Why People Flake

Why People Flake

Should I be writing about the loss of personal integrity that has become so endemic among people in our digitized modern-day world? I’ve been asking myself this question for quite some time now. And yet flakiness has become so pervasive that it is now so much a part of our everyday lives. Many of us are struggling to cope emotionally with the massive incongruence between people’s words and actions that we find ourselves dealing with on a daily basis. We’re left feeling hurt, confused, angry and frustrated by the seeming relentless lack of consideration, rudeness, coldheartedness and dishonesty. We may feel such a deep sense of resignation that we give up on people, on meeting our basic needs and on life itself. This chapter is part of a series of posts pertaining to the continuing loss of personal integrity. Stay tuned…

Flaking has become so commonplace. And what makes it even worse is that a lot of people don’t even see it as a problem. Committing to and following through with plans, texting back and returning phone calls and showing up on time or at all are now the exception. Ignoring people, blowing them and any plans we’ve made off and other forms of fuckedupedness have become the norm. And what makes it even worse is that in so many instances there are relatively few consequences.

How did we get here?

Our land line phones served as the primary means of communication before cell phones and other technological advances such as caller id and voice mail became so readily available. People usually answered the phone in those days because they wanted to know who was calling.

What I miss the most about that time in my life is that people tended to be much more present and more conscientious in their interactions with others. People’s word generally had meaning and plans made were far more likely to be kept.

There was a stigma associated with canceling plans and people generally didn’t do it unless there was a legitimate emergency. We had to call the person we had made plans with over the phone if we were going to back out on something that we had agreed to do. There was a good chance that the person we were canceling out on would pick up the phone and then we would have a lot of explaining to do.

Smartphones, computers, email and social media have made it so much easier for us to stay in touch. Many of us would have hoped that the technology that has made it easier for us to communicate with each other would enhance our ability to establish stronger connections. But it appears that the exact opposite is happening. The ease and convenience of modern technology is also making it so much easier for us to ignore people and blow off any plans we’ve made with them. All it takes these days is sending a text to the person we’ve made plans with saying “Can’t make it today” and now we’ve freed ourselves from any prior commitments.

We’re changing individually and collectively. The culture we live in and the expectations we have of one another are also changing dramatically. We’re losing the elements of commitment and consistency that are necessary to create social and interpersonal cohesion. And that can make it incredibly difficult for us to know where we stand in our relationships with one another.

Indirectness, insincerity and ambiguity have become the standard of mode of operation for many. Even people who are generally well meaning are saying and doing things to one another that in years past would have been considered to be extremely rude and hurtful. Canceling plans at the last minute, not responding to texts or phone calls and not showing up have sadly become so much more acceptable that it is now the norm.

Avoidant, self-absorbed or purposefully wounding

Flakiness exists along a broad continuum. Some people are just absent minded. Many are avoiding the realities of their everyday lives and their own emotional responses. Others are incredibly self-absorbed and irresponsible. And there are also those who are purposely wounding with their words and actions, deriving a perverse sense of gratification from the hurtful crazy-making mindfuckery they inflict upon others.

It’s easy to forget

All of us are guilty to some degree of flaking. Our modern-day world places so many demands upon us. Consequently, we have so much more on our minds. We make plans or tell another person that we will do something …and then we forget. We inadvertently space out on calling someone and flake on other commitment we’ve made. And that’s all the more reason for us to slow down enough so that we can be more mindful. And by becoming more mindful, we can become more congruent in our words and actions.

It’s easy to forget about an event, meeting or other planned activity when we’re physically and mentally depleted and our lives are over-scheduled. Keeping a calendar takes minimal effort on our part. Writing down our appointments or whatever else we agree to do with others in Google Calendar will help us to keep track of our commitments. It’s also free so there’s no excuse not to do it.

Fearful, conflicted and easily overwhelmed

A large percentage of the people doing the flaking are not necessarily trying to be hurtful or malicious. Some are very fearful and conflicted individuals that are easily overwhelmed by the realities of daily life. They could be sad, anxious, depressed, stressed out, immature, self-absorbed, physically ill or any number of other things. However, that still does not in any way justify their behavior.

Many of these individuals are in serious need of help. The problem is that they do not possess the growth orientation that would compel them to take the steps necessary to heal the deep emotional wounds or better themselves. There’s a fuckedupedness about them and they’re quite okay with that. They may feel some guilt or self-loathing and yet any momentary pangs of guilt, shame or knowing that they’re doing wrong by others are not enough of a motivation for them to make any kind of substantive change.

The lack of basic coping skills

Many people who flake are lacking the essential skills that would enable them to cope effectively with the realities of their own daily lives and to relate to other people as a conscientious and responsible adult. They lack the empathetic sense that would enable them to truly understand the needs and considerations of others. Therefore, they do not understand the impact that their words and actions are having upon others.

Fragility

People who are highly sensitive have a fragility about them. Many are lacking the stamina, groundedness and other important resources necessary to cope effectively. They can easily find themselves overwhelmed by everyday interactions, other people’s emotions and other realities of their daily lives. They’re also overwhelmed by their own emotional responses. Their first impulse when feeling overwhelmed is to bail out.

They’re on the run

Many people don’t deal all that well with their own emotions. They’re not allowing themselves to experience their true feelings and are basically avoiding or running from those issues and the parts of themselves that they are not willing to face or deal with. They’re not all that present or honest with themselves. It’s important for us to understand that people who are not being present or honest with themselves, cannot be present for us or anyone else.

Difficulty saying no

Asserting ourselves can be incredibly difficult when we lack any clear sense of boundaries. It’s can be especially difficult for those of us whose basic needs were denied as children to feel entitled to having our needs met. We may be so lacking in self-awareness that we don’t even have a sense of our own needs. Our confusion and ambiguity has us saying yes to the demands and requests of others even when it doesn’t feel right. We often go along with what other people want even when it’s not in our best interest out of our own need for love and approval.

We may feel guilty for saying no, because we cannot handle dealing with another person’s disappointment. We may be so fearful of conflict that we end up saying yes or agreeing to everything. Later on, we’re going to be too busy or so stressed out that we come up with any excuse imaginable to get out of what we initially said we would do. And then we back out or don’t show up leaving the person or people we said yes to feeling let down, hurt, frustrated and angry.

Saying no can at times feel very uncomfortable. Some of us have a lot of healing and growth to do so that we can get to a place where we feel a sense of deservingness to have and assert our basic human needs. It’s much better for us to assert ourselves by saying no right then and there rather than causing unnecessary hurt and damaging our relationship with the other person or people we’re interacting with by flaking out on them.

Unrealistic sense of our own limitations

Technology was supposedly designed with the intention of simplifying our lives and yet so much more is being demanded of us. Our over-scheduled lives, conflicting commitments, constant access to each other through smartphones is adding to our growing sense of overwhelm, exhaustion and of being pulled in all directions. And those of us that either possess poor time management skills or that have an unrealistic sense of our own limitations can easily overextend ourselves, taking on way more than we can possibly handle. We over commit ourselves in our attempt to meet our own expectations and to please others. But in doing so we end up letting the people who were counting on us down.

The demands being placed upon us by our employers coupled with other work-related stresses can leave us feeling exhausted. Our health suffers as we continue to push ourselves far beyond our limits. We end up canceling plans because we’re feeling sick or exhausted.

We’re all human. We therefore need to develop a better sense of our own limitations. It’s important that we strive to communicate more honestly and openly by asserting our needs and limitations. We sometimes need to say no to the demands being placed upon us and the requests of others when we’re going against our best interests and when there is something else we either want or need to be doing for ourselves.

Socially anxious

People with introverted personalities are more likely to feel uncomfortable in social settings. Parties and other social events can leave them feeling anxious. Even hanging out with friends can feel draining. We’re wanting to connect with them and yet they keep declining our invitations or breaking plans because they would rather be spending their time at home where they feel most comfortable. And even if they accept do our invitation, they’re more likely to come up with some excuse to back out or just not show up at all.

Shrinking and avoidance

It’s normal for us to want to include those individuals we would like to get to know and spend time with in our plans. We ask someone to join us, and it may sound fun at that time we ask them. Maybe they’re initially feeling excited and looking forward to going. But they’re caught between the part of them that wants to go ahead with their plans and be with people and the other part of themselves that wants to hang out at home in their own space. They start imagining everything that could possibly go wrong and dreading those plans as the time approaches. Their mind starts coming up with every excuse imaginable. And then they end up blowing off any plans we’ve made with them.

We call to confirm on the day we’re supposed to get together or maybe we get a text saying “I forgot …I’m feeling really tired …I have to feed my neighbors cats tonight” …or some other bullshit excuse. And then they’re asking us if we can reschedule. They feel a huge sense of relief after bailing out on the plans they’ve made with us and end up doing nothing but hanging out and watching television. The danger of making excuses and bailing out is that it can easily become a habitual pattern. Patterns of avoidance coping weaken people by diminishing their strength and personal power. Those who fall into this trap often find themselves shrinking into an ever-smaller box.

People who are lacking in basic communication skills can easily make matters worse. It may take considerable amounts of effort on our part to get that someone we’re wanting to spend time with who keeps breaking plans to open up to reveal what’s going on with them.

The importance of expanding our range of motion

We’re all going to feel uncomfortable at some point in our lives in various social contexts. Breathing into our anxiety or any other uncomfortable feelings that surface will help us to process those emotions so that we can relax and feel more comfortable in a wider range of social settings. Actually showing up to events can help us to stretch beyond and expand our comfort zone. We need to be expanding our range of motion if we are to ever grow as individuals. We always have the option of leaving if we find that we’re not enjoying ourselves. 

Feeling anxious or depressed

Flakiness can in some instances signify a pattern of deeper emotional distress. People who are not coping all that well with their own emotionssometimes have a hard time motivating themselves to get out and engage with other people. The problem with staying holed up in their apartment is that they tend to sink even deeper into their depression. 

People struggling with anxiety and depression are in many instances overwhelmed by their own emotions. And they will sometimes flake out because of the difficulties they experience in coping with their own emotional responses.

We may not feel like going out if we’re feeling anxious or depressed. The fact that we’re feeling so bad is an indicator that we need to be seeking out some form of professional intervention to help us to heal the deep emotional wounds and to cope more effectively.

We all feel anxious or intimidated by people and situations that are unfamiliar or that puts us in touch with our emotional vulnerabilities. Taking the constructive steps necessary to facilitate the healing of our deep emotional wounds will help us get to a place where we can enjoy getting out and interacting with people.

There have been times when getting out of the house pulled me out of my funk. Responding to the opportunities that were being presented to me has also opened new doors for me on many occasions. I remember one instance when I was feeling a lot of sadness about a relationship that wasn’t working out years ago when I was in Sri Lanka. A flight attendant I met a few months prior invited me over one afternoon. I hadn’t slept much the night before and wasn’t feeling all that great, but I went anyway. Good thing I did, because it turned out to be the beginning of a new relationship.

Unwillingness to deal with our own emotional responses and that of others

Our relationships with other people will invariably bring any feelings and the issues that need to be dealt with to the surface. We cannot help but feel uncomfortable at times. We often flake because of our unwillingness to deal with the emotions of other people. We flake when other people say or do something that elicit an emotional response in us that we’re not wiling to deal with.

We need to find the courage with in to show up fully present. Facing the issues that are relevant to us head on and fully experiencing our own true feelings helps us to develop greater strength and integrity and to grow as an individual.

We will feel uncomfortable at times when people say and do things that put us in touch with our vulnerabilities or that trigger our deep emotional wounds. And by doing so, they’re inadvertently helping us to get in touch with issues and emotions that we need to be dealing with. In these instances, we need to remain fully present, addressing the relevant issues and working constructively to process our emotional responses to the best of our ability.

We need to use discernment in any situation we find ourselves in and in our interactions with other people when we find ourselves being triggered. Discernment helps us to become more fully cognizant of the dysfunctional or toxic people and situations that we need to side step. Discernment will also give us an intuitive sense that will let us know when we need to address a particular issue and to work constructively to process our emotional responses.  

Monkey see, monkey do

Flakiness is in many instances a learned behavior. So many people are lacking any real substance or internal core. And they don’t have much of a foundation to stand upon. Those who are unwilling or unable to truly think for themselves and live from a place of personal integrity are more likely to emulate the shitty behaviors of other people around them.

When flakiness becomes a big part of who we are

The more we come up with excuses and avoid the people, issues, situations and our own emotional responses that we need to be dealing with, the more flakiness becomes our habitual means of expression. Flakiness enacted repeatedly over time will eventually become a big part of who we are as an individual. And when that happens, our dysfunction then takes over to such an extent that it devours us.

Poor communication skills

Most of us are lacking when it comes to communication skills. Our individual and collective ability to communicate cannot help but deteriorate now that our primary relationship is with our smartphones. Our communicative abilities are deteriorating even further because so many of us are relying upon texting as our primary means of communication.

We cannot see the face of the person we’re attempting to communicate when we text. We cannot hear the sound of their voice or hear their tone or inflection. It’s that disconnect resulting from our inability to see, hear and feel the people with whom we’re interacting that kills empathy. And that predisposes us to say and do all kinds of hurtful, anxiety provoking and even shit-headed things that we would never have the nerve to say if we were interacting face to face.

Having any kind of deep, meaningful or healthy relationship is impossible when we fail to communicate. The man or woman we were hoping to connect with may not be all that into us. Or maybe they do have feelings for us, and yet they’re so riddled with conflicted thoughts and feelings that it makes it nearly impossible for them to be fully congruent in their interactions with us. Matters are further compounded by their inability to communicate. And that’s why they can’t come out right out and tell us what they’re thinking and feeling. And when they’re so disconnected, they very likely don’t even know what they’re thinking or feeling. It’s this ambiguity that we find so maddening and yet they’re hoping that we will somehow get where they’re coming from and be attuned to their needs.

Couldn’t we just be more honest?

I doubt that any of us can be completely honest one hundred percent of the time. A woman who showed up in my class that I could not relate to told me that she wanted to get together. I didn’t want to hurt the woman’s feeling by telling her that I couldn’t relate to and had absolutely no desire to spend any time with her. I don’t remember the exact wording I used in that moment and yet I did the best I could to subtly give her the impression that I wasn’t interested.

Any excuse will do for those who are intent on flaking

Flakiness is becoming so much more commonplace. People can come up with innumerable excuses for their flaking and yet so much of it stems from their unwillingness to face the issues head on or experience their own true feelings. And those who are lacking any healthy sense of shame don’t even need an excuse.

Something came up

The excuses people come up with when flaking out are fairly common. One of the worst, most common and inexcusable of all excuses is “Something came up.” Something came up is the all-purpose excuse for blowing off previously scheduled plans that offers no explanation to the person on the receiving end who is being hurt or inconvenienced.

What is there to lose when someone is this big of a flake. Might as well call them on it saying something to the effect “Something came up? What …You mean all the crazy on the inside is now floating to the surface. And now you’re so incapacitated that you cannot follow through and do what it is that you said you were going to do. Never mind. I have more important things I need to be doing. Bu bye.”

Weather related flaking

I’m teaching classes on a weekly basis. Snow and rain often provide a convent excuse to blow off class. People often don’t show up because it’s too hot or too cold. And sometimes people don’t show up when it starts warming up in the spring and its really nice outside.

The weather shouldn’t matter unless we’re in the midst of a hurricane, tornado, torrential downpour or major snow storm. Weather related flaking just shows how lacking in commitment many people are.

People often RSVP for events and then cancel, often doing so at the last minute. Much of that has to do with their inability to make any kind of commitment to or follow through with plans. Many others RSVP and yet never bother to show up. They somehow rationalize to themselves that its okay to blow off the events they said they were going to attend. They never stop to take the investment of emotion, effort and the expense that the organizers of these events have gone to into consideration.

People will in many instances do whatever they can get away with

People flake because they know they can get away with it. They get away with it because they are for the most part not being held accountable for their words and actions. And what makes it worse is that many of the people doing the flaking don’t care. They may be causing enormous amounts of hurt, frustration, inconvenience and hardship and yet none of that matters to them. And even if they do feel a little guilty, they will continue to do it anyway.

Crazy making thing called dating

The primary purpose of dating for those of us who possess healthy models of attachment is to find someone that we can love and be loved by. And yet it can be especially difficult to know where we stand in relation to anyone we’re supposedly connected to or are hoping to connect with. So many men and women can be hugely ambiguous in that they don’t know how they feel or what they want. Those holding so many confused and conflicting feelings within may not be too sure about whether they will enjoy going out on a date us and so they end canceling at the last minute. They don’t even possess the curiosity, an openness to life as it unfolds or a willingness to explore by going out to see what happens.

Many people are so incredibly ambiguous and inconsistent in their own emotional responses. Ambiguous people can be hugely indecisive, waffling back and forth and avoid committing to anyone or anything until the last minute. It is often the case that they don’t know how they feel or what they want. And whatever it is they do feel or want often changes from one moment to the next. They may like or feel in love with us one day and then they’re feeling completely disinterested, disgusted with us or God knows whatever else later on.

Their feelings may have changed

Most men and women are not doing the deep level processing of their emotions and life experiences. That’s why so many are seriously lacking when it comes to commitment and consistency. Many will blow off a date at the last minute if their feelings change. Or they completely disappear rather than letting us know how they’re feeling. It would be nice if they could at least tell us they’re not feeling that spark, sense of resonance or whatever it is that they feel is missing. Sadly, many are seriously devoid of empathy, compassion and basic human decency.

Non-committal

Many people are so incredibly non-committal these days. Those who are not willing or able to commit to a plan of action will sometimes respond with “Maybe” when asked if they would like to do something. Their unwillingness to make definite plans stems from their desire to keep their options open in case someone or something better comes along.

Difficulty being present

Many people have a very hard time being present. They cannot be present to themselves, therefore they cannot be present to anyone else. They may show up in the lives of others with a certain intensity, passion and conviction. And yet they cannot sustain it.

Fear of rejection

People who lack confidence in themselves sometimes attempt to cover for their own feelings of inadequacy. That person we’re wanting to connect with could be very much attracted to us and yet they fear that we will reject, demean and possibly humiliate them. It may take time, patience and continued persistence on our part to draw them out and deepen the connection.

So much drama playing out in their own lives

The person we’re longing to connect with may be genuinely interested and yet their world seems to be coming apart and are therefore not in a place where they are able to commit to being in a relationship with us. Sometimes people that have been a part of our lives will disappear without any explanation because of the upheaval playing out in their own lives and their own emotional turbulence, only to resurface at a later time. Or they may just completely disappear altogether. And then we’re left with this tangled mass of uncomfortable feeling trapped within our bodies.

Fear of intimacy

There are times when we have the opportunity to spend time with someone and we get a sense that we’re really connecting with. We may trigger a powerful emotional response in them. And yet if they don’t deal all that well with their own emotional responses, they are more likely to cope by running away.

Those who operate with an avoidant attachment style tend to be overly focused on themselves, disregarding the feelings and needs of others. And they can feel especially uncomfortable when relationships get too close. From their perspective, a partner wanting closeness is asking too much. It’s so easy for them to detach themselves emotionally and then cut and run.

Conflict avoidant

Relationships will invariably bring all of our core issues to the surface. Those who are conflict avoidant do not deal all that well with their own emotions and are more likely to sidestep or run away from uncomfortable feelings and issues. Most are also seriously lacking when it comes to basic communication skills. And from their standpoint, it’s so much easier to bail out or discard a person and any relationship they’ve had with them in when things start getting too intense.

You’re nothing more than an option

Online dating sites like Tinder provide an endless source of potential partners to hook up with. The person we set up a date with very likely only sees us as a one of many possible options. And they may blow off the date we were so much looking forward to if someone more handsome or beautiful comes along. And they will most certainly ghost us for someone that elicits stronger feelings of attraction or triggers more intense hits of testosterone or estrogen, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

Seeking instant gratification 

One of the many downsides of social media, dating apps and our use of the internet in general is that it is conditioning us to seek instant gratification. So many men and women are now bypassing many of the important stages of getting to know the people they’re dating in order to instantly gratify their sexual needs. Guys who are only looking to get laid will quickly “bounce” to the next woman if the one they’re messaging or hitting on is not DTF (Down to fuck for those of you who are not up on the latest lingo).

Is it really flakiness or an act of self-preservation?

Fear is a major contributing factor to flakiness. But is it really flakiness or an act of self-preservation? Women in cities such as New York are subjected to a lot more sexual harassment and other horribly inappropriate behaviors perpetrated by men. Those who internalize these negative experiences along with their own emotional responses of fear, disgust and revulsion will invariably find it more difficult to trust or to feel safe with men. It’s the fear and lack of trust that can easily cause women in large urban areas to become especially guarded and mistrustful of men. Women are more likely to blow men off when they’re feeling threatened.

Not all flakiness on the part of women can be fairly attributed to toxic masculinity and the sexually and otherwise inappropriate behaviors perpetrated by the smaller percentage of badly behaving men. Flaking is a general default mode of operation for a large percentage of women and men. They’re flaking so that they don’t have to address their own issues, deal with their own emotional responses and show up fully present to other people and to life itself.

I shared this article with my friend Heather to proof read. Here’s her response:

I was really interested in the section on Is it really flakiness or an act of self-preservation? I think a lot of women, and I could be wrong, don’t even question themselves when they flake on a guy and chalk it up to not feeling safe. It’s a tight line to walk because it is a legit concern. But I know since working with you, I’ve realized that SO many of my interpersonal interactions were being skewed by my past traumatic experiences and I wrote it off as keeping myself safe.

Is it that they’re deeply wounded or incredibly damaged individuals?

People may appear to have it together and yet so many are deeply wounded. Many of those who are so wounded manage to do a good job of concealing it from those of us who have yet to heal our own woundedness.

Deficits resulting from present or past traumatic experiences

Chronic and traumatic stress can have a devastating impact upon an individual. Much of the pain, confusion and internal chaos remains trapped within their bodies. These emotions will in many instances take on a highly charged intrusive quality. Parts of the self will also go into a numbed or deadened state. Their emotional wounding is further compounded as these individuals attempt to numb themselves to their feelings and physical bodies and disconnect from the realities of their everyday lives.

Some people are so undisciplined and so lacking in basic self-awareness they do not realize they’re not going to follow through with the plans they’re making. The deficits resulting from the trauma and subsequent internal chaos accounts for much of their lack of self-awareness. It also accounts for the lack of internal structure and cohesion needed to make plans and then follow through with them.

All the pain these individuals have internalized and subsequent emotional chaos can also contribute to their emotional volatility. Their volatility makes them incredibly difficult to deal with, causing them to erupt and lash out at others. We feel as though we have to walk on eggshells whenever we’re in their presence, lest we step on a land mine.

No sense of accountability

Some people have absolutely no sense of accountability, and even more so if they’re lacking empathy and compassion. They want to have the freedom to say and do whatever they feel like doing in the moment without having to be accountable to anyone else for their words and actions. They can make plans with another person with no sense of commitment and then cancel those plans at any moment if they’re not in the mood or if some other seemingly better option comes along.

How technology contributes to the loss of commitment and consistency

Our smartphones and other devices are a huge contributing factor to our flakiness. People were so much more engaged with one another and in what they were doing in the outer world before we got plugged into all this technology. Now it’s difficult to get people to commit to anything with the never-ending array of digital distractions pulling people’s minds in so many different directions.

Plans happen in and instant and can just as quickly change. The fact that we can reach someone in an instant means that it is now socially acceptable to change or cancel plans with a “Hey, sorry, something came up. Can’t make it” or “Feeling super tired tonight. Can we do this another time?”

Attentional deficits

Our use of the internet and the technology that powers it is altering the neurostructure and biochemical makeup of our brains in ways that are creating major attentional deficits. And that is making it difficult for us to focus our attention for any significant length of time. We or the person we’re interacting with may have been enthusiastic about a plan and yet our focus becomes diverted and then any plans we’ve made prior fall by the wayside. And maybe they really do like us and were initially looking forward to the plans we’ve made, but they end up either forgetting or getting sidetracked.

Sensory overload

So many of us nowadays are on sensory overload. Having to respond to so many friends, family, colleagues and the many demands placed upon us adds to our growing sense of overwhelm and exhaustion. We get that feeling of “It’s just too much. I can’t deal with it.” And so we shut down to people and the demands being placed upon us and stop responding.

Lack of self-awareness

Much of the population is not all that conscious. Many people’s lack of awareness stems from having spent much of their lives disconnecting from their feelings, physical bodies and the realities of their everyday lives that they haven’t wanted to deal with. Their unwillingness to address the relevant issues and do the deep level processing their own subsequent emotional responses leaves them stunted in their intellectual, emotional and spiritual development. .

Growth orientation …and the lack thereof

So many are lacking the growth orientation or inner desire to continually be learning, growing and bettering themselves. And that’s clearly evidenced in their unwillingness to address the relevant issues or deal with their own emotional responses. They may be physically attractive and appear to have it together and yet those who are not facing their issues head on and doing the deep level processing of their emotions are devoid of any real substance. Their lack of understanding and unwillingness to be all that present or honest with themselves greatly impedes their ability to show up as fully present to other people and the world in which we all live.

Ambiguity

People who are not doing the deep level processing of their life experiences and their subsequent cognitive and emotional responses hold a great deal of internal conflict and confusion within and therefore do not know how they truly feel or what they want. And that’s what makes them so incredibly incongruent in their words and actions. All those mixed and confusing signals they give off are a reflection of their own internal conflict and chaos.

Massive incongruence

The way many people think and feel about someone or something can and often does change quickly because they do not have a strong foundation to stand upon. Most people have never learned to work constructively to process their own life experiences and their subsequent cognitive and emotional responses. Without the foundation that develops as a result of the deep level processing, there is very little self-awareness, understanding, commitment or consistency.

The lack of empathy of compassion

People that numb themselves or shut down emotionally can become especially heartless and are therefore not able to value or appreciate others. Those who operate on this level are lacking the tender heart and the kind of healthy shame that would cause them to feel remorseful when they treat other people badly. There’s no incentive to make things right or make it up to the person they’ve wronged. They flake out of their own ambiguity and because they do not care about the wellbeing of others.

We often find ourselves feeling upset or hurt by people’s words and actions. And yet the underlying basis of so much of people’s incongruence stems from their not taking the steps necessary to heal their own woundedness. Those who fail to do so are operating with cognitive, emotional and interpersonal deficits that greatly limit their capacity to truly love and care for others or live from a place of personal integrity. 

Self-absorption — The loss of basic human decency

One of the most important lessons I learned during my childhood and adolescence was to say thank you when another person did something nice for me. I was also taught to take other people and their needs into consideration. Many people nowadays have never learned this crucial life lesson. Others have somehow managed to forget.

Devoid of empathy and compassion

Flaky people are to varying degrees devoid of empathy and compassion. They’ve become so numbed to or disconnected from the empathetic parts of themselves that would enable them to attune to the needs, considerations and emotional vulnerability of others that they do not fully register how they’re hurting other people, jerking them around or fucking them over.

Flaky people can be so self-absorbed that they cannot think beyond their own immediate needs and concerns. They feel their own needs and time are more important than that of anyone else’s. Having so little appreciation for others, they invariably take people for granted.

Self-absorbed people can be incredibly flaky and yet they usually don’t flake out on someone or something that really matters to them. Many of them show up for work because they know they’re not going to have a source of income if they fail to do what’s expected of them. Although it has become more common in recent years for people to ghost their employers.

Many the worst offenders anguish and complain bitterly when they are being flaked on and yet they don’t give a second thought about flaking out on someone else. Could it be that their heads are shoved so far up their ass that they don’t seem to realize they’re doing anything wrong?

Coming from a place of understanding

Flaking has caused many of us a great deal of pain, grief, anger, frustration and even the loss of income. Understanding the person or people doing the flaking can help us to not take their behavior quite so personally or feel that we are somehow the cause of it. And that can in many instances ease the hurt, disappointment and other unpleasant feelings we experience when we’re on the receiving end. Understanding can also help us to cope more effectively with flaky people, the unfortunate consequences of their actions and our own emotional responses.

Sorting out the mess, finding closure, letting go and moving on

In many instances, we will fully never understand what’s driving a person. We may never fully grasp the extent of their woundedness, psychopathology, their biochemical imbalances or whatever else is causing them to say and do things that we find so hurtful, upsetting and disappointing. It is often up us to us to sort out the mess, make sense of what happened, find closure, let go and to move on.

Is there ever a legitimate reason for flaking?

There are many instances of flaking in which there is no legitimate excuse. However, not everyone who cancels out on us or doesn’t show up is being a flake. The unexpected can and often does happen. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for not showing up. The person we scheduled a meeting with may have suffered a serious medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke. A parent, child or other loved one may be seriously ill or in the midst of some other crisis. Their car may have broken down or they ended up getting into an automobile accident. Parents or other family members can sometimes show up unannounced.

Problems occur when people who are still quite capable of communicating in these situations fail to do so. Circumstances sometimes arise at times that prevent us from honoring our commitments. Those of us who are still conscious and that have the ability to communicate, can at the very least demonstrate the basic human courtesy of letting the person we’ve made plans with know why we cannot make it.

It’s not always what it appears to be

We don’t always know the reason for people’s flakiness. It’s important for us to look deeper because in many instances, it’s not be what it appears to be. Is that person not in a good place in their own life? Is there some family emergency taking precedent at this time? Are they overwhelmed by what’s happening at work, possibly having a deadline to meet? Maybe they’re trying to hide something such as a problem with alcohol and other recreational drugs. It’s possible that they may be seeing somebody else? It could also be that the person we’re wanting to connect with feels strongly attracted to us and yet feels very insecure.

We need to be mindful of our friend’s needs and considerations. They may not have time to hang out if they’re in still in college and in the midst of finals, if they have a crucial deadline to meet at work or feel overwhelmed with whatever else is going on in their lives. They are probably not going to want to go out if they’re in the midst of a painful loss.

Gaining a better understanding of the people with whom we’re interacting and the crazy making behaviors they’re enacting can to some extent mitigate the hurt, frustration and disappointment. We may still feel somewhat jaded and cynical and find it more difficult to trust people or open our hearts to them. And yet we’re less likely to personalize their words and actions.

Living from a place of personal integrity

Congratulations if you’ve made it this far. If you feel uncomfortable with what I’m saying in this chapter, it’s probably because you’re recognizing some things about yourself that you’re not too proud of. Let’s be honest here. We all have room for improvement. What would it take for you to show up fully present as a functional adult? You might even be wondering what that all means. That means taking constructive action on a daily basis to live from a place of personal integrity. 

It’s important for us to strive to live from a place of personal integrity. We all need to be making a concerted effort to show up fully present to life as functional adults. We do that by facing the issues head on and dealing with our own emotional responses to the best of our ability while showing empathy and compassion for those with whom we interact.

Have you received value from the insights you’ve gained through my writing? Your generous and thoughtful donation via Paypal or (Venmo @BenOofana) makes it possible for me to devote considerably more time and effort to creating more articles and videos.

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