do you like me? do you? huh? huh?

neediness2

Remember *Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech? and what many found treacly enough to cringe at? I suspect it could’ve been her gigantically eager need to be liked.

I don’t find the moniker “likeable” a compliment. Passionate, fun, kind, dramatic, upbeat, creative, serious…those have meaning. Likable?? What does that say; that anyone can like you? Is that something to aspire to?

Here are two of the few axioms I gave my kids: Don’t throw a rock and hide your hand and If everyone likes you, you’re doing something wrong. Not that I was suggesting they deliberately rankle others but people-pleasing/brown-nosing wouldn’t have been honoring their Selves.

Needing to be liked thwarts us from showing our whole selves to others. That dysfunctionally emotional unfulfillable hole drives us to abandon or exile the “unacceptable” parts. The distorted, rearranged version we present to the world may fool others into thinking we’ve got it all together for awhile but, honestly, I think the only one fooled is us.

If you can’t see your Self except in the reflection of others, your mirror is not your own. You won’t even recognize your face. Toddlers are better at being true to themselves than most adults and at their tender ages their brains are designed to surrender authority to others in order to learn. Isn’t it possible that the bible verse, Become as little children, might mean transparently inhabiting our unabridged self while simultaneously owning our adult power?

Refusing to be the main character in your own life renders you ineffectual for genuine change or authentic connection. If you unmindfully take cues from others to determine your next move, thought, “feeling,” that means that your self-worth will be elusively and eternally out of your control and will be tied to what someone else ignorantly decides about you. You’ll adjust your behavior to be likable and as a result you’ll consciously or subconsciously feel like a sham, robbing yourself of the opportunity to bring your unique power to the world. That leads to failed relationships, addiction, depression, rage, narcissism, victimhood (in yourself or in others)…and a myriad of other social ills.

The truth is that we don’t need everyone to like us, but we do need a select few people to love us, to actually see us, to truly know us. If we won’t reveal our unmitigated self to others, then how can they truly receive us?

Ultimately though, the only person you really need to like you is YOU and that only happens when you’re authentically YOURSELF not some knock-off designed to be “likeable.”

*no criticism of Ms. Field or her exuberance intended

chin-up my ass

Head_up_ass

I live in a country (U.S.A.) of mostly muted emotions. Or the opposite: Jerry Springer. We’re a bi-polar nation addicted to the cerebral flip-flop between indulge/restrict, wanton/celibate, carnal/piety, sloth/extreme actions…  Not much middle ground, not much consistency, not much reality. It’s head living.

We’re often expected to be positive, smiling (especially if female) and eschew “politics or religion” in talk. In other words, stash any potential discussion that could evoke turbulent emotions. See pollyanna is passive aggressive.

Worse, keep “negative” feelings private or be done with them pronto. Lose your dog-familiar of 10 years? Get a new puppy! Break from an unhappy relationship? Hop back in that saddle! Your book of stories is rejected for the 17th time? Recirculate it! Make it happen! Serious inner work? Use affirmations! You have breast cancer and go through medical torture? Keep your chin up!

I loathe chin-upping!

As do kids, animals, plants, trees, stars, stones, rivers…  Okay, I don’t know for sure that all those things feel as I do but I do know that we ridicule and control children, teenagers and dogs when they display “brawny” passions, especially ones that make us feel something we’ve spent our lifetime stuffing down. They poke ours by innocently remaining with theirs and we hate on them for waking our sleeping giant.

The chin-up is a disguised critical voice and no matter how serene and sweet it sounds it still doesn’t permit “unfavorable” emotions to exist. Chin-upping is always in a hurry with its “sensitivity.” The sole way to dispel sad, angry, hateful, anxious feelings is to be with them in deliberate compassion…However. Long. It. Takes. Chin-upping doesn’t allow for that. People who insist you smile and make nice, people who label whatever emotion that scares them as “negative” don’t allow for that either.

Let’s take anger, a most despised emotion. Not rage—which is born when anger is unresolved—but anger which is a rational response to injustice; something’s wrong. It’s a motivating force. The issue isn’t anger itself, it’s finding relevant ways to rectify it. I suspect that only by appropriately expressing it can we truly let it go.

Maybe the “story” your anger attached to has inaccuracies but the emotion is unconditionally valid. Don’t throw out the feeling with that flawed narrative. It’s your job to use nuts & bolts thinking to view the anger with sincere interest—like a kindhearted parent—and hear why it exists instead of wishing it away. If you’re trying to extinguish it, you’re not listening.

Be with, without trying to fix. Encourage Self by accepting all emotions without good or bad labels. Embrace them instead of evicting them. Enable them to choose to get up and go organically instead of “chin-upping” them, which never works long-term.

Augusten Burroughs accurately observed that even with eager determination and a handful of maps you won’t get to California unless you know where you’re starting from. Ground yourself in your emotions, in your body. Your “truth” lives there.

p.s. Here I am, hanging with my “negative” emotion!

neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering ~ carl jung

As a counselor, I usually have compassion for the variety of coping mechanisms people use. But with Cognitive Dissonance—that’s trickier. In short, it’s believing one thing yet doing the reverse; it’s the reality between who we are and who we think we are. I find it a fancier name for denial, for lying, for hypocrisy, for delusion. Translation: the client doesn’t want to do the necessary work.

When most of us confront opposing wants, we have two choices: change our conduct for inner alignment to achieve integrity, or alter our attitudes and rationalize our behavior. Unfortunately, many are more prone to do the latter.

It’s “uncomfortable” to bring fantasy and reality together because suddenly it’s obvious what needs to be done and these depressing realizations mean we have a lot of work to do. Worse, we might have to face the fact that our “designs” are unfeasible. We might have to make an integris choice! We might feel pain! Yes, we will. Growth only happens in the land of reality.

Some examples: to be anti-birth control and yet pronounce abortion a sin, to believe in the sanctity of a glob of cells within a women’s body and yet adamantly endorse the death penalty, to be a vegetarian but eat chicken—poof! sleight of mind—conflict resolved. You no longer see it.

Unfortunately, I can, and so do most others. Cognitive Dissonance does reconcile our mind’s discomfort with incompatible thoughts and actions, but in a magical thinking kind of way. We hate to have our inconsistencies pointed out and will attempt all kinds of mental contortions to avoid them. Still, there’s a perverted leap over the truth. And a lot of secrecy, too.

This often occurs in marital affairs, where those involved are adrift in their created fantasies and fabricate a chimera rather than deal with the reality of their lives, their choices. Feels pretty immature and, honestly, spineless.

Because whatever you’re not dealing with, you’re passing on to someone else. Whether you intend to or not. See: now we’re cooking with gas(lighting). One of the major principles I taught my kids: If you throw a rock, don’t hide your hand. This meant they had to line their actions up with their thoughts and articulately stand by them. It taught them critical thinking skills which make it harder to inhabit the land of delusion. I respected my kids and their choices even if I sometimes disagreed with their “rock throwing.” Why? Because, at whatever age or stage of development, their intention was aligned with their whole Self.

I understand the need for resolution, I do. But I believe in conscience, too. Since when do people who compartmentalize not know what they’re doing? They do, and then they lie. To themselves, and to us.