Its doesn’t matter who or what a person declares themselves to be as long as their talk – what they say – and their walk – what they do are congruent. In the blog Transparency is more expedient than Lying, author, Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal, calls this “…authenticity of personality… meaning, if the viewer sees your personality as integrated, healthy, consistent, and aligned with the identity you have assumed, then they accept you.” She goes on to conclude that, “..being an upfront scoundrel is more credible than a “Mad Men”-like veneer of politeness.” And “...you can be honest and reviled and still come out on top. But you absolutely cannot be a hypocrite or a liar.”
This got me thinking today about what happens when a person’s behaviour is incongruent with what they say. Yes, they are a hypocrite and a liar. But there is more that goes on inside us, in our brains and our emotions, when this occurs. If you like me, why does this cause me to obsess on it rather than simply acknowledge them for what they are and move on?
Our brains are programmed to intuitively spot alignment between what another person says they are and their behaviour. If its there, then we know how to respond. If a person says they are kind and their behaviour demonstrates they are, then trust is engendered towards developing a relationship. If the opposite is true, that is they say they are mean and they behave accordingly, again we know to respond with caution and probably not develop a relationship with them. However, what happens if they say they are kind, have the charisma to charm with the spoken work to make you believe them, but then behave differently? For instance, the person who says they respect others but then treats people with a lack of respect for their perspective, which consumates to a lack of respect for the person.
This contradiction is a problem for our brain and our brain is wired to solve problems. So what happens? We think … ponder … ruminate … brood … obsess … in attempt to resolve the incongruency. That is unless we notice it. Then we can stop it. How you might ask? The answer is simple but not easy to do. Stop it. That’s correct. Stop thinking about it. Make a choice to accept the incongruency – that is the person is not what or who they say they are. End of story. The only choice then is ours. We can choose to continue to let them live rent free in our head, taking up precious time and energy that could used better for ourselves. Or we can evict them. Let it go. Redirect the obessing to the only thing we have control over – ourselves.