Posted on January 30th, 2012 by Colin and is posted in Growth
‘We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop
trying to conform to our own or other peoples model’
- Shakti Gawain
Let me start with a simple question, what is success? Think about it for a moment. What pictures, or words, flooded your mind?
Success. Isn’t it an enticing word? It has been and still is one of the great motivators of all time. Most of us spend their entire lives striving to attain it (some never realise when they’ve got it!). It’s arguably the most sought after and least understood prize in life. Our need for it drives most of us beyond our limits.
Success, it’s a word we all understand, or think we do! If a friend is talking about how somebody has been a big success we nod in agreement, appearing to understand. But do we?
Think back to the pictures, or words that flooded your mind when you thought about the question, what is success. Was this your definition of success? Here is an important question to think about, has your definition come from the inside, or has it come from the outside? Let me explain.
In my research I found that only a handful of people have stopped to ask, “What does success mean to me?” It appears this is not a question a lot of people have thought about. When I work with groups I enquire, “How many of you want to be successful?” With out doubt every hand goes up.
So it appears to be something everyone is after. I then follow it up with, “How many of you have actually know what success is, you’ve defined it for yourself?” Very few if any hands go up if any. I then add, “So, if you haven’t defined success for yourself who’s definition are you chasing?”
Historically, this is where the eyes glaze over and I witness the human version of a rabbit caught in headlights syndrome. It is often at this point that the room become uncomfortably quiet. It’s then I think; Ha ha I we’re on to something important!
Living From The Outside In
If you’re not chasing your own definition of success you’re likely to be chasing societies. Society is constantly telling us what success is or isn’t and how to get it. The media is a powerful force in creating conformity. The greatest conformity is not in action but in thought or mind control. When people or society thinks alike there’s less friction or challenge. Once people think alike they’re more easily manipulated and influenced to do or buy what the “controllers” want.
Every day the “controllers” seduce us with images showing us what success “should” look like. An ad of middle aged bronzed couple strolling down the beach of an exclusive five star resort, two perfect dressed children playing quietly while their parents look on lovingly, a silver haired pair standing hand in hand beside a golf cart, a beautiful slender, elegant model surrounded by a posse of adoring males or an immaculately suited businessman getting in to a expensive sports car.
We are bombarded daily with these images – coming from the TV, movies and media. It’s all too easy to become addicted to these pre-packaged assumptions of what success is.
We then spend every waking hour working hard to fit ourselves into these ready-made patterns that society has presented us with. We’re addicted to the constant bombardment of success images and give up on the possibility of creating something more truthful from deep within.
Is your time spent rearranging your external conditions in an attempt to get the “perfect” combination, believing only then you will be truly fulfilled? Because, as I found out, if you are, it will only lead you away from your deepest hearts desire and ultimate fulfilment.
Conformity And The Loss Of Greatness
Conformity is the habit and behaviour of needing to be the same. We will only find our own greatness when we stop trying to conform to other people’s ideals of what we should believe, how we should behave and what we should do.
Ponder this question: How much does the need to conform control you life?
What about in the area of work? Every work culture wants its employees to conform to their rules. It’s the only way it can keep its structure, thus providing everybody with a sense of security. Predictability is the status quo. Few work cultures encourage individual creativity. Most want you conform more and more.
What about the clothes you wear and how you look? Where do you shop? Where are the “in” places to go and be seen? What’s the look? What’s the “in” colour? What shouldn’t you be seen dead in? What should you be doing with your hair? Look around you and you’ll see how powerful the social current is to get you to look similar if not the same as everyone else.
What about diet and exercise? What’s the latest exercise fad or craze that everyone’s in to? What should you be eating? What’s the diet of the moment? What supplements “ought” you take? Do ever feel like you’re being told what to eat or what not to eat?
It’s hardly surprising in our journey to adulthood that we become slaves to conformity. Conformity beats the drum of, “Be the same, be the same, be the same. But dancing to this beat comes at a cost, the cost of finding your inner truth. In the process of becoming authentic and living your ideal life you need to move away from the collective and the need to be the same. It is not the case of adding new behaviours to create the life you want. No. It’s a case of letting go of the need to conform and allowing the natural you shine through.
How To Break The Chains Of Conformity In 3 Steps
To break the chains of conformity it’s important to begin trusting in yourself. Inner trust can only be built by listening to the real you, that part of you that’s been in hiding for many years waiting to show its greatness to the world. Over the next few days keep asking yourself these three important questions. Be honest, kind and patient with yourself as the answers arise.
1. Where do you conform to society’s expectations of you? Identify in which areas of your life you habitually or knowingly conform to the “norms” of society and/or other’s expectations of you and thereby trade what’s important to you.
2. What is your payoff for conforming? Explore the underlying reason why, what do you get out of conforming? What underlying needs are getting met? Comfort? Security? Approval? Safety?
3. What qualities within you are being blocked or suppressed as a result of conforming? Examine what you are losing or sacrificing as a result. What would you be able to develop, express, or “be” as a result of breaking away to freedom? What greatness within you is being ignored, compromised or suppressed?
If you’re new to self- inquiry, asking questions like these can seem a daunting task. Take your time, just keep asking the questions and write down whatever bubbles up. The more you ask them, the deeper you’ll go and the closer you’ll get to the real you and what the real you wants.
Go grab the life that’s truly yours.
PS. If you like this post remember to spread the word by giving it some Facebook love and let me know you’re alive by leaving a comment!