We live in a world that values sameness. We live in a world where wars are waged and violent hate and discrimination flourish as the result of the intolerance that exists in the face of difference. It takes courage to be who you really are. Are you ready to be who you really are? Do you know who you really are? Or are you still lost, to some degree or other in groupthink?
You must first come to an active and aware choice to want to know who you really are before you can truly begin the process of finding and/or strengthening your authentic self. A process that will open up an inner-world in you the lens of which you will then see the outer world through in new, different, and much more profound ways.
The way that you see and experience the world if you don’t know who you really are is often more narrow than you might have ever thought it to be. It is this experience of the world from a lacking or fragile foundation of authentic self that so many people mistakenly believe that there is assurance, predictability, safety, and therefore comfort in sameness.
The less you truly know who you really are the more you are likely to feel threatened by difference. Why is that? Well, the less you truly know who you really are, the easier you can experience your values, morals, goals, sense of self, self-confidence and/or self-esteem (or lack thereof) shifting with the company you keep. You may also notice these confusing and/or alarming shifts in how you feel about a wide variety of things shifting based upon what you think the majority thinks.
Societal pursuit of sameness is really about the want and need for systemic power and control. A certain amount of that systemic power and control is thought to be a positive thing. The power and control required systemically for government and institutions to function for example. However, absolute power, beyond any doubt, corrupts absolutely. Nothing in life is perfect. Therefore, the societal delivery of service, for example, tends to pressure its members to conform to its own collectively-individual groupthink.
Groupthink is a term that was coined by Irving Janis (1972), a social psychologist. It occurs when a group makes faulty decisions. Group pressures lead to a deterioration in “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgement.” (Janis, Irving
L.Â (1972).Â Victims of Groupthink. New York: Houghton Mifflin)
Symptoms of Groupthink
Janis has documented eight symptoms of groupthink:
- Illusion of invulnerability: “Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
- Collective rationalization: “ Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
- Belief in inherent morality: “ Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
- Stereotyped views of out-groups: “ Negative views of a €œenemy make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
- Direct pressure on dissenters: “ Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
- Self-censorship: “ Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
- Illusion of unanimity: “ The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
- Self-appointed: mindguards: “ Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.
Any combination of any or all of the above eight symptoms of groupthink can effect how you think. How you think in turn effects what you choose to value or conversely what you may well choose to devalue. Groupthink robs its participants of the authentic self they would otherwise make decisions from. It robs one of his/her own well-thought out values, morals, and even goals for that matter.
Groupthink robs a person of his or her own personhood. Groupthink is rampant in our world today. From a class of children in school who already know enough about the value of sameness to band together to tease, ridicule, and/or bully any child who is different for whatever reason to an organized religion that condemns those who do not agree with it to hell, sameness is effectively taught societal groupthink.
It takes courage to be who you really are. It takes courage to dare to stand up for what you believe in and what you think from a perspective that respects differences with or from others in a compassionate and accepting way.
It takes courage to seek to find and to nurture your authentic self. It takes courage to be willing to make up your own mind about your values, morals, ethics, goals and so forth.
The degree to which you are or perhaps are not aware of your authentic self is the measure of the likelihood that you are living a less than authentic life in terms of being effected by the biases, prejudices, intolerance of difference, and/or quest for sameness that you may well be allowing to define who you think you really are.
It takes courage to be who you really are and live in and from your authentic self. It takes courage to live to the beat of your own drummer. We cannot all be served or nurtured or even understood within the collective schema of sameness. A sameness whose value or lack thereof is arbitrarily and mysteriously measured and determined by what is essentially the groupthink of the majority in any given situation or area of life.
Dare to be different and live your life courageously in pursuit of your own authenticity. Learn to accept your differences and the differences of others. If we aren’t comfortable with exploring our vulnerable differences how can we truly understand our unique and incredibly meaningful purpose-driven authentic strengths?
It takes courage to pursue living an examined life and to be open to the very authentic vulnerability that is truly a sacred gift of strength.
When you realize that life is about more than all that is obvious and more than is experienced within our sameness that realization will light a fire of desire within you. A desire for the so much more that you were created to know and to manifest in your own unique way to fulfill your own unique passion and purpose.
© A.J. Mahari, June 2, 1013 – All rights reserved.