Some Things I Don’t Know About Social Oppression, and More I Didn’t Know About Self-Oppression

“This is the ultimate misery: living a life that is not our own.” – Brendon Burchard

Just last night I was thinking to myself about how ever since I was a very young person I’ve given in and allowed other people — often cruel, small-minded people — to guide my behavior and my life. Not to blame them for any dissatisfaction with the way my life has turned out, because the choice to succumb and hide my true self has always been mine.  Then this morning I coincidentally came across an insightful and powerful section in Brendon Burchard’s Motivation Manifesto on social oppression that completely described my dilemma.

For all the recognition I’ve received for being different, for non-conformity, for thinking outside the box, I have, for my entire life, nearly completely been someone designed by those around me.

This is something I have known and acknowledged to myself all along. I was most aware of this surrender and masking of my true self during grade school. Examining my childhood, though, I suspect it began even before then, at home, in effort to best please and most easily pacify my parents, especially dad, and other adults around me.

I remember never fitting in with other kids at school. An especially strong memory of being teased by a group of (dumb, cruel) boys on a school field trip sticks out to me as a turning point where I accepted one of the worst lessons I ever could have and consciously decided to hide my real self and stifle my intellect. To appease those kids, who I didn’t even know and whose opinions shouldn’t have had any weight on my behavior, I chose to stop expressing who I really was.

That’s sad. What’s sadder is I continued living that way, actively concealing my real thoughts and hiding my true potential throughout the rest of my school years, and beyond.

Sadder than that, even: I still didn’t fit in.

The real tragedy, though, the worst, most horrendous and terrible effect of letting other people shape my behavior and outward identity, was not the accumulation of poor decisions and record of underachievement. It was the inner conflict I suffered. The person I knew I was meant to be fought to rise up, to burst out into the light of day, stayed in constant battle with self doubt, fears of rejection, and, over time, the conditioning of being held dormant.

That conflict and denial of self created all kinds of problems. Depression, naturally. Anger. During periods of my life it manifested in selfishness and hedonism. And a near constant search for meaning and happiness that I could never quite reach.

I fooled myself for a very long time that keeping my real self submerged was actually a good thing, that it was an exercise in discipline. I believed I was a master of self control, even though my behavior and choices often proved otherwise. In reality, I was a prisoner of fear and a victim of ease and comfort.

Another level of self-deception disguised itself as a bizarre strategy for performance at school and work. I’d foolishly convinced myself to purposefully downplay my abilities and let people underestimate me, so that in a dramatic move I could surprise them later with results beyond their expectations. A twist on the under promise, over deliver rule. The problem was, by underachieving, I often left my actions at that lower level of expectation and failed to spring the big reveal. So that led to a cycle of frustration and added to my dissatisfaction and disappointment with myself.

Well, it ain’t happening any more.

The people in my life deserve better. I deserve better. I can’t be the best person I can be, to help others and contribute fully, if I’m in a constant state of hiding and using up all my energy struggling between my real self and who I think people want me to pretend to be.

Not that it will be easy. A lifetime of suppression and decades of malignant habits will be difficult to overcome. It’s not like throwing open a cage door and running out free. But the door is at least open. I expect I’ll need to work just as hard to push my actual self out front as I did to hold it back. Fortunately, the psychic muscles I’ll need for that are strong after years of flexing.

If you’re someone around me who (believes they) know me, I ask for your patience and understanding while I work on this. I can use your help and encouragement too. You can definitely count on the same from me.

It’s a damn shame it’s taken me this late in life to make this move. I believe a lot of people have similar difficulties with social oppression. I sure hope they find their way free earlier than I did.

Although I came to my own conclusions about my issue, the section in Brendon Burchard’s Motivation Manifesto on social oppressions so clearly expressed the same struggle, it opened my eyes wider. So much of what he identified on only three pages resonated with my experience. I completely recommend his books and teachings for everyone, but if you are suffering from trying to appease those around you at the expense of your own spirit, I believe he offers some special guidance. There’s been an offer recently to get a free copy of The Motivation Manifesto and an accompanying online study. If it’s still available, by all means take advantage of it.

What I Don’t Know About Obfuscation as a Business Tactic

Grownups have probably known this for a while already, but making billing complicated to the point of confusion is a despicable way to make an extra buck. Changes in consumer laws which have been meant to make credit card and banking charges more transparent stand as proof that the practice is not only ethically objectionable, but illegal as well. In times when customers have so many ways to publicly express dissatisfaction, it surprises me to know some businesses continue to implement the tactic.

I’m used to expecting odd charges to dispute on insurance and medical bills. The arcane intricacies of medical coding seemed designed just for that purpose. I should be used to it from the local car dealership, but they got me again yesterday. Charged twice for an item, with the statement so hard to understand it got past me until I got home. This is the same dealership that added overpriced windshield wipers to a bill several months back when I didn’t ask for them or need them. Fooled me twice, shame on me, I know. Why I let it happen, I don’t understand. I usually watch the monitor when I’m buying groceries to make sure they’re ringing up correctly. I should do the same when it comes to the car and look over my bill carefully BEFORE paying. Dang but I hate being pound foolish.

I’ll straighten things out tomorrow when I return to pick up the part I ordered. The one for which they charged me twice.

What I Don’t Know About Hot Irons

I started a new writing project today. No, I’m not done with Dead Man’s Party, although I plan to have that completed soon.  This new concept came to me last night, and I believe it is a pretty good one.  It definitely has potential.
I mapped out some of the characters, background, and a general premise for the new thing, then wrote a few hundred words of a beginning.  I like the way it has shaped up so far, even if “so far” is not really very far at all yet.
I’ve done this before, of course.  Some new, exciting idea comes around and sticks in my head, begging for development.  I get caught up, think through possibilities.  That’s how I started at least a dozen other projects.  Never finished them, though.
Some wound up not being such great ideas once I put in some work to refine them.  Others remain as possible future projects, when I have more time or the right motivation to make them worthwhile.
Timing is important in many things, inspiration especially.  Lucky enough to have a day off to develop this new concept, it would be wasteful and regrettable to not give it a shot.

What I Don’t Know About Keeping Perspectives in Perspective

Dad never liked to tell people “you should,“¹ even though his experience and wisdom could easily give him such authority.  He preferred to offer options and let the other person decide how to proceed, even if the decision was to do nothing at all.  Likewise, I hesitate to offer unsolicited advice, at least when doing so doesn’t lead to additional harm to anyone.  While my goal is to be mindful of my actions, I understand that isn’t the case with everyone.  Even if it was, how do we know what we consider to be logical, thoughtful actions are accepted the same way by others?  I don’t think we always can.  It depends too much on personal perspectives.

I have a lot of experience cashiering in retail settings.  As a cashier, I have felt disrespected and considered the customer rude when they don’t hand their cash or form of payment to me.  Especially when they drop it on the counter in front of me.  I know other cashiers feel the same way.  So we try to always think of the cashiers when we are making a purchase, and hand the money or card to them pleasantly.  It’s a little thing, but we know how much it can matter.

My girlfriend is a nurse.  Although she also has cashiered in retail, it has been a long time for her.  In that time, working in a hospital, she has come to understand just how filthy and germ-covered things can be.  Including money.  Including cashiers’ hands.  I’ve noticed that when she makes a purchase at a store, she often doesn’t put it in the cashier’s hand.

Our perspectives, based on our experiences, are different.  Am I wrong?  Is she?  I don’t know that either of us are.

¹A lot of what I know — and don’t know — I picked up from my dad.  You’ll probably notice that in my posts.

Won/One

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve liked to think of myself as being progressive, looking more toward the future and what’s next than to the past.  Truth is, though, I enjoy the symbolism of traditions, especially those involved with the New Year.  Making a new start, and having a point from which to review and resolve to change, correct, or improve is, to me, a worthwhile and even exciting project.  This year, though, I believe I’ll follow a growing trend to NOT make new year’s resolutions; instead I will be satisfied to set some simple goals for the upcoming year.  At this time next year I guess I can look back to see how simple they turn out to be.

I want to continue to be more honest and more considerate with others.

I’d like to put some real work into the book I started writing (and made very little progress on) last year.

I’d like to meditate with some frequency.

I’d like to exercise my writing skills with some frequency.

I’d like to waste less time in front of the computer and TV.

I think that will do it.