Bury the masks, be human.

by Friday, January 2, 2015

A couple of months ago I watched a very powerful video about Vulnerability and I blogged about it here: Be Real. Be Vulnerable.

And when I read this particular Tweet today, it made me think about it again.

 

If the above is a psychology fact, then it immediately reconfirms what Brene Brown said in her video. And the lines that make the most sense are:

“The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”

Exactly. So the people who are busy numbing out certain emotions like disappointment, pain, grief, heartbreak… they’re the ones numbing out the joy, the gratitude, the happiness as well. Instead choosing to put on masks and live their lives like a Shakesperean play, where every body is an actor and the world is considered a stage. I disagree, strongly.

Let me ask you a question – why do we love babies? Because of their innocence? Because they don’t lie? If they’re happy, they show it. If they’re sad, they show it. They don’t wear masks, and they’re happy and content being who they are in the moment.

Why then, as we grow up, do we force/expect each other to behave a certain way at a certain time or place?

Yes there is professionalism, there is decorum, there is a time and place for everything. But more emphasis on these rather than on the very normal human conditions of being is what is forcing us to put on masks in our daily lives and be fake in this world of ours today.

Why can’t we just embrace the fact that we, and everybody around us, is first and foremost human? 

Example – If my colleague is going through a rough personal patch, will I hold it against her if she’s not her usual smiley self at work? No. If my house help is stressed about her ill mother back home will I hold it against her if she’s not smiling while bringing me my morning tea? No. If my significant other is stressed about work, will I hold it against him that he’s not laughing with me at a personal joke? No. EXACTLY. Because we have to ACCEPT where people are in those moments in their lives. And only when we accept, and show empathy, will there be no need for people to wear masks and hide their vulnerability.

Psychology research says it: The people who smile, laugh and joke around the most are usually the unhappiest.

I read it and it just made me sad. How fake do we feel we need to be in order to survive in this world? We have to hide our truth in order for what? To be accepted? To be liked by people? To be welcomed into a friend circle? To be deemed “good company”?

I know that when I’ve been going through a bad phase or been in a low mood, I’ve consciously stayed away from public gatherings and social scenarios, preferring to either be alone or just with one or two close friends who I can really talk to. And now when I think about it, the number one subconscious  reason behind that is the thought in my head “I’m not in a mood to smile, laugh and pretend to be happy”.

It’s true, what a friend said to me years ago – “Jyots, nobody likes being around a sobbing, sad person, so I’ve decided to stop talking about my heartbreak and get on with life.” 

It’s sad. He didn’t feel like there was much compassion or empathy around for what he was going through. So he faked the happiness till he numbed out the emotion behind the heartbreak. Only to find years later he was still not over it.

I especially see this problem with men. Taught to be macho, and hide their feelings from the beginning. Please, get over yourselves already.

Firstly, men are way weaker than women. Try having a baby (or twins, or triplets) come out of your bottom part, or even going through period cramps every month, and then we’ll talk about who’s stronger. Secondly, nobody cares about your ‘machoness’ unless its well placed and you’re actually in a moment when you need to take control of a situation. And thirdly, men are HUMAN BEINGS first. With the same feelings as any woman. They need to be taught that right from the start. So that they don’t go through life faking it, like most of them do.

The world would just be a more compassionate, more accepting place if we just realised a very simple thing – everybody deserves to be human first. 

Maybe then there wouldn’t be so many masks walking around.

Be human first – there’s not much dignity in anything else.

JS

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