Whether we like it or not, our psyche is sensitive to our place in the world of belonging. We have a deep need for inclusion, as if the fabric of our being is woven into a greater cloth. Our very survival is threatened if our strand becomes a loose end or if we fear or find we are no longer embedded in the warp and weave of a social context. It is a sign of our humanity, not of weakness, when we are cut to the core by cues that we are unwanted, disliked, and unloved. We each are deeply dependent on the culture and social connections of the world around us.
If shunned and cast aside, very few could survive for long alone in a state of nature or isolated from human contact. Action motivated by a desire to curry favor or win affection is not a sign of immaturity, or a character flaw. It is an expression of our deep need for inclusion, to participate in, be a part of, and belong to a social network.
On the other hand, we rightly admire those who cut their own cloth, who follow their own path, who go against the grain, sticking to their own values when the whole world spins another way, and who seem unconcerned about the judgment of society, or beyond its reach. Such admiration, however, is misplaced when it extends to those who "stand their ground" by belittling, berating, and bullying others, those who use their power to squash anyone who opposes them or who stands up against them, or those who attack anyone who raises questions about the ethics of their behavior or the damaging impact of their words.
There are several particular times we show what we are made of: 1. In traumatic or difficult times; 2, When facing challenges; 3. When dealing with conflicts; and 4. When coping with criticism. How do you handle feedback about your beliefs, ideas, or behavior? What do you do when "criticized?"
These are not signs of a strong person who stands on their own values, but signs of a weak person whose roots are so shallow that the slightest wind threatens the whole edifice. The answer to criticism for such a person is swift and complete denial and destruction of the source of criticism. These people surround themselves with yes-men, issue vitriolic outbursts against all who question them, repeatedly cast doubt on any other source of information than their own, use distraction off topic to other matters, and create a deluded world of “alternative facts." Do you know anyone who behaves this way?
Please share your thoughts and opinions below.