It's wonderful that we care enough about treating one another well that we enforce a set of codes and social norms to regulate how we communicate and behave. It's wonderful that we care enough about our collective evolution to make sure that we aren't just running around destroying each other all the time (oh, wait). But seriously: there's a dark side to social normalcy, particularly when you have to go into mental and emotional stress to be able to maintain it. The interesting thing is that it's not the suppression of our desire to kill, or mate, that screws us up: it's the denial of our thoughts and emotions, the ones that are more like opinions and actions that would create self-actualization. That's what we struggle with.
And for what? So much of what we consider to be "right" and "good" is so deeply the opposite of that, it almost hurts. We think that it's best to lie to a friend over something so their feelings aren't hurt, as opposed to being able to say: "Sure, this thing you're worried about is true, but so what?" The very act of making it a "no-no" subject reinforces that it's "bad," when in fact it's ... not. Likewise: being somewhere when you don't want to be, RSVPing yes to the weddings you don't want to go to. If it were your wedding, would you ever want someone sitting there thinking: "I'd really rather be anywhere else right now?" Yeah, didn't think so. But you probably also never thought of it that way. So here are a few commonly accepted "polite behaviors" that are in fact the opposite.
Not Answering The Question: "How Are You?" Honestly
What world we'd live in if when asked how people are, they responded: "Stressed, honestly. I mean, I had a good weekend but I'm nervous about losing my job, we're still not out of the red, and honestly, my relationship is strained over it." What. A. World.
Dissecting People's Problems For Them — And Without Them
A totally normal conversational topic is other people's problems, and how easily they could solve them. We call this being concerned, and being a good friend, when effectively, it's a demonstration of the opposite.
Going Somewhere You Don't Genuinely Want To Be
Do not sit at someone's party, or dinner, or wedding (!) thinking, "I would rather be doing anything but this." Just don't do it. It's honestly better to look like a flake than to pretend to be a friend.
Being Indirect About Rejection
You know what happens when people are indirect about saying "no?" The person on the receiving end of that conversation hears every possibility but "no." You need to be able to say: "I'm just not feeling this, but thanks!" Rather than making excuses.
Not Telling The Truth Because It Seems Harsh
You know what's harsh? Living your life without realizing the people closest to you refuse to tell you the truth about it because they're afraid you won't respond well. If you care about someone, tell them what they need to hear in the most loving, compassionate way possible. It's the kindest thing you can do.
Telling Someone They Were Being Discussed Without Their Knowledge
No, they don't "deserve to know." Unless they need to know, don't bring it up. Unless there is some action that needs to be taken, or some emergent situation that needs to be addressed, they do not need to hear rumors and other bullsh*t that will do nothing but have them awake all night dissecting it.
Images: Giphy (3); Unsplash