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This is Previous-Essay <== This-Essay ==> Following-Essay Click HERE on this line to find essays via Your-Key-Words. {Most frequent wordstarts of each essay will be put here.} ========================================================== %BELIEF PERFECT ALWAYS CONFORM ACCEPT REJECT ALIEN 921010 If we accept the belief that personal acceptability should depend upon conformity to some standards of personal behavior, thought and attitudes; we fall into the trap of perfectionists---who compulsively seek to compensate for imperfections by striving for and demanding higher standards of conformity. Achievement of low level standards of conformity and achievement of provisional personal acceptability in terms of low level standards of conformity---do not bring fulfillment and satisfaction; much less do they bring true security. There is always the risk that others will not regard our achievements as adequate, proper, or properly motivated---so there is always the threat of rejection, alienation, and even excommunication. In keeping with the belief that personal acceptability should depend upon conformity, the response to such insecurity is to seek to achieve higher standards of conformity in order to force others to accept us---according to the "logic" of the game. People who are insecure out of fear of each other's rejections are unlikely to be generous with personal acceptance; because people who are carelessly generous with personal acceptance are likely to be judged to be people who do not maintain high enough standards of performance to be acceptable people in the eyes of others who are insecure. The teacher who gives high grades too readily is not acceptable to teachers with high standards of acceptability. Insecure people are each other's most severe critics and are most ready to reject each other for failing to conform to tacit and confusing rules of acceptability. The trap is set when we accept the notion that personal acceptability should depend upon some standards of conformity; that people who conform properly should be accepted into our exclusive community, and people who fail to conform properly should be excommunicated from our exclusive community. Once that notion is accepted: no refinement of any set of definitions of proper conformity, no refinement of any set of judicial procedures for distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable people, and no refinement of the proper means to salvation which is in keeping with the notion---no such effort will unset the trap. To unset the trap of conformal acceptability we must return to the beginning and reject the notion that personal acceptability should depend upon some standards of conformity; and reject the notions that that non-conformists may, should, and can be properly excluded from our community. Communities which fail to unset the trap by accepting any conformal standards of personal acceptability---thereby destroy the possibilities of open and honest communication, undermine the motivations for true listening, and put all members of the community on the defensive: for everyone wants to APPEAR to be acceptable---whether or not they have really conformed in keeping with some set of conformal rules. Nobody truly wants to conform, but everybody wants to APPEAR to conform. Thus everybody is tempted to be dishonest on a regular basis. Being dishonest on a regular basis generates additional occasions for being dishonest in an exponential way, and both personal and communal integrity disintegrate exponentially. These considerations indicate that often a revolutionary shift in paradigm is necessary for a community to enjoy and maintain personal and communal integrity. The focus of attention must shift away from notions of acceptability, rejectability, conformity, non- conformity, good, evil, perfection, imperfection and other such concepts. The focus of attention must shift toward understanding each other person and toward understanding the nature of personal and communal integrity, health, balance, honesty, security, change and growth. In the absence of such shifts of focus no techniques, no technologies and no efforts to achieve perfection will be healthy or satisfying. (c) 2005 by Paul A. Smith in (On Being Yourself, Whole and Healthy) ==========================================================