By Harry Petsanis and Donna McCance
Conformity means to be in compliance with rules, laws and standards. When we conform, we adapt our beliefs so we align with the beliefs of a group.
Sometimes people conform to fulfill their desire for acceptance, approval, and feelings of belonging to a group. Other times people conform because they fear reprisal, punishment, and humiliation from the disapproval of not being like everyone else.
There are times when people make a conscious decision to change their beliefs to match the crowd, and there are times when people conform simply as an outward appearance, while still maintaining their own beliefs. The goal of many people is to dissuade you from being independent and to condition you to be dependent on them.
The problem with conformity arises when standards are defined. Everyday people compromise who they truly are to meet the standards of acceptance set by other people, which can change at the drop of a hat. Their desire to be accepted and not make waves results in passive-aggressive behavior.
Control is intertwined with conformity. We are conditioned to conform from the day we’re born, whether it be the family unit, the educational structure, or a societal norm. Guilt and manipulation are so heavy handed, it eliminates a chance for an individual to become an individual. In education, it’s sit here, wait to eat, raise your hand, don’t talk now, stay in your seat, read this, study that, eat this, wait until everyone needs to use the bathroom.
Control is also intertwined with power. People don’t understand the true definition of power. People seek positions of power because they believe and have been convinced that power is control and leverage. In their youth, they watch adults control them to the point where they feel helpless, thriving until they reach a time when they can control others, thinking it puts them in control of their own lives. Power then becomes self-serving.
Children suffer from the repetitive behaviors that are forced upon them by insecure adults who lack self-esteem, self-confidence, and are lazy. It becomes a cycle of repeating and regurgitating the same forced lessons that had been imposed upon them onto the next generation. These things are done with the conveyance that if everyone is “on the same page,” the machine or the mechanism will work smoothly.
When children enter adulthood, they take with them the life altering, life damaging habits that conditioning caused them to develop. They express themselves in unhealthy, unproductive ways because they never learned about healthy communication and honest expression. They hold back their true feelings because they learned that when they’re honest, they will suffer the ramifications of negative consequences.
"Authenticity is living life according to your beliefs, opinions, and instincts.
Authenticity is breaking free from control, guilt, and fear.
Authenticity is living in a space of original thought.
Authenticity is living on your terms.”
You can develop a new mindset to help guide you toward being authentic. Examine your life and experiences. Reflect on the times your authenticity was compromised. When you’ve done this, you can think about how you can change your mindset to move yourself on a path of authenticity. Reflect on who you have become, who you truly want to be, and take steps to change.
One way to start examining your life is by writing a journal and allowing yourself to process your experiences, some of which may feel uncomfortable. This can be a helpful and reflective practice. Think about the times you gave in to others, such as when you felt pressured, wanted to be liked, were afraid to speak up, didn’t want to disappoint, etc. Think about your upbringing and document situations when the expectations to conform affected your authenticity.
The times when people are comfortable with conformity is when it comes from an organic place of it being their choice. People understand the consequences of not following laws. However, many rules and standards have been subjectively developed by people. People should be able to make a choice of whether or not they wish to comply, not forced to comply.
Read our blogs on Authenticity (October 25, 2021 ) and Passive-Aggressive Behavior (November 22, 2021) for more insight into each topic to help you understand and develop a healthier mindset.
About the Authors
Harry Petsanis is a philosopher of human nature, mindset specialist, and lifelong fitness and wellness advisor. He is a writer and author, with three published books: “The Truth is A Lie,” “The Logical Path To Life,” and "Knowing Me from A to Z, A Child's Mindset," which he co-authored with Donna McCance, M.Ed.. Harry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He has an intense passion for psychology and the human condition.
Donna McCance, M.Ed. is a business administrator, writer, author, licensed teacher and principal/vice principal with over 20 years experience teaching in elementary education and educational leadership. She has a Masters in Education, Masters in Human Services Management, Bachelors in Business Administration and Associates in Business Administration.
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The Truth is A Lie" and "The Logical Path To Life"
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"Knowing Me From A to Z, A Child's Mindset"