.D.

There are certain things in life to care about, like family and friends, but most things in life don’t require that attention, especially negative things. Take all those negative thoughts that are buried in your subconscious and push them out. Don’t dwell in your mistakes, regret your decisions, or fear your failure. It can be difficult. We are human and it is in our nature to questions and probe, especially our own rationale.

Often, you allow ourselves to care too much about the opinions of others. You let them decide what’s best for you because they must know what they’re doing. They’ve lived longer and have a certain level of success you find admirable, so when it comes to trying something outside your expertise, you look to others. You forget that although their situation may have been similar, it’ll never be the same as yours.

Do what you want and don’t apologize for doing what’s best for you. Of course, that doesn’t mean to be malicious and do wrong upon others for your own benefit. Rather, when you stop caring so much about pleasing others and being perfect at what you do, you’ll succeed.

Pride and People

Philosophy, Social

Humans are guilty for succumbing to the innate vices born within. While most of us know the seven deadly sins that derail us from our daily venture, we often neglect that they exist, believing that we aren’t wrong. Perhaps, the most difficult part of being a creature with emotion, is admitting when you’re wrong, especially when your pride is hurt.

Having pride in who you are isn’t necessarily a bad thing, rather it turns negative depending on the founding reason behind it. It’s natural, considering all that you’ve been through to achieve what you have, to convince yourself you know what’s best. The hardest may be admitting that in certain situations of which you’ve been wronged, that you weren’t exactly right.  

Out of the seven deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth, I’ve found Pride to be the most psychology damaging. Pride takes away the faults you see in yourself. If you are unhappy and angry at the world, it’s because of everything else around. Your actions then morph around the idea that you are simply better or “different” than everyone else. Of course, you’d never say that, but it comes out in how you treat others.

A more genuine and stable self-worth is based upon validating, affirming, and valuing ourselves as we are. Self-worth is a function of living with dignity, which exists apart from any accomplishments. Achievements are ephemeral and can become a trap. If too much of our attention goes toward accomplishing bigger and better things in order to feel good, then we become addicted to external sources of gratification.

Why Pride Is Nothing to Be Proud Of by John Amodeo Ph.D., MFT

Two Types of Pride

Authentic pride. People who are confident, agreeable, hard-working, energetic, kind, empathetic, non-dogmatic, and high in genuine self-esteem would draw inspiration from others and would want to be emulated by others.

Hubristic pride. [People who are] associated with rocky relationships, low levels of conscientiousness and high levels of disagreeableness, neuroticism, narcissism, and poor mental health outcomes. [Their] subjective feelings of superiority and arrogance may facilitate dominance by motivating behaviors such as aggression, hostility, and manipulation.

Pride and Creativity by Scott Barry Kaufman

In seeing this, someone with hubristic pride would consider themselves to have authentic pride because ironically, it would be their pride that kept them from viewing themselves in a negative light. How do you know what type of pride you have then? Here are some signs:

  • Incessant need to teach others: You impose your way of learning onto others, rather than letting them find their own way. You genuinely feel as though it’s helpful, “sharing your knowledge,” but doing it consistently, particularly when others don’t ask, is a form of asserting your dominance and superiority.
  • Ignore advice: Despite all you debate about regarding a decision or situation, you don’t consider the words of others because understanding other people’s perspective is not of value to you. You talk about it only to self affirm you’re right.
  • Constantly Critical: You point out the negatives in people and their actions, yet these critiques don’t apply to you. It makes you feel better to point out the faults in others because of the shame you feel for your own.
  • Obsessed with Aesthetics: Vanity is a type of pride. When you equate your physical appearance to self-worth, you demand the attention of others. You want affirmation and attention to feel of value. You find passive aggressive ways to make others feel guilty about your condition like, “You could be fit like me,” or “I look so fat.”  
  • Avoiding efforts of communication: Holding grudges, resentment, and cutting people out of your life are all evidence that you have hubristic pride. By ignoring people, you deem them not worth your time, disregarding them as a person and labeling them as inferior.

In the divided opinions of today, people are quick to label others without understanding their perspective. There is a right and wrong, and if someone doesn’t agree with what that means to you, then they’re immediately lesser. We all deserve to be treated with respect, so we must treat others respectfully. In letting go of superiority and accepting humanity for what it is, we uncover the truth about ourselves.

Freedom, Independence, and Loneliness

Philosophy, Social

Outside, the sun shines through clouds, tempting those stuck behind a window, wishing they could feel it on their skin. As a prisoner of responsibility, one is never free of anything. There is always something keeping you back. When we think of freedom we think of it as having the capability to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Of course, the case isn’t true with the average person: there’s work, family, pets, bills, and so much more that we’re responsible for.

Freedom consists of three main principles:

1. The absence of human coercion or restraint preventing one from choosing the alternatives one would wish.

2. The absence of physical constraints in natural conditions which prevent one from achieving one’s chosen objectives.

3. The possession of the means or the power to achieve the objective one chooses of one’s own volition.

Rashan John, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India

What happens when you don’t feel free? You feel helpless, ashamed, weak, and hateful. Worse, it’s a feeling that you don’t often recognize. I know, because I’ve been there. Out of the three principles of freedom, I’ve felt most influenced by human coercion. Then again, who hasn’t? We all have family members or friends who tell us what we “should” and “should not” do. Everyone thinks they know better and constantly impose their way of thinking onto you.

At first, you’re rebellious, but after countless comments and hours of influence, you give in and become a person you never wanted to be in the first place. Better than that, you’re not allowed to dislike it. You’re not allowed to oppose others on how you want to be or act for they “know better.” You’re told that this it’s good for you, that these people care about you. In losing your ability to say no, you become miserable because you never thought you’d end up the way others wanted you to be.

Most people aren’t free, so they don’t want you to be. Your dream isn’t realistic because someone older and wiser couldn’t achieve theirs. You should care about making money more than doing what makes you happy because that’s what everyone else did. You can’t do what you want because you have other responsibilities. When you give into these notions, you normalize the negativity and spread it to others.

For a while, I thought freedom and independence were symbiotic. If I gained independence from others and control over my life, I’d be free. While it’s true that these two things coincide with one another, there’s a fine line to walk along when trying to find yourself without losing relationships. The pursuit can be lonely. Loneliness is life threating to a person’s psychological and physical state. A person can feel lonely in a room full of people, in a marriage or family. Being lonely means to feel disconnected, unable to share your thoughts.

“That solitude which we often lament in our life with others betrays our misunderstanding of its meaning. We live together failing to recognize what unites us. Thus even the smallest offense becomes a pretense for breaking down the bonds of trust.”

2019 An Epidemic of Loneliness

It’s difficult to share the pain with others. Especially the type of pain that comes with feeling out of control of your life. There are so many things we are all blessed with, and to express some negativity about how you feel in your current state, makes you feel guilty. You convince yourself that everyone around you is right and you are wrong, thus disconnecting from them because they couldn’t possibly understand.

Take Control of Your Life.

Humans have limits. If we aren’t capable of knowing our limit, our body will do it for us. Breaking the hold of those keeping us back is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough just to set yourself free. You need the support of the ones you love once you make your decision. Without people to share your highs and lows, you can feel lonely. But your loneliness is dependent on you. People do want to listen. They want to help. There are those out there who do love you and any decision you make. You have to just have to allow them to.