All the loose ends are now falling into place. Everything fits together in perfect alignment. There is an exact correspondence between what should be, what can be, and what is. A simple and profound elegance becomes apparent. This is congruence; an integration forming a coherent whole that creates a perfect harmony.
- Agreement, harmony, conformity, or correspondence.
- Exact fit, alignment
Roots: Middle English, from Latin congruere to come together, fit in, agree
Congruence refers to agreement among the various elements or components of a system. Synonyms include: accordance, alignment, conformance, conformity, congruity, correspondence, and harmony. Antonyms include: incongruence, discordance, misfit, nonconformance, confusion, and misalignment.
Congruence in Social Interactions
We notice the congruence of social interactions in a variety of constructive contexts. These include the simple virtues of veracity, candor, trust, responsibility, autonomy, apology, forgiveness, dignity, stature, humility, contentment, and authentic behavior. Incongruence is often at the root of negative and often stressful and destructive behaviors such as deception, irresponsibility, manipulation, arrogance, resentment, and phony behavior.
Veracity is conformity to truth or fact. It is the alignment of what you say and what you do, and the alignment of what you say and what is fact. This is the accurate, reliable, and authentic expression we call candor. The congruence of veracity includes alignment between the intent and the the words, between the thoughts and the intent, between the words and the feelings, between the verbal and non-verbal expression, between the facts and the words, between the words and the actions, and congruence between the speaker and listener as humans who respect each other as equals. Congruence between thinking and representative evidence, goals, beliefs, values, and doubts is especially important to candor.
Deception is the misalignment between what is communicated and what is true.
Trust is the alignment of future actions with present promises. We trust someone when what they do is congruent with what they say. It is another instance of veracity.
Manipulation is the misalignment of appearance, intent, and action.
Responsibility is choosing to align our actions with our values. It requires an alignment with the reality of what is, not the fantasy of what we wish it was. Responsible actions are aligned with the very best we can do. Our words and actions in the past, present, and future all correspond accurately and consistently.
Irresponsible behavior is the misalignment of actions and widely accepted pro-social values.
Autonomy aligns the locus of control with the control mechanism. It is a congruence between the controlling organism (our choice of what to do) and the controlled organism (our ability to act on that choice and live by the consequences of that choice).
Attempts by others to control you, or by you to control others are incongruent because the will is not aligned with the muscle.
An apology restores the congruence between what we acknowledge to ourselves and what we acknowledge to others when we blame ourselves for their loss.
Defiance maintains a misalignment between the blame we deserve and the responsibility we will acknowledge.
Forgiveness is the decision to align your passions with what is possible. The painful loss you suffered naturally results in vindictive passions. All you can think about is getting revenge. However, no amount of revenge can ever restore what you have lost. Instead this obsession with revenge is tearing at you. Forgiveness is about releasing yourself from destructive emotions and a hurtful past. Forgiveness restores the congruence between what you desire and what is possible and constructive.
Resentment is the misalignment of what you urgently want to have happen and the futility of recovering what has been lost forever.
Dignity is an alignment between respect we show others and the intrinsic worthiness of each human life. It is a congruence between the respect we demonstrate and the intrinsic legitimacy of each person.
Disrespect, indignity, and contempt are the misalignment between respect shown toward a person and that person's intrinsic worth.
Stature is an alignment between the esteem we hold toward a person and the pro-social contributions they make. It is a congruence between the positive regard we have toward someone and all that they add to our world.
Humility is the alignment between the your self-image and an objective assessment of the relative value of your achievements, limitations, and intrinsic worth. It is congruence between the image you hold of yourself, the image you project of yourself, and the reality of our own limitations based on an accurate and modest estimate of your importance and significance.
Arrogance is the misalignment between projected image and relative worth.
Contented people have what they want. It is the alignment of what you want with what you need, and what you have with what you want. Want what you have and you will have what you want. You don't need much.
Discontentment is the misalignment between what you want and what you have.
We are behaving authentically when our beliefs, actions, goals, and results are aligned with who we are—our self. It is a congruence between our actions and our strengths, values and goals. We become authentic when the path we choose through life is congruent with who we are. It is a congruence between who we are and what we do. An authentic choice is a decision congruent with doing your best.
“As simple as possible and no simpler” ~ Albert Einstein