Lots of unhappiness in the world is caused by two primary factors: imbalance and deficiencies.
However, most of us do not realise this since these two factors often hide behind the mask of self-delusion.
We can see this often in our daily lives.
On our path to be great communicators, we need to understand this since great communicators are great because they understand what causes unhappiness and hence they are able to steer clear of them. No successful communication is able to take place in the presence of unhappiness. So, let us now look at several instances of how imbalance and deficiencies create unhappiness in us in the light of self-delusion.
When a couple gets married, they usually invite guests to join in their celebrations. While this is a sign of goodwill on their part, some individuals may not feel that way. This is especially so for individuals who have suffered some setbacks in previous romantic relationships or those suffering from low self-esteem. While the couple’s intention is to invite their loved ones to celebrate their marital reunion, our tendencies to self-reflect based on others’ circumstances on ourselves will cause unhappiness in the aforementioned individuals. And it’s this tendency of ours to self-reflect that causes much unhappiness. When we examine the causes of unhappiness closely, we will discover that it’s imbalance and deficiencies that are the primary culprits, not our life circumstances. In this instance, individuals that have failed in their romantic courtship(s) before may ask themselves why they can’t seem to find a partner while others are able to do so with ease. Individuals who have low self-esteem will doubt their own abilities at building a life with a life partner during weddings as well. As can be observed, all the unease and unhappiness among these individuals are caused by an imbalance (of succeeding and building a life as compared with others) and deficiencies (as in doubting their abilities to secure a romantic relationships/marriage) in this instance.
Let’s have a look at another example, that of promotions and the presentations of awards for best employees in recognition of their contributions in the workplace. While the intentions of such endeavours is to give recognition and honour to employees who excel in their work, such acts also has their flipsides. Why is this so? When employers acknowledge the achievement of one employee, they are – at the same time – creating displeasure among the rest of the employees. Why? Because there is an imbalance, something I will call the ” someone-was-awarded/promoted-but-I-am-not” syndrome. The employers also give their employees the impression that they are deficient in something, such as a skill set etc. Many organisations support the “promotion/awards” scheme because they feel that these schemes encourage competition among employers to do their best for the organisation. However, we should not forget that these schemes will also build up tension among colleagues and create ill-will between them over time. Comparing the two, which is the lesser evil?
In the classroom, students -especially the young ones- tend to compare among themselves, be it in terms of academic grades, personal possession, family background etc. This is the reason why kids usually ask their parents why their friends have this and that but they do not own these items. And when the parents inform them that their family cannot afford it, some of them will get upset, make some noise or even cry. This situation is made worse when educators and teachers show favouritism towards certain students and ostracise the rest, thus creating further imbalance in the classroom dynamics. As they grow up, these kids will either become extremely ambitious, persevere and accept nothing less in their lives or they will plunge into despondency and become depressed. Both outcomes border on the extremes of emotions and hence equally undesirable. This brings us to the global issue of the income divide between the rich and the poor. Both examples converge on two common factors, imbalance (between the rich and the poor) and deficiencies (of items that lead to one’s well-being and enable one to lead a satisfactory quality of life). Thus unhappiness will inadvertently result.
But what do I mean when I say that our awareness of imbalance and deficiencies are hidden by our own self-delusion?
Well, when we realise that we lack something in life, we tend to take action to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, the means that we go about doing it often does not resolve the issue and at times, worsens the situation. For example, when we feel lonely, we tend to find ways and means to improve how we feel about our current life situation. Some of us read tons of books to kill time (which results in over-consumption, which in turn kills our opportunity to make new friends), some of us take to alcohol (which may damage our livers when taken in huge doses), some of us indulge in games (which makes us more of a loner), some of us plus earphones and immerse ourselves in music (resulting in what Daniel Goleman calls the “urban trance”), some of us spend most of our times shopping (which not only causes us to indulge in consumerism but at the same time, becoming a “shopaholic” and incurring huge expenses), some of us engage in photography (which is an interesting hobby but again, a solitary activity) and many more. If we were to examine the activities that we engage in to weed out loneliness, we will eventually realise that most of these activities cost us not only our time but also the opportunities that we can put to better use to help others who need help.
Hence, the term “self-delusion”.
But there are ways to rid ourselves of self-delusion. To do that, we need to first acknowledge the imbalance and deficiencies in us, that we are all not perfect beings. We need to connect with others in order to connect with ourselves. Ridding ourselves of imbalance, deficiencies and self-delusion is not difficult. We just need to align our lives with meaningful activities, which is often altruistic in nature. This includes:
- Participating in charitable organisations
- Joining the teaching profession (there’s a reason why teaching is regarded as a noble profession and at times, a calling)
- Helping others in every day and moments of our lives
- Advising, coaching and mentoring individuals who require our guidance and when we have the expertise to do so
- Penning a blog such as this article to provide guidance to people globally
When we do things such as those mentioned above, we are using our time for more meaningful activities. Over time, we will realise that we do not feel lonely or empty inside. We began to feel fulfilled and gained a sense of achievement. There are many things and factors that we cannot determine or control in life but we definitely can – within our abilities- do our best to help others. I feel that nothing is grander and nobler than engaging in altruism when living our lives.
Great communicators understand this and this is why they are great communicators. There are some of us who feel that being great communicators means learning communication skills, putting them into practice and master these skills to perfection. Well, the reality is that to be great communicators, we have to go beyond understanding and application of communication skills. More than that, we have to understand our own psyche, we have to understand our own motivations as well as others and more importantly, we have to feel fulfilled.
Altruism is the prescription for personal lifelong fulfilments, and makes one a great communicator along the way.