Monday, March 24, 2014

Self-interest or self-defense?

How to Stop Giving a F*ck What People Think

Many of us like to shape our images to prove that we just don't care what anyone thinks of us.   We like to put it out there that we are the outliers, the rebels, the mentally and emotionally off-the-grid humans who are completely at ease in our own skins and at home with our connection to the planet.

We like to lie.  To ourselves and others.  Daily.

Now, this is an outlier!  Apparently capable of using scissors,
this doe was unthwarted by deer netting and just cut herself a door
to the tomato patch.

I'm not suggesting that there do not exist those among us who actually fit that schematic.  I've met a few folks who truly do appear to be removed from the stress of fitting a mold created by others.  I'm not one of them.

I can say with certainty that the mold-fitting urge does lessen with age.  It lessens, but it doesn't disappear.  No matter how many times we repeat to ourselves the mantra I first heard on Oprah years ago that "you wouldn't worry what people think of you if you realized how rarely they do", I still find myself scanning catalogs for the most up-to-date styles in fashion, philosophy, and lifestyle.  Just this week I had to do some serious research to find exactly what I "should" be wearing to the next event I'm scheduled to attend.  I did start in my closet, but that's not where I ended up.

At least I haven't bought a purple dress and red hat so I can blend with the scenery at every event in the world where the "outliers" show off their lockstep finery.

The irony is that even the whole "off-the-grid" thing is driven by the accolades of the influencers in our society.  There's just no escaping the pressure, even if it's pressure to be somehow apart from it.

If your head hurts now, that's as it should be.  We humans spend an inordinate amount of time testing ourselves against a set of norms and requirements that came to us from nowhere in particular and are apparently mandatory, though the punishment for failing to achieve is amorphous at best.

Those of us who have animals in our keep are lucky that we have some connection to the real world.  It's part of what keeps us from spinning (mentally) off the planet.  The more animals we have, the less likely we are to be caught up in the minutiae of style and the need to belong to a tribe, right?

Nope.  Not right.  Not even close to right.  As this study and this news report indicate, the need to belong is a survival instinct.  Without the group's approval, we are on our own in a hostile environment.  Even off the grid, we need approval and the help of the other members of our chosen tribe to find what we need to maintain our lives.
Is it even possible to be a DQ and an outlier?
I think that would make the world implode.
And who ever thought this was a great look?  Sheesh!

So the big issue isn't whether you can get through a day without wondering what someone else thinks of you.  The issue is finding the right tribe.  And it's not just about which philosophy is your mode du jour.  It's about what is safe, sane, and reasonable given the restrictions of your life.  You aren't going to cut the cord, but you can sure pick a cord that is worth tying yourself to.

When it comes to our personal lives, there's a lot of leeway in that worthiness.  We can change modalities in a heartbeat, and we do.  But when we are responsible for the lives and well-being of others, human and non-, then we have to be pickier.  The small change we make in our equine care-taking today can translate into a huge improvement a month from now or chaos.  Our choices in training and management techniques for our animals shouldn't be based on the latest trend on Facebook or the coolest equipment in the new catalogs.  In that area our animals really are like our children (do not use the "furbaby" term around me, please) in that they are incapable of explaining themselves or accommodating our crazy whims without some unexpected side-effects.

We need our relationships to survive.  We need our sanity to keep our relationships from falling off into the morass of lunacy that's swirling around us.  Doing a cost/benefit analysis of our relationships isn't the hardest or the worst thing we can do to ensure that those depending on us aren't suffering for our choices.

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