What are you doing in the name of looking for love, wanting love, needing to be loved, seeking approval?
I had a great conversation the other weekend, and among other things the topic of love and approval came up. My breakfast date and I are both on the journey to creating meaningful work for ourselves, and inevitably the question of our previous paradigms came up. For instance, the question, “what was your definition of success?”. We were in agreement that for us, success was what other people had lead us to believe. We’d never really stopped to think about it, never stopped to check “does that definition really resonate with me?” or “Is that person that I’m aspiring to be like really happy where they are? or am I just following blindly?”. The dumb founding thing is – we didn’t realise it back then.
This is what I believe the architect in The Matrix meant when he said to Neo: “nearly 99% of all test subjects accepted the program as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level”. In other words – 99% of us will follow along with what society says (as long as we’re not being blatantly ordered to do so as in an obvious regime or dictatorship), thinking we’re choosing it, thinking we have the power. When in reality something else is influencing you. That’s the crazy part. You think you’re in charge, but you’re not. Someone else is in the driver’s seat. Driving your choices because you haven’t really taken a moment to think “is this model/ paradigm really working for me?” and if not what am I willing to do about it?
Many of the definitions I’ve had in the past have not been original at all. Despite thinking I was one of the “smart ones”, the “savvy ones” the truth is I swallowed definitions given to me by others such as the definition of success, or the definition of what a good relationship looks like. I didn’t even question where those people got those ideas from. I did things like applying for jobs with companies that embodied swanky and were approved of by the world at large.
The truth is, doing what society has laid out for you without checking in with yourself is something many of us do. And we don’t do it because we’re dumb, we do it because the fear of being shamed/ostracised, being considered crazy, is a palpable fear. I can’t do that, what will people think? what will my family think? my wife? my husband? my friends? I don’t want to end up alone. And that’s the catch – you don’t want to NOT be loved. You don’t want to NOT be approved of. So you stick with it – duty and obligation (you accept the program). And then the duality makes things even more difficult. The battle commences between the you that just wants to be true to yourself vs the you that wants to fit in and is afraid that telling your truth will ostracise you. The you that just wants to relax into a loving relationship vs the you that holds back because you don’t want to get hurt. The you that really wants to be seen vs the you that hides herself or himself away. The you that wants to be unencumbered vs the you that will get a mortgage because not buying a house is foolish and you have to pay someone money each month anyway so might as well be to a house that you’ll eventually own. Whew. The duality gets exhausting.
There is always a gap between when you stop doing things for others’ approval, and when you find your groove by being yourself. It’s like the dials on a radio. You’re on one station one moment and then you turn the dial and there is static or silence until the next station pops up. Many of us fear that moment of static or silence (aka change, new beginnings, melting and re-forming). But if you keep going, the next station (aka next phase) inevitably reveals itself. During that moment of static or silence, you cocoon, go inwards to figure out what’s true for you. Some people you know may come along, some won’t be interested and will fall away. The good news is there are other people, new friends and acquaintances to be made at the next station/level.
It takes alot of courage and is not easy. But it’s worth it. At least at the end of the day you will be able to say “I lived”. I thought it through and can blame no one else because I made my own choices. I thought before I went along. It starts off with little steps. An hour here, an hour there making the time to do what you truly desire. An hour here, an hour there meeting with people who inspire you and can help you get there. An hour here, an hour there brainstorming with friends and making a viable plan (see my post from 20th March on Why Go It Alone when others are experiencing the same thing?).
I also highly recommend taking a look at books like The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. You can read abit about it here: http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html
Go on, use your brain and your heart. Live a life with guts in it!