How to Be… of Genuine Service?
Ahh, to be genuine. It sounds so sweet. Yet, for many of us adorable humans who recognize that underlying fear of… “Not being enough,” we feel compelled to disregard being genuine; as it seems not to be safe. Rather, we feel obligated to seek after whatever version of ourselves that will make us “enough” in the eyes of others and the world.
Ohh the Adorable Insanity (fears)
The most classic example of this is an adult-child who is anxiously looking for, or trying to hang on to, their parent’s approval and support. Of course, the natural consequence here is that the adult-child doesn’t seek what is genuine within him/herself. They seek a version of themselves that they feel would win over the approval and support they are looking for.
Welcome to the world of pretending to be who you think other people want you to be, so you might one day capture the approval you imagine other people are withholding from you.
Not wrong, not bad, but… it is adorably insane. Insane, in the context of driving yourself mad over something that is nothing – at all.
Isn’t that a Survival Thing?
I’ve heard the argument many times that we, as humans, are wired to seek approval from others as an evolutionary survival mechanism. Supposedly, this forces us to belong to a group where our needs can be met, and the fear of being rejected is what keeps us on our best behavior in that group.
To me, that sounds like the mind’s genuine attempt to understand what’s going on in the human experience and put the puzzle pieces together. Although, I don’t agree that this is what’s happening. More so, that argument simply says we are forever a prisoner to the fears and inadequacies (insanities) of other people.
Humans, in the most beautiful way, are insane (of course, I’m talking about my human as well 😉).
Wanting someone else, who is insane, to approve of you – sounds like a compounded insanity that inevitably leads toward more confusion and suffering.
Case in point:
A parent who feels insecure (afraid of not being enough) in themselves has this (understandable) tendency to want their child to fill that void. In some way or another, it sounds like this…
- “If only my child were successful in the world, then I could see myself as a successful parent. Therefore, I need my child to match my idea of what success means, so I can conquer this sense of inadequacy I have within myself.”
Wait, doesn’t that fear of not being enough drive the parent to be a better parent?
No, it drives the parent to treat their child as an object or as an accessory to support the parent’s impossible quest of satisfying their ego. As the ego fears losing what it wants in the future to complete itself, it starts to withhold love from others as a means of manipulating them.
- Example: “My dear child, I need you to become a lawyer or a doctor. I need you to become what I want and not what you want. If you don’t, then I will see you as less than, and I will withhold aspects of my love from you.”
Naturally, when a parent is… less insane, there’s a greater tendency to support the child in discovering whatever is sincere for their, the child’s, journey. There is less demand for the child to conform because there is less fear (of not being enough) from the parent.
The more fear there is, then the more there will be the ‘need’ to control others.
The same insanity can be found elsewhere – and everywhere. Anywhere you find humans being humans – institutions, governments, communities, businesses, etc. – if there is the unmet fear of inadequacy or the clinging to a false sense of identity. Just look, you’ll see more of this madness that tries to control other people and make them conform.
How to be Genuine? (less insane)
In a way, it’s also like asking…
- “How can I stop pretending to be what others want me to be?”
You know, for many, there comes a point in life where we start to recognize the damage being done. Damage done to our own hearts and damage to others through our behavior that fears many things. Maybe, we can call it a… “Holy shit” moment.
Step 1: Understand the Why
In this “holy shit” moment, we stop, and we see just how important it is that we, somehow, find another way of moving in this life. We see, clearly and deeply, what we are doing is not only not working, but it’s going in the opposite direction.
So, the question of “how to be genuine” is, maybe, more accurately, “Why would I be more genuine?”
- The “How” only makes sense if there is the sufficient “Why.”
This points toward radical self-honesty and the attitude of devotional surrender.
Step 2: Release your prisoners
You cannot have for yourself what you deny to others; as you withhold your love from others, you are denying it to yourself. To receive it, you must first give it away.
Where are you denying permission for others to be genuine because you fear not being enough?
If I were talking to the parent, I might ask…
- “In what ways are you holding your child hostage because you’re afraid of other people thinking you’re not a good parent?”
If I were talking to the adult-child, I might ask…
- “In what ways are you holding your parent hostage because you’re afraid of losing or not getting their approval?”
If I were talking to the spouse, I might ask…
- “In what ways are you demanding your partner not be who they are because you’re afraid of what others might think about you?”
Step 3? Embrace a life of devotional service
Do you know what happens when we live a life that is so far removed from the sincerity of what we are? As in, we are living a life that caters to (and in service to) the opinions, expectations, and fears of others.
- We develop a short fuse and become easily irritated
- We waste mental energy that could be creative energy
- We blame others for our lack of self-accountability
- We lose ourselves in our relationships and in the world
- and so many other things you’re probably aware of…
On a Zoom call the other day, I asked someone to take some time and ponder a question that, I think, is relevant here. That question being…
Question Premise: Imagine that you’re invisible. Imagine that no one can see you for the rest of your life. And, with your remaining years on Earth, you had to spend your life in playful service. What I mean by this is: you have to serve and support others in a way that adds value to their life, but you can do it in any way you choose, according to your unique passions, interests, curiosities, and joys.
The Question: In what way or ways would you want to devote your life in service to others?
To Be… of Genuine Service?
There is the idea of what you “should” do, the idea of what service “should” look like – according to a fearful societal conditioning. And then, there is genuine service that is innate and inherent in the authenticity of everything that is – in what it already and really is.
The flower doesn’t “TRY” to be of service. The flower is innately in a state of genuine service, just being what it authentically is.
If the flower tries to be a bird because it thinks birds are more valuable, then the flower will fail at being of service because… it’s not a bird.
Likewise, if a human tries to be something that is not genuine, then it separates itself from its authentic and effortless flow of service; the service that Life/God has asked him/her to fulfill.
Life/God didn’t ask the flower to be a bird. Life/God asked the flower to be what it is, to be as it’s designed to be. The beautiful part here is that what the human is designed to be is found in the heart of your deepest authenticity, your most genuine way of being.
If the flower tries to be a bird, the flower will feel terribly inadequate. As it tries to be the bird, it sees the bird as better than itself. Clearly, the flower doesn’t see how beautiful and complete it already is, as it is.
As we come back to ourselves, as we release the silly insanities of trying to be something we are not (someone that we think others and the world want us to be). We begin to recognize that we are already whole and complete.
Of course, the more we see this, the more we see ourselves clearly – beyond the noise of the mind – we begin to recognize just how little there is to fear.
Honor Yourself… First
You know what makes it incredibly difficult to show up and serve well? Especially to show up in a way that is both joyful, playful, and productive…
Not taking care of myself.
As I’ve said many times before…
“If you don’t take care of the one who does the serving, then the one who is serving will provide a terrible service.”
Please don’t let the insanity of society convince you that it’s selfish to take care of yourself. What is selfish is to demand that other people prioritize taking care of you over themselves.
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