Do you ever find yourself tired of behaving nicely?
You will hear people whisper things to friends at parties or social gathers such as, ‘If I smile any longer my face may crack’, ‘If I have to be polite for one more minute I think I’ll scream’, ‘Will this nightmare never end?’ or ‘Can we go yet?’
One of the major issues people face being raised in a fear-based, right/wrong reality stems from having a certain set of socially acceptable mannerisms shoved down their throats as small children. These ‘manners’ are derived of a list of qualities that are judged as good, pleasing, polite, kind, and so forth. The qualities in and of themselves are fine; it is the way these qualities are forced onto children who are too young to actually feel them that causes serious issues for those children later on in their lives.
When a child is forced to smile, to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘It was nice to meet you’, the child develops a social mask that needs to be stripped away as an adult in order for the person to come into any level of authentic self-expression. This is because the child’s real feelings were not respected as valid; instead, the child was coerced into behaving superficially, often under threat of punishment or severe parental disapproval.
Kindness is a beautiful quality… when it is genuine. But as kids, many of us had the false behavior of acting kindly drilled into our brains in a very unkind manner. Some children would get the warning tone with the sternly spoken words, ‘Be nice’. Other kids would get the tone and the glare. Others would get the tone, the glare, and the pointy finger. Still others would get the tone, the glare and some kind of physical reinforcement – an elbow jab, hand smack, arm squeeze, full-body shake or cuff across the face, depending upon the level of parental anger present. And finally, some would get a combo of tone, glare, physical intimidation and punishment including but not limited to a ‘time out’, a spanking, a grounding or some other unnatural ‘consequence’.
What ends up happening for a child who is compliant is that the child will fall in line with the parent’s wishes out of fear, rather than actually cultivating the quality of kindness naturally. The child will feel obligated to behave kindly, yet will feel resentful because the behavior is mandatory rather than voluntary. For someone who was raised with a strong emphasis placed on good manners, as an adult they will most likely experience an underlying feeling of discomfort, stiffness or resentment even in situations where the quality of kindness could feel genuine. This is what happens when children are forced to behave a certain way in order to feel accepted.
As I went deep and explored the main face that I showed the world, I came to see that I’d taken on a role that wasn’t at all authentic. My main persona was a compilation of all of the things I’d been indoctrinated to believe a woman should be – good, meek, cooperative, kind, polite, caring, helpful – which led me to adopt completely dysfunctional, unhealthy patterns of behavior. There were behaviors of people-pleasing, over-helping, over-responsibility, perfectionism and a general overriding behavior of needing to smile and appear happy, positive or optimistic. All of which were fueled by major irrational thinking, tons of self-judgment and years of looking outside of myself for acceptance and approval.
Did you have any qualities or personality traits judged as ‘good’ pushed upon you as a child? See if you can label them.
The part of my personality I judged as ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ to show in public actually turned out to contain the weakest parts of my own character – my fears, co-dependencies, neediness, self-doubt, insecurities, and such were all motivating feelings behind the so-called ‘good’ behaviors of my main, public personality. When I was able to let this mask drop, the relief I felt was enormous. By applying the compassion on the inside, I gradually healed the resentment and came into a more natural way of being in social settings.
And, amazingly, many of those qualities I’d been demonstrating out of duty or obligation began to bubble forward quite naturally, of their own accord, in their own natural timing and with genuine feeling – kindness, caring, appreciation, gratitude, pleasure, joy, respect; these are all qualities of Loving that are an innate part of your natural, Loving essence.
I encourage you to begin to apply compassion liberally to your main personality for any and all times you acted a certain way in social settings in order to be viewed as ‘acceptable’. The truth is that you have always been accepted from your soul’s perspective. By dropping the social mask, you’ll be able to let your authentic Loving essence shine freely. Say, “I am now dropping the mask of social politeness and moving into my natural, authentic self-expression.”
Many Blessings of Joy and Vibrant Freedom
Action Step ~ Identify any character traits that you were manipulated into expressing as a child. Apply compassion liberally as you heal the beliefs and judgments attached to your social behaviors. Begin to become fully present during social situations and behave congruently with how you feel.
Declaration: I am now safe to be myself. I am now allowing my words, manner and expression to reflect my authentic state of Being in social circumstances. I accept myself no matter what.”