I remember thinking to myself while walking the grounds of the Dachau Holocaust Memorial site; If I were alive when this happened, I would have fought to the death. I would not have obeyed any order that involved inflicting harm on civilian human beings. It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to recognize right from wrong. It takes honesty. In nature, if there is a stampede, any animal that witnesses the stampede joins it out of self-preservation. It’s a survival instinct. It’s present in all animals, except humans. Some people will run against the flow of the rush from danger, even if it kills them, to save face.
What the hell is saving face, anyway? It’s manipulating a situation to make yourself look good (in your perception). It denies reality to avoid shame and embarrassment. Think about that. In my observations, it seems to be a means of maintaining a false self-image. It’s rooted in fear. The fear of shame and embarrassment can be so powerful and can motivate a human being to steal the life of another. When the foundation is fear or hate (which is often a mask for fear), anything built upon it will fail because the foundation is weak and pathetic.
Saving face is a practice by those with weak or no character. These individuals don’t know how to learn from their mistakes because they can’t admit to making them in the first place. It’s like the child caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The kid tries to deny reality and insists they are not guilty. They try to manipulate the parent to avoid consequences. Most people recognize the futility and wrongness of such behaviors and abandon them long before reaching adulthood. Those that don’t are doomed to a life of self-inflicted pain. It’s as if they are stuck in a mental rut, and don’t realize they hold the key to their freedom. It’s sad and a waste of potential.
It’s far easier, to be honest. Good character is simple to develop. I believe it’s a natural side effect of living honestly. When you can laugh at yourself and let go of a need for others to approve of everything about you, you free yourself from the shackles of a bullshit life. Human lifespans are too short. Why waste your precious little time maintaining lies and bullshit, when instead you could be growing and becoming the best you possible?
Being humiliated is uncomfortable and painful. However, I don’t believe anyone has ever died from it. It’s okay to admit you fucked up. Nobody has ever made it through life without fucking up. Nobody. We’re simply imperfect beings. When you fuck up, you step back and focus on fixing what’s fixable. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Then you forgive yourself and make every effort to avoid repeating the error.
Embarrassment doesn’t last very long. Shame takes longer to overcome, but the process is the same.
- Admit your mistake.
- Try to fix it.
- Forgive yourself.
- Don’t do it again.
Those are simple steps to being a better human being. When you do this every time, it gets easier. The fear of being humiliated shrinks. Soon you realize you had the power to control your feelings all along but didn’t know you could do it. Humiliation relies on the person being humiliated playing along by feeling ashamed. If you made a mistake unintentionally, there’s no sense in feeling ashamed. Use your energy to follow the four steps above instead.
If your mistake hurts other people, a sincere apology and reassurances that you won’t be fucking up in that way again can go a long way in healing a relationship. It becomes emotional scar tissue and is soon harder to injure. Additionally, your character becomes stronger, and you grow as a person. Living honestly doesn’t eliminate all pain from your life, but it does help prevent self-inflicted pain. It also helps you recognize others who are also living honorably and avoid those who are not.
When you surround yourself with people of good character, you lift your potential by building your future on a solid foundation of truth. There is no shame in honest living. There are healthy relationships, deep connections, and reliable information. There is trust, understanding, and personal growth. The decision is easy, and it’s a decision indeed. It’s never too late to stop living a fake life. The emptiness that comes from a false life is self-curable.