The Daily Groove


Rethinking Sociality, Part 2

If you did the mindfulness exercise in Part 1 you may have noticed that being socially appropriate (i.e., doing/saying the "right" thing) frequently requires you to be inauthentic.

For example, in certain parenting situations you may feel social pressure to control your child when you'd rather be relaxed and accepting.

Quite often the real purpose of "being social" is to protect others from their own small-mindedness. Such is the case when mothers are pressured to avoid nursing in public.

So being authentic — even when it seems "anti-social" — may actually be more social, because it creates opportunities for others to question their limiting beliefs.

When you honor Who You Really Are — and you look beyond others' disempowering beliefs to honor Who THEY Really Are — you contribute to the greater good of society.

Today, whenever you choose authenticity over conventional sociality, decide that you are being social... They just don't know it yet! :)

More examples?

I like the IDEA of this, but even though I consider myself a very creative thinker I can't come up with a lot of situations in which this can apply.

Your one example, of breastfeeding, that makes sense. But when else? I would just love to hear a few more examples to get my own thinker working today. :)

Think less, feel more...

Your thinker works fine, melissa845, but you're feelers may require some attention. :)

In Part 1 I suggested being mindful of situations in which you feel like you're compromising your authenticity to be socially correct. If you've been conditioned to compromise like that all your life, you may have to amp up your emotional sensitivity just to feel it, but once you learn to recognize the unpleasant feeling of sacrificing your authenticity, you'll have plenty of examples.

How about this: Post two or three examples of when you recently felt inauthentic — when you would've responded differently if not for some social pressure — and I'll show you how to reframe each situation so that you can see how the authentic path IS the more social path. (Anyone may post examples... the more the merrier!)

Introversion

Thanks for a great article.

I suspect that introversion (i'm guilty) would lead to more pressure to bend our behaviours. The need for humans to conform is an extreamly powerful force on it's own. However, as I grow older (i'm 50 with two young children), I find that it is much easier to shirk the world, and do what i believe my little ones should see in my behaviour. The reletively recent discovery of the mirron neuron system in humans reinforce the 'lead and teach by example' methodology that was drilled into me growing up as a big brother of 3 younger brother. Still, there are times when I'm diverted by the social pressures you mention. Here are a couple off the top of my head.

1. Children are loudly playing in the grocery store and I'll "rein them in". At home they run wild. (Have a blast when your young kids. I did.)

2. Strangers come to visit. I don't want the people to think I'm raising animals right?

3. I expect them to behave as I would (an adult) when we visit the doctor or dentist. I feel guilt about this sometimes. Going there should also be fun for them. But I don't let them. (But that's not the way it'll be from now on in!)

-- I Was Blind and Now I See.

Thanks.

Reframing

Hi Rick... I'm not sure if you were responding to my request for situations to reframe, but your examples are excellent, so I'll respond as if you were...

1. Children are loudly playing in the grocery store and I'll "rein them in".

Reframe: I'm serving the other people in the store as I demonstrate how joyful life with children can be when their spirited nature is honored and appreciated. If someone glares at me in judgment, I look beyond their limiting mindset and offer a smile to their "inner child" who would probably love to join my children in play. They also see me using my creativity to be a kind of "buffer," gently/playfully influencing the kids towards expressing their freedom in ways that don't impose on others.

2. Strangers come to visit. I don't want the people to think I'm raising animals right?

Reframe: Of course I'm raising animals! Humans are animals with natural inclinations, and by understanding and working with my children's nature, and allowing them to adapt to the social environment in accord with their intrinsic drive toward belonging in ever-expanding social circles, I'm showing these strangers that it's possible to have faith in human nature. They may not fully "get" it until they see my children 10 years from now — that somehow they learned to use clothing, silverware, toilets, etc., without having been forcefully trained.

3. I expect them to behave as I would (an adult) when we visit the doctor or dentist.

Reframe: My children bring lightness and joy even to places where people are in fear. I love thinking that some adult who is nervous about dental work or medical issues might be pleasantly distracted by my little joymongers!

Sociality without kids

I DO have kids, and I really appreciate this post from a mother's perspective! I was just thinking of my own introverted tendencies, and how I frequently feel pressure to "be social" and to "say the right things"...and how inauthentic I feel when I try to conform to "being social"! Is there a way to reframe my thinking about this? I do want to set an example to my children of being an authentic person, but I also don't want to alienate everyone I know because I prefer to spend time alone than with them.

-I tend to decline invitations to mingling-type events.

-I usually prefer spending an evening alone (or, at least, at home with my family) to spending it with a friend.

-In small groups, I don't usually contribute much to a discussion because I am taking it all in...listening and processing. (Being quiet can come across as snobby, so I feel pressure to speak up and show that I'm friendly.)

Are there ways of reframing these examples? I love this post as it relates to my kids...now I'm hoping to apply it it my own self! Thanks!