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    Top o' the morning! After a day out of the office, I am forced to acknowledge the frenzy with which the country is intent on filling boxes and bags for the holiday. In the spirit of gift-giving, I have a favor to ask. Please leave a link to the store of an artisan you know (or your own!). Supporting artisans keeps the world filled with beautiful pieces and keeps the box stores from winning. Support local stores and artisans in your life and share the opportunity to do the same with others! <3 ... See MoreSee Less

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  • And Now For Something Completely Different.

Enough Frivolity

For those who were disappointed in the level of intelligence at the dinner party I attended, be not distressed, it did create blog fodder of a different, more fulfilling sort. Namely, a rather in-depth look at being true to oneself. Observe.


As you may recall, we took a stroll down a few avenues which help us discover how to answer the Caterpillar’s question: Who are you?

If you were not following along during the Identity Series, you may want to peruse these posts to get better acquainted with the concepts we will engage over the next few posts (and find out who Quaint is).

True to what, exactly?

Surprise! I polled my fellow conversationalists. I asked them a similar question to the one in the left side bar poll. (Please answer at the end of the post, if you have not already. Thank you.) In the interest of self-realization I asked which of those qualities they used to most identify themselves. Further explanation was:

Which characteristic do you use to identify yourself to others and which one best describes you?” 

In what I can only describe as telling: Only three of the characteristics were chosen; no one chose two different characteristics to answer the two questions and no other alternatives were offered.

They chose: Honesty, Responsibility and Kindness/Compassion. While the first split equally along gender lines, the other two were nearly gender specific: women identifying with kindness and compassion and men identifying with responsibility.

Enter Virus

To test the veracity of their answers, I posited scenarios to support or refute their self-proclaimed markers.


The preset parameter of the truth was the whole truth and nothing but the truth. All failed to choose the honest answer when the alternative was telling a lie to spare someone’s feelings. Some scenarios included:

  • Telling a child a pet had died
  • Telling a best friend they were poorly dressed
  • Admitting being fired without being specifically asked
  • Withholding negative information about a product from someone who clearly already wanted to purchase it
  • Diminishing the number of past sexual partners/experiences to preserve Mate’s opinion of them

The one who chose the honest answer to the scenarios only chose to tell the truth about being fired, as this person believed the truth would be found out during routine screening. This truth was merely self-preservative.

In all other cases, the pollsters chose to tell a compassionate lie rather than self-realize their chosen characteristic of honesty.

Ladies First

The all ladies group which chose kindness and compassion as their descriptor faced different scenarios to gauge the appropriateness of their self-chosen characteristic. Their two scenarios were:

(A) A homeless man approaches you and your children asking for money or a job. You:

  1. Ignore his request.
  2. Tell him you have no cash.
  3. Get your children in the car before handing him the smallest bill in your wallet.
  4. Give him money in front of your children.
  5. Offer him work in exchange for pay.
  6. Offer food or information on assistance available.

(B) Your child sees a handicapped women shopping in a wheelchair, walks up and strikes up a conversation. The woman smiles and speaks to your child. You:

  1. Turn your child away and offer an apology for the inconvenience.
  2. Call your child to come to you.
  3. Walk over and introduce yourself and join the conversation.

The Reveal

The self-proclaimed compassionate women chose (A) 1, 2 and 3 and (B) 1, 2. Not one volunteered they would speak to their children about homelessness, handicaps or compassion. Ironically, they all believed their children to be as compassionate as they believe they are.

I am responsible.

The men and one woman chose responsibility as their self-proclaimed predominant characteristic. The scenarios presented to them were the following:

  1. Would you drive away from a parking lot fender bender if you would not be caught?
  2. Have you ever reneged on a bill for service?
  3. Would you shirk a duty at work if you knew someone else would do the work?
  4. Would you take something given to you you did not really need even if you knew of someone else who needed it?
  5. Have you ever stopped to find the owner of an animal you struck with your vehicle?

One through three were unanimously answered yes. Only two people answered the fourth question no. The last question was answered no. Overwhelmingly, the responsible people chose to take the low road instead of being responsible for their own behavior.

Was it a total wash?

No. Through the course of the explanations (which were many) to mitigate the incongruous answers, four of the subjects caught on I was exposing them. One woman approached me later and asked me how I knew she was not what she seemed. In my cryptic way, I told her, “I listened.”

The ones who figured out I was after them to self-realize (just call me the horse leader) stopped talking and started listening. They were honestly listening to what their friends were saying.

Instead of nodding in agreement to the self-proclaimed reasons which were self-forgiving or alternative behaviors which should be considered in place of the bad behavior, they were listening to the ferocity with which these unrealized proclamations truly were being defended. I believe all four were remembering when they had used the same tack to exonerate themselves.

Your Turn

Which characteristic do you use to identify yourself to others and which one best describes you?” 

You do not have to give an explanation. One word answers are fine. If you do not think the characteristics can describe you, please supply one which does. Remember, these are two different, but related, questions.


What’s left?

Talk Tuesday

There are two characteristics left on the poll: Tolerance and respect. They will be the topic of our Talk Tuesday. (The topic will be posted at 1900 EDT [GMT-5] and the discussion will begin at 2000. If you cannot stay until the discussion begins, please leave a comment or question for the group to discuss.)

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. Hmmm…. As a person of low worth I have only my word which is of value to me and a sometimes brutal honesty that gets me into trouble occasionally because people beg the lie in order to feel better about their descent into decrepitude and honesty is NOT welcomed! :)

    I have tried to teach manners, decency and compassion to the children in my care and of 42 only two ended up serving prison time because I was actively prevented by their parents from criticising them when they did something wrong.

    Without naming names I can tell you the family made money from smuggling tobacco, selling alcohol illegally, etc. while the two boys did 8 months each for drug dealing – they should have served time longer than that, but they threw me to the Police in return for a good word to the CPS…

    Needless to say the criminality continues, but I am no longer a person they can mention such things to…

    Love and hugs!


    • Perhaps, Pren, you should reread your answer. It exemplifies your breadth as wider than merely your word. Separating yourself from the outside influences shows you are not merely your reaction to the negativity.


      • I think what is eating at me is the injustice – they get away with all sorts of stuff and I got thrown to the dogs only to be exonerated despite decades of care and personal service.

        My final act of support was to end 35 years of caring by helping Emily (who I looked after from birth) achieve a 2/2 Degree in English lit and her dream job as a Primary School teacher.

        She now has two kids and is a mum full time with little Isabella and baby William as well as a hard working partner Billy.

        Despite being severely mentally ill at the time i saw her succeed where I was not permitted to.

        Maybe there’s a victory in that…

        Love and hugs!


        • Truly, there is, Pren. It is a matter of perspective and recognizing your participation in the success as a success. You need to realize cooperative success is still your success when you are a cooperating partner. 😉


  2. I don’t think that any of the terms in the poll quite work for me. Also, while one may describe themselves with one of those words, is it meant to be an absolute? I would imagine the overwhelming majority of people, while generally true to a characteristic, have exceptions.

    • No, there is no way to be solely characterized by one alone. The question was merely to assess the one a person would choose as the first one to characterize themselves. You may need to look for my posts “Who are you?” and “Hated to do it” to see better how this group approached the idea of self-awareness and projection. While this poll was not to be an absolute, it was meant as a “if you have to choose from this pool, which fish would you eat?” kind. These posts are borne of an intense study I did IRL.

      I also do not believe in absolutes. We are a species of degrees.

  3. I am compassionate about my honesty, there are somethings that others do not need to know. For example I refuse to discuss with my children the issues of their father, ever. They have the right to a relationship with him, or in this case a memory of him that is untainted by my relationship with him.

    Yes they are adults and I will nevertheless withhold that information from them forever.

    I am private about about my past. It has to do with my unwillingness to be judged by those who were not there and do not know my history. It also has to do with my unwillingness to dredge through my entire history simply because some of it is entirely too painful and I don’t want to revisit it. There are simply things that are not anyone’s business, not my spouse not anyone’s. Remember the whole idea of dancing skeletons? I simply refuse to take them out and waltz with them for the juvenile delight of others.

    I am far kinder to others than I am to myself though, judge others far less harshly than I do myself.

    My tolerance? Hmmm, depends on the issue. Let me think on this one as I do have hot buttons and most who know me know them.

    • We hold the same view on the compassionate truth, albeit you are far kinder than I shall ever be.

      As to your privacy, you are more than entitled to it, especially given the complete lack of civility to which most pasts are introduced. Never have the words “guilty until proven innocent” been more true than first revealing our pasts. The world wants a justification to mitigate its own opinion. Such backward thinking.

      I shall be interested in your take on tolerance, as you know it is one of my largest struggles.

  4. I’m kinda with prenin on this one – i am not rich, nor even remotely well off… All i have is my word and my honesty, both of which I treasure dearly. Those who know me well know not to ask questions they may not like the answers to (she “do these jeans make my bum look fat? Me “No, your bum does.”).

    If I promise something, I do everything within my powers to deliver in full and on time. If there are delays, I tell what the delays truly were and how long of a delay to expect.

    The thing about lying is that you don’t remember them, so you end up lying about the same thing, but differently the next time – you only remember truths. And, when you don’t keep your word, people stop asking you for it.

    • That is very true. It is the reciprocal of the principle: The more you do, the more you are expected to do.

      I am often afflicted with the “fat bum” diplomacy issue.

  5. I’m comfortable with the real me, my inner self. So long as I’m true to that self, the world will accept me for who (not what) I am. Any who insist that I meet their terms, their ideas of who I should be (for them) are the losers.


    • They always are because they are seeking you to fill an empty niche in themselves. Good to see you tonight, John. Red.

  6. I like respect because if you respect yourself and others you will be honest, compassionate and responsible. As a side, I would be curious to know what exactly is meant by tolerance. The word itself has a rather passive connotation to it. I can tolerate a lot of things, but still not honor or respect anyone. Tolerance really ought not be the only goal because it really limits relationships, in my opinion. – Again, that depends on how it is defined. Well, I guess I will check tomorrow and then comment then.

    • Tolerance is truly passive. When I chose the options for this poll, tolerance was an issue for some of the group. You cannot limit it in terms of the hot buttons: race, religion, sex. You have to consider tolerance as a kindness as well: handicaps, ignorance. Tolerance is truly about putting away prejudice, stereotyping and judgment in its many forms.

  7. I guess belated is better than no comment…..I find it difficult to categorize and choose which should be the “best” characteristics of an individual since they are inexorably intertwined. Total honesty is a necessity, a given. Once lack of honesty is established, it is very difficult to regain dignity. Respect of others begins with respecting yourself –as does tolerance. Kindness and compassion is a result of respect. At any instant in time, under any circumstances, in any situation, there is only one truth. “Honesty is the best policy”, for example, feeding a ‘fat-bum’ ego is self-defeating–the problem only grows in size…..”:))

    • ROFL! Your tardiness is completely excused with the giggles.

      You may well like tonight’s discussion as it is about tolerance and respect. It is also where I will reveal my answer. Red.

  8. How I describe myself to others is: hard-working and kind. How I describe myself is sincere, kind, and good-natured. Now how about how others see us? Wait maybe I don’t want to hear THAT answer…

    • We will not cover that as a topic in quite the back and forth way, unless more people really want to Talk Tuesday about it. The saddest part to me is how we devalue the way others see us. I will cover that before we wrap up this segment of the identity series.

  9. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

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