I worry too much about what other people think of me.
I’m concerned about how I look and how I hold myself when I’m in public.
I worry that I’m not funny enough or that I can be too serious, or that my neuroses are painfully visible to those around me.
I have fears that even though I read a fair amount of self-help stuff, I still can’t get over myself and just relax, and I don’t know why I keep taking myself and everything else so seriously.
I am constricted and stunted and introverted, and I get depressed.
I know I am capable of so much more. I know that out of my full potential, I keep butting up against the eight percent mark.
I can stay down here, or I can figure out a way to rise above such mental turmoil.
How can I just get over myself and enjoy life?
By simply being yourself…
We’ve heard this a million times before. ‘Just smile.’ ‘You’re only human.’ ‘Just be yourself.’ Yada yada.
This all makes sense on the surface, and it’s heartwarming for about seven seconds. But how do we truly absorb this? How do we really change, and how can we finally express ourselves without fear?
How do you just “be yourself?”
The most crucial way I have found for this to start taking hold is by changing your philosophy (your view of what life is about) and being consistent with a new one.
Your current philosophy goes something like this:
‘The right thing is to be a GOOD person…’
‘…Therefore, because being good* is vital, I must hide anything about me that is NOT GOOD.’
*Or other variations of the label ‘good,’ like: ‘worthy; positive; happy; adjusted, normal, fun,’ etc.
Now, here’s the issue. ALL of us have things about ourselves we dislike.
Things we said in our past that were hurtful, or stupid. Things we did that lacked courage. Things we did that we look back on with shame, regret and embarrassment. Things others said to us that made us realize we weren’t ‘good’ people.
So we know deep down that we do not fit with the perfect picture of what ‘good’ is in our minds.
We know it from experience, and we know it at a raw, primal level too.
None of us can — nor will we ever — be 100% ‘good’ people.
Now life comes with an additional obstacle, on top of all its challenges:
We need to hide as much as we can about ourselves that we think is not ‘good.’
This causes stress. Denying it and playing ‘nice’ all the time makes us depressed.
We yearn to care less, but we just can’t let it go. We don’t dare reveal our flaws.
And therein, friend, lies the source of the problem.
We have something that takes energy to hide.
What’s the solution?
Do we need to stop hiding?
That would mean taking on the additional burden of trying to ‘not hide.’ That takes work.
The solution is to change your thinking.
Remember your current philosophy?
‘The right thing is to be a good person.’
Here’s your new philosophy:
‘I am flawed, weird, and crazy, like everyone else.’
‘I am flawed, weird, and crazy, just like everyone else.’
With this new truth, you will no longer need to hide, especially if you regularly immerse yourself in the idea.
When you don’t have to hide, you have less to fear what others might think.
Of course, this is all good and dandy as an idea, but this philosophy needs to be engrained over plenty of time.
We start by contemplating the reality of darkness. We are all flawed. There is darkness and evil in the world. Things can suck. People do bad things.
Here’s where it gets a little strong, but this is key, and few people talk about this:
We are all capable of evil.
At the heart of it, this is what we are hiding.
We all know we are capable of being bad even if we have not even scratched the surface of ‘bad.’
When we do something that we consider is on the spectrum ‘evil’, we know we must hide it.
This is what we have been doing all this time.
Trying to be and appear ‘good,’ and ‘normal’ is a very rational and human response to the understanding that we, as people, are capable of dark things.
But resisting our dark side is to resist our very nature. It is to be irrational.
It is to be non-human.
When we can accept our deepest fear, here’s what happens…
We start to understand how we are just like everyone else.
We are no longer an anomaly with a desire to hide among the crowd like nice, nodding sheep.
We are human. We are as one.
This is the realisation that will set you moving in the direction of wholesome living:
- Of taking responsibility.
- Of owning your flaws and not needing to hide them (or to flaunt them either).
- Of dropping your shame and being unapologetic about your human nature.
- And finally, to start loving the fact that you are different too.
It might seem like a paradox, but when you realise that you are just like anyone else (who are all flawed and crazy), you are free to explore what makes you an individual.
This is the next step:
Pursue those things you previously thought others would reject you for or think you weird for doing.
Why does being weird become easier when you realise your own humanity?
Because to be weird is to be human.
To be weird is to be ok.
To be unreasonable is ok.
To be unexpected is ok.
To go against perceived ‘normalcy’ is ok.
You’re not doing these things to be the centre of attention, and this isn’t a free ticket to a life of anarchy. And it needn’t be if you can find what brings you to life in a way that inspires yourself (and therefore others).
Figure out what that means for you, and then turn it into an obsession.
Create like the maniac you know you are.
Triple-down on your curiosity for that thing.
Pursue that thing like your life depended on it.
“Follow your own weird.” ~James Broughton
Be relentless in your pursuit. Do so until the world has no choice but to take notice.
You have nothing to hide. You revel in your strangeness. You direct your energy to create incredible and beautiful things.
There is a joy in this because by being unique in your own way, you are paving the way for others to do the same, freeing them from their shackles that you already know so well.
And this is where the magic lies.
‘Not giving a f*ck’ is not about not actually caring. It is about doing this for others.
You do it so that others can see where freedom lies. You are doing what brings you to life so you can spark aliveness in others. You’re doing this to wake others up.
You are looking outward. You are no longer concerned with yourself (the source of stress).
You are flooding light on what it means to be an alive human.
Know that you, like everyone else, are weird, crazy and a little ‘bad’ by default.
We are all the same in our absurd, flawed uniqueness.
Absorbing this concept will create electricity within you.
And you will be free.
Do these two concepts make sense to you? If you have 11.6 seconds, I’d love to read your comment below.
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Originally published at www.redlemonclub.com on May 10, 2018.
Knowing this will make you give less of a f*ck about what others think was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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Author: Alex Mathers