Several years ago, I began to recognize and explore what I then called programs but now have learned are called the social constructions of reality. Everything we believe and how we interact is based on this social construction. It is only a reality because we believe it, and we agree to it. There really is no race, gender, or the myriad of other identities we have come to accept as our own or that of the others. Every piece is a social construct that we have agreed to. I mention this because one of those social constructs is at the forefront for me recently. That is the ideology surrounding negative and positive and how things are supposed to be—this idea surrounding positive and negative emotions and our perception of them.
Western society has created several acceptable versions of many things. We hold up what is deemed a healthy thirty-year-old as what we should look like, no blemishes, perfect body, healthy minds, and most importantly, successful; all believed as positive and socially acceptable norms. Most of us are striving and longing for this moment we measure up. And for me, I see the behaviors and beliefs extracted from this social construct is what makes me believe I am not quite good enough. I understand where these behaviors and beliefs formed and wish to make changes to create new experiences. I want to stand firm in my energy, knowing I am okay, even desirable as a friend, spouse, and professional.
It is so interesting how our perceptions are created—the journey to opening to look at our bias allowing us to become aware of them. The last week I opened and allowed myself to be vulnerable by sharing a small part of the trauma I had experienced. We all have this relationship to our experiences that have shaped us. The environment we grew up in and those relationships impact our behaviors and current relationships. These behaviors were formed there during that time, in those places, and it is our responsibility to reshape those behaviors if we desire a new experience.
Interestingly, I had several reactions to my vulnerability—the reactions of others a testament to their own experiences, which have shaped their perception. I faced my anger and rage with courage regardless of the reactions of others. And I continue to go against the norms to raise some awareness and deeper questions. There is a deep shame I continue to work through, a shame that I am not the perfect unblemished, both physically and emotionally, superwoman society says I am supposed to be.
I stimulated toxic shame, blame, and guilt in others with my sharing. I am looking further at why this is such a typical learned response. Most people do not want to venture here; it doesn’t feel good. And in this social construct, we do not desire to experience things that do not feel good. Many of us a so focused on avoiding anything that makes us uncomfortable we have created lives built in lies and lack of authenticity. I say THIS is the problem. Instead of looking at what we can do to make things better, why don’t we look more in-depth at why these things are happening at all. It takes a great deal of courage to face these behaviors, taking a more in-depth approach at the social constructs, and understand our perceptions.
It only begins with us, each of us, with a willingness to step away from the toxic blame, shame, and guilt that have kept us, prisoner. Feeling good might eventually be on the other side of the discomfort this process initially brings. Change is sometimes uncomfortable at first but brings a new experience. It is taking responsibility for our part in this socially constructed reality.