If you give other people the power to decide how you should be feeling and what you should be doing, how do you even know whether what you feel is real or not?
I remember having a sudden realisation in my early twenties that I had no clue whether I actually enjoyed doing the things I was doing.
Was I doing them for me, or was I doing them because I believed other people expected me to do them?
I suddenly realised I couldn’t trust how I felt because there were certain things that I associated with being “likeable” and “successful” and I did them for that reason, rather than because I actually felt good about doing them.
I felt good about the way people would feel ABOUT me for doing them, not intrinsically good about the actual doing.
This completely messed my head up for a while!
I felt like my whole world was a lie and I couldn’t trust anything I thought I knew about myself.
Was I reading this book because it was enjoyable or because I thought it showed people that I was intelligent?
Was I eating this food because I liked it or because I’d been brought up to eat what I was given?
Did I do this or that activity because it was fun, or because it had impressed people when I was growing up and now I attached people’s impressions of me to doing that thing?
It’s taken a lot of untangling to get to the bottom of it, and even now, I still find myself having to question whether I want to do something because of how it will make ME feel, or because of how I believe people will PERCEIVE me as a result of me doing it.
Whenever I’m in doubt, I check in with myself and ask these questions:
Why do you want to do this?
What value will it add to your life?
Is it possible you’re doing this because you think other people want or expect you to?
I always trust the instant answer that comes back…because my inner voice knows the truth!
If I spend too long thinking about it, I begin to overanalyse it and I can’t get a clear answer.
I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been had I had the confidence and courage and self-awareness to only do the things that I really wanted to do, for me, right from the start.
I see it while raising my boys, the conflict between wanting to do the “right” thing - the socially acceptable thing - and wanting to do something completely different or “unacceptable” and what that might mean about them and how much others like them.
Of course, it won’t surprise you to read that I ALWAYS encourage them to listen to what they actually want to do and highlight all the benefits of knowing what’s important to them, uniquely as individuals.
It’s in our variety and differences and uniqueness that we’re able to paint all the colours of the rainbow and build the brightest future for all.
So, here’s to each of us choosing a life that’s uniquely ours…
…to dancing to the beat of our own music
…to choosing to do the unconventional, the unexpected
…to knowing that every unique like and dislike, every action, every choice, is all exactly as it’s supposed to be
It’s why we’re here, to express ourselves fully and in that expression to push the edges of consciousness.
Embrace your differences. Make a game of being more you every day. Play with life.
And remember, you were born to flourish!
P.S. this is me pondering the ongoing conundrum of what picture to accompany my blogs without continuously posting selfies!