Updated: Jul 16, 2019
In life, as we grow we are all conditioned to behave in certain ways, to believe in “acceptable” things to our culture, to fit in with what is considered normal.
This serves a purpose in a functionalist society where the theory is everything exists for a reason. However, living a high performance life, or a life that is big and pushes the limits is never going to fit with the normal. Being inspired to see out your full potential isn’t really that normal. We are educated to work hard, get a steady job, work until we are 65 and then look forward to retirement. These aren’t bad things to aspire to. Being a good citizen is something we should all aspire too but is that enough? Is that actually seeking to chase your dreams, to do better, to be a high performer, to be a role model for change? Not really, thats not enough for me personally, thats not enough for me to feel like I have lived a fulfilling and limitless life. I don’t want to be on my death bed and think that all I did was the normal because I was too afraid or too limited or too consumed to step outside and be truely me.
So if you are of the same thought to me you will notice that this conditioning is actually very limiting. It fits you into a box with a billion others. Living outside of that box, good or bad is considered by many (often without being conscious) as being deviant. You might be doing great things but you aren’t what is considered to be normal. This is the thinking that has caused counties conflicts and wars. This notion of not accepting what isn’t normal to us, social conditioning of the urge to fit with everyone else.
I don’t believe we were put here to be sheep. To fit in with everyone else. We are all born with a purpose, we all have a gift to share and things in life are sent to us to help us find our purpose on this planet. But like I said, as we grow, we are conditioned to believe in things, to behave the right way, to fit the mould that society dictates. In New Zealand there is a culture that we don’t like big people, doing great things. You only need to read the comments in a media post that will tell you that. The criticism you will receive to step outside the ordinary to do good is often on par with what a criminal would also receive. Note, both are extreme ends of the “normal”. Being successful is considered deviant in a way. Its not socially normal! Which I think is stupid! If you want to be big then make it happen, if you can’t find the energy to do that then don’t limit people who are with negative beliefs.
Radical self acceptance is understanding that you are in fact simply meant to be you. That shining bright you that you are. But throughout our time in this life we are told what we should be, what we should do. Psychologist John Wellwood explains it simply for us. He uses the image of a beautiful castle with thousands of rooms to describe the experience of how we are as a little child. The rooms are uniquely yours, and yours only. Each room being beautiful in its own way and we spend our early years exploring these. Uncovering who we are.
Then at some point someone will tell us otherwise. That room isn’t beautiful, that room isn’t acceptable. And we close it off, we shut the door, or we change that room. You lock off more and more rooms as your time goes on, as you are conditioned to be what society wants you to be. A limiting society in many ways. Eventually you are living in just a small portion of your one huge and beautiful castle. But you have shut it all off so much you may as well be living in a 70sm apartments in a grey city doing beige things.
In reality these rooms, the rooms that we have cloaked in darkness by shutting them off are what holds the key to us. To become whole requires us to not simply acknowledge the shadow, the closed rooms but to embrace and cherish our shadow. To let the light in, let the world see who we are. There are no “good” and “bad” parts of us but merely a collection of parts that make us whole. A collection that makes us who we authentically are.
Accepting these parts gives us freedom. It also gives us our purpose and it lends us uniqueness in a world based on conformity. The more we can accept our shadows, the more accepting we can be of others. Imagine how different the world could be if we lent ourselves and others that freedom. It isn’t a privilege but for some reason that is what it has become in this world we know today.
What we refuse to accept and embrace in ourselves is what breeds hatred, judgement, intolerance and violence. All of what we hate about ourselves is what we project onto others. We are not truely free while we are living in this space.
Live in your whole castle, open the doors, let the light into the rooms, dust off the cobwebs and embrace every aspect of being you. Open all the dusty parts of your soul and live your life as big as you possibly can, and when you can use that to help others do the same. If we all did a little bit we could all make some big changes. We all have the power to be of influence.