Being real, and allowing yourself to be seen and fully present in your interactions, is both desired and avoided in society.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting. e e Cummings (1894 – 1962)
Socializing groups is a way of transmitting values and beliefs. This is an important aspect of living in groups. But what about when this transmission of how to be in the world is so strong it strangles individuality and unique styles. This is when the power of the group overtakes the empowerment of the individual.
Hermann Hesse (1877 -1962) wrote a number of powerful novels about authenticity, spirituality, and search for self. These had themes focusing on the issue of group versus individuality, Demian, Siddhartha, Kingsor’s Last Summer, Narcissus and Goldmund, and Journey to the East. His final book Magister Ludi, also known as the Glass Bead Game, struggled directly with this issue.
When do the needs of the group overtake the needs of the individual and visa versa?
This is an important question for us as a society and as individuals.
Bullying is a form of socialization.
When focused from an individual power issue, it has to do with a power hierarchy. We see this in the animal world and we see it among young children of both genders in elementary through high school. The individual is working to deal with his individual power position within the group.
When it is in a system or group environment, the group is attempting to enforce conformity.
When faced with a bullying situation it is important to identify which is happening – is it the group forcing conformity or is it an individual power issue. The answer to this will inform you as to how you can best help the individual faced with the bullying situation.
In the school environment this can also help you to redirect the “bully’s” aggression and power issues. In a group environment individual development will determine the best course of action for the identified “victim”.
I have put “victim” and “bully” in quotation marks because they need each other to exist; these are survivor/victim/perpetrator scenarios. Only by assisting both parties to see their distortion regarding the power issue can real change and peace be accomplished.
In Bullies to Buddies Izzy Kalman writes that we need to not react like a victim to the truth or to lies by giving away our power. He says when victims stop being victims, bullies stop bullying, or at least it diminishes their power to bully.
His theory informs us that knowing yourself, being real, and acting from your center, is the best way to escape the negative effects of being bullied.
This concept of truth, or reality, as what we allow to have power over us in our inner picture of ourselves and our outer actions is found in many philosophical traditions.
However, sometimes information from our enemies is of much better use than information from our friends. Our enemies don’t buy our story, and as a result they can see what we may be trying to hide and they can use it against us. Inside those treacherous acts are gifts of gold and healing IF we can get through the pain of hearing the truth without the takeover. This is underlying the anecdote of keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
The idea of sifting through painful criticism or observation to find the kernel of truth can help you use your limitations or failings to your benefit.
Our mistakes, when seen as missed takes or missed steps, can help us to understand both ourselves and others more holistically. Learning from our mistakes allows for a re-take, a shift in our perspective and our actions.
It is in this perspective, where the idea of attachment is pronounced.
If you have an attachment to what something should look like or how you should be (insert a need for something to look a certain way or you to be perfect) than a mistake feels insurmountable. The attachment keeps you stuck, unable to re-take and shift your perspective, or paradigm.
Attachment interferes with your ability to engage mindfulness and centeredness in your internal review of the situation and disallows your ability to place the mistake within context, with a realistic degree of meaning.
Attachments can take all forms. They are a way of viewing the world and your actions so that you are compelled to act in a certain way and can feel unable to be who you really are.
Creating an accurate and empowering internal self-picture requires a willingness to see yourself with neutrality and compassion. Compassion allows for passion rather than attachments to guide your actions. Here I am using the word passion as spirit, an inner push to create and act from your true self.
Marlo Thomas wrote a children’s book in 1974 called Free to Be You and Me. The book was designed to assist children in opening their horizons and discovering their true inner nature and acting from that space in creating their identity and career paths.
The idea of free here is to be free of attachments and limiting paradigms of what or who you can be. It encouraged allowing your inner passion to guide you in determining who you are from the perspective of how you wanted to be in the world.
This idea of freedom is about being real, free of unwanted enforced conformity, or phony facade dictated from the social environment.
Evaluate what aspects of how you see the world are transmitted from your personal culture and in what ways these may be holding you back from your true self-expression.
Allow yourself to be comfortable with real-ity so that you can model this comfort, acceptance, and compassion for your children. This allows them to embrace those values that are truly of value to you in their internal self-development.
This is an empowering attitude to transmit to your children.
It is the best vaccine for bullying and for insecurity.
It teaches them to seek guidance from within to determine who they are and how they want to be in the world. In this way they will be able to bend but not break under the pressure of conformity. This results in self-love, positive self-esteem and self-confidence, and a true inner light to guide them through the world.
See you tomorrow.