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An incongruent society fosters incongruent individuals. (Mini Series1, part 2)

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Let me first tackle the meaning of the ‘big words’ INCONGRUENCE/CONGRUENCE.

An incongruence among people and our society accounts for an increase in challenges with mental health in our modern society. It contributes to feelings of ungroundedness, emotional unsettlement, loneliness, sense of being lost or disconnected from one-self.

Could general statements of togetherness – especially when implied by authorities – deprive individuals of their unique and distinctive idiosyncrasies? I truly believe that generalised collective mottos such as “we are all in it together” imposed by an authority oppresses people’s individualism, causing internal conflicts and incongruence to people’s internal structure.

I like to see incongruence as a ‘contentment inhibitor’. Simply, incongruence takes away your inner contentment, your inner peace. In my personal and professional life, I have experienced incongruence all around me - in my family (I love them dearly), in some of my friends, in my past places of work, in my counselling courses, in academia, and simply, anywhere one turns.

With hand on heart, I too, have had to work very hard (and will always continue to do so) on my journey towards being a fully congruent person and a therapist.

So, what is it? What is this mysterious term incongruence/congruence?

(In)congruence is potentially one of the most challenging terms to explain, so let explain by giving you an example you might find familiar.

Let's envisage…

…Your friend or colleague asks how you are, and you answer: “I am ok, thank you”. You don’t tell them about the grief of loosing your pet. You don’t tell them how stressed work has been for you. You don’t tell them how overwhelmed you feel to keep up with social pressures, nor you tell them that you have been feeling lonely.

With each and every time you voice out loud that you are ‘ok’ (while inside feel otherwise), your mind recognises the conflict between what you are living on the ‘outside’ and what you are experiencing on the inside.

And because it is too hard to live in a conflict, our ‘automatic system’ takes over and chooses to hide the conflict by pushing all your challenging feelings away until you truly begin to believe that you are what you say - ‘ok’. Sadly, those challenging feelings have not gone away, they have only been pushed deep into your subconscious. You are no longer aware that you hold these feelings but trust me – they are active!

This is INCONGRUENCE – your internal world has become unknown, forgotten, lost and you live life INCONGRUENTLY believing that you are simply ‘ok’. The hidden (but active) world of your abundant emotions will then interfere with your daily life, and you may not even be aware of it.

Toxic incongruence in the statement of ‘We all are in it together’.

Let’s return to my previous blog where I explored challenges around statements of total collectivity such as ‘we are all in it together’, and to explore what potential harm this statement poses, especially when it is widely spread ‘as a fact’.

Slogans of total togetherness are incongruent and generate incongruence among individuals and entire society. They oppress people’s opportunity to be unique, to feel different and to embrace genuine experience. Proclaimed ‘being in it all together’ is ingenuine.

After the example of incongruence above, you possibly know where I am going with the incongruence of ‘we all’. I am going to highlight an instance of collective trauma of the global pandemic Covid-19, or a current financial crisis, in which the slogan ‘We are all in it together’ has been the most prevalent.

…Let’s envisage that when these events struck, you feel your own individual struggles.

Perhaps you suffer with chronic illness, you may not have a family, you may not have friends, you may be entirely alone, or perhaps you prefer not leaving your home much anyway (I could endlessly continue here with further possible unique experiences anyone could presented with). Perhaps you do not ‘feel the same as others’, you do not feel ‘you are in it together with everyone’.

Once more your mind recognises a conflict; this time, between what you are hearing – ‘We are all in it together’ and what you are truly feeling (e.g., being alone or feeling different to others); your mind begins to push your true unique feelings aside to narrow the gap of this conflict.

In reaction to relentlessly hearing that ‘we are all in it together’, your mind may actually begin to believe that we are all the same after all.

Perhaps your mind even begins to tell you that you should feel guilty for having your individual feelings in the situation of collective crisis. Your mind may also tell you that your own feelings do not matter as much as the collective ones. Your feelings, your entire sense of your experience may suddenly be pushed aside, become redundant. Your mind is ‘manipulated’ to believe that your experience either does not matter or that it is the same as everybody else’s.

The truth is though - your experience always matters, and your individual feelings are always unique, incomparable and extremely valuable! And collective mottoes ‘we all’ have deprived you of believing that.

Being an individualistic psychotherapist, I truly believe that only when we acknowledge and nurture our own individual feelings, we can grow healthy satisfying lives with real connections and contentment.

There is a toxic incongruence in any ideology of total collectivity such as ‘we all’. We certainly exist together through challenging events, but we never fully share the same experiences of them and therefore we are never ‘all in it together’.

We are in it, and we are in it apart!


Join me next time to read about:

A value of autonomous choice to be included or excluded from a proclaimed collective relatedness.

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