Many individuals and I use the term individual loosely to describe one of a herd, have formed themselves by trying to please others. Always feeling they have to do things because they are expected of them, or more important to make people like them, to be more popular. One can only hope that they finally say “to hell with it! From now on I am just going to be me – wealthy or destitute, good or bad, right or wrong, for better or worse. I have to do what I want to do, not what others feel I should do. It ends here and now.” Sadly many more never reach the moment of realisation and spend their whole lives in-authentically “being for others” as French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre observed.
Upon the realisation that they have been hiding their feelings from themselves and significant others, they no longer wish to be shaped and determined by parents, their culture or society norms. They do not want to form themselves and their behaviour into a form which is merely pleasing to others. They no longer choose to be anything fake, anything which is forced, or anything which is ordered or defined from outside of themselves.
What then can these individuals do that is positive after awakening to everything they do not want to be and have been up to now, what positive changes can be made?
They may choose the goals towards which they wish to move. Becoming responsible for themselves. They can decide what behaviour and actions have meaning for them, and what do not. They become self-directed and as such the authors of their own lives.
This freedom to be oneself is for many a terrifying responsible freedom that many choose not to face. There is comfort in conformity. Individuals that move toward freedom move forward cautiously, fearfully and with little confidence at first. This freedom is a lonely freedom moving away from social norms and the comfort to be found in conformity. However, one of the basic longings of human existence is to be true to oneself, to have the psychological freedom that allows one to think for oneself, be self-sufficient, and feel whole and complete without the need for other groups or individuals to complete oneself. This first choice may be the hardest of all, but I can honestly say that once the choice is made to enter the process of becoming a new you every day through autonomous thinking and acting it is unlikely one will ever return to the brain-numbing, living death that is the comfort to be found in conformity and psychic laziness. This is the only path to the personal and spiritual growth which we as human beings yearn for so much.
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