Q. I am having great difficulty in being myself. It seems that others – my parents, my girlfriend, and my friends – want me to be a certain way…and it is driving me crazy. I want to live authentically, but they force me to be otherwise. Is there any escape from this insanity?
Subhan: What you write is a common experience for most of us! So welcome to the club. We feel pressured to be what others want us to be. And if we don’t do that, we feel not only their disapproval, but also an inner judge that beats us up for not meeting their expectations. The situation becomes really crazy when, at the same time, we have a strong urge to want to disregard their expectations and to live a life that is authentically ours…not theirs!
The simplest way I can put it is this: From our birth, we were given messages that the sources of our survival, love and worth were outside of ourselves. Everything we saw, smelled, heard, tasted and touched was “out there.” The fact of the matter is that in our infancy, our survival WAS dependent on others taking care of us. So we bought the notion – very unconsciously – that virtually everything in our lives depended on what happened “out there.” But once we were able to feed and take care of ourselves, this notion was no longer was true. Someone forgot to tell us that. So we continued to look outside of ourselves for our value and sustenance.
If others are responsible for what we do or don’t do, then we are marginalized to the role of puppets…constantly at effect with what others expect and want from us. No wonder this feels insane. It IS insane! The other alternative is to find the source of our value and sustenance inside ourselves. What a novel idea! With this understanding, we are free to be ourselves and to attain an almost unlimited potential.
Try this statement on for size:
“Nobody can stop me from being me, except me. And, even then, it is still me (stopping me from being me).”
So, when you stop doing something because the other disapproves, it is still YOU doing the stopping – in their name, of course. And once you understand this, you can still stop yourself, OR you can do otherwise! It’s up to you.
Be patient and let this understanding grow in you. It has to start out as a seed. If you give it time and nurture it, it will give you roots and wings. It will one day grow into a tall tree of understanding that will touch the sky, with deep roots of intelligence that will go to the very center of the earth! And you will be free. Love…