Welcome to the Willing Misfit Blog!

This blog consists of a series of articles about what it is to think for yourself, and to live a life based on your own conscious choices. While some of the articles are newly generated material, others are included in the ebook 'The Willing Misfit', which is available here for free download:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Monday, 21 May 2012

Responsibility Versus Obligation





When we use our minds to rationalize, our default logic is that of our society. The problem here is that social logic is a construct, and is based on the values of the society in question. If the needs of the individual are deemed less important than the needs of the social group, the logic that the group uses in their daily life will reflect this.

The concept of 'responsibility' when considered using social logic, is confusing, because responsibility to the group, and responsibility to the self are often conflicting issues. In social terms, 'responsibility' reflects obligation; a duty to act in a way that satisfies social expectations. For example, society expects a 'responsible' citizen to earn their keep.

In individual terms, 'responsibility' reflects an awareness and a recognition that the choices an individual makes shape their everyday life. For example, a 'responsible' individual makes choices that promote their own health.

The confusion really starts to kick in when we speak of concepts such as 'freedom'.

Using social logic, the saying 'with freedom comes responsibility' easily becomes a concept that denies an individual their freedom, because social logic seeks to tie the individual to an idea of 'responsibility' that reflects social obligation. 'You're only behaving responsibly when you do what society expects you to do' is how social logic defines the saying, and so apparently, your freedom can only be granted to you by your social group. This is freedom with strings attached: not actually freedom in its true sense.

A responsible individual, however, will grant THEMSELVES their freedom by taking complete ownership of the choices they make. Here, the saying 'with freedom comes responsibility' is defined differently. It's a case of true, individual responsibility being the KEY to freedom. You are truly free when you recognize and own the choices you make.

Most people hand over a large part of their choices to someone else. Often by pure dereliction of action, choices are made for them; they hand over control of their lives because they can't be bothered to take the responsibility. Others make quite rational choices when they delegate the responsibility elsewhere; they've known nothing else, and so perpetuate a social system that encourages the individual to entrust others with the choices that shape their life. And yet, whether the decision to relegate their choices elsewhere is a conscious one or not, it is ultimately their own.

To truly be free, we must find our own sense of logic. It's a good start to consider the choices we make every moment of the day, and to take responsibility for them.


Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307
(or by clicking on the book-cover graphic at the top right of this page)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Mirror of Comparison

Standing alone, and living in the manner you think best, can be a difficult challenge. Society asks 'what makes you so special?' and there is the inclination in you to define yourself as something special and better, so you can manage the challenge. But as long as you pretend you are better or worse, you are creating an imbalance in yourself, and ultimately locking yourself into a relationship with society on its terms.



'I'M NOT LIKE THAT!' you say. The 'I' and the 'that' become opposing factors in a living, constant comparison.

When you lock yourself into comparison, you become a negative mirror image of that which you compare yourself to; define yourself in direct correlation to it, and by doing so, anchor yourself to the nature of it. In this way you can stymie from the start your efforts to be yourself.

You may have decided that society's values don't suit you, but if you then decide that makes them WRONG, and you RIGHT, once more you have the problem where you're locking yourself into relationship and comparison. Why anchor yourself, weigh yourself down with such attachments, when the only reward is a squeezing, weakening sense of superiority?

The alternative is actually not an alternative at all - because the very concept of an 'alternative' is a comparative one. What you can do is simply define your life for yourself, and get on with it quietly. If you are on friendly, open terms with those who still align themselves to social values, you might give them something to think about; and then again you might not. It doesn't matter. You must accept their right to do what they think best, and in doing so, you afford yourself the same right.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307
(or by clicking on the book-cover graphic at the top right of this page)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Packaging Our Children




As adults, we consider we know more about the world than does a child; that we're better qualified to decide what direction a young person's life should take than they are, because we understand what it is to grow up and function in the world, and they don't. But what if our idea of 'functioning in the world' is flawed? What if our idea of life is an adopted view, somebody else's old-fashioned values? Have we considered the possibility that our children might have a healthier grasp of life than we do? Perhaps, with the best of intentions, we're diverting them from their natural path, attempting to knock a square peg into a triangular hole.

Herded by our own parents into toeing the social line, we've struggled to function in the social context, and have learned about the pitfalls associated with such a struggle. Now, as experienced strugglers, we simply want to make sure our offspring negotiate their struggle in as successful a manner as possible. But hey, once again - what if the struggle is NOT the only way, and we're imposing a needless burden upon our children?

Socially contrived values; values adopted by default by a society's members, are falling out of alignment with our increasing awareness. Social values are slowly being updated, but still there are many institutionalized concepts that we cling to, because they appear to make the difference between a 'successful' life, and an 'unsuccessful' life. Like many other aspects of life that we deem to be important, the social definition of success is fundamentally flawed. It's based on outward appearances, an externally-driven measurement of how well we're doing. As long as we impress upon our children that this is what they must strive for, they are doomed to a life of unhappiness, for when they learn that it's up to society to decide whether they're successful or not, they're locked into a lifetime of pursuit that bears only the fruit that others decide they deserve.

At school, our children get the message that they must study a lot of material that is meaningless in their lives, in order to receive qualifications whose only relevance is to render their bearer a marketable product; an employable social asset. They're encouraged to define themselves by a paint-by-numbers set of options, to squeeze themselves into somebody else's idea of life.

The teen years are known to be difficult, and social reasoning has conveniently attributed this to dysfunctional behavior on the part of the teenager. I say 'conveniently' because we are quite aware, on some level, what is actually happening. Just as the child is beginning to gain a sense of who they are, their entire social support system insists that they toe the line. They are expected to cram their wonderful, newly flowering selves into a tiny constricted box - a preconceived idea of a functioning member of society. Of COURSE they're going to complain and resist and be difficult!

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307
(or by clicking on the book-cover graphic at the top right of this page)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Good Stuff

We turn our backs on our good stuff; the way we would most like to live our lives (telling ourselves it’s a temporary measure, or worse, that our good stuff is a ‘pipe dream’) and focus on getting moneyed up.

A common misconception is that having money allows us to do what we want, that only rich people get to do what they want. Money-rich people are focused on keeping the money they have and/or making more, often to maintain a lifestyle that has swelled with their finances. Ask them if they’re doing what they want every day. They probably aren’t.

We also tend to bullshit ourselves by saying ‘just till I have enough’. We focus on getting a sufficient, regular income together before we feel able to entertain that most vital aspect of our lives: nourishment of self.

Putting the cart before the horse in this way can become a serious habit, and before you know it your main focus in life is survival for its own sake: an endless loop of working to survive and surviving to work. Ugh! Even cavemen knew better!

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307
(or by clicking on the book-cover graphic at the top right of this page)

Contribution




A social framework demands that each member contributes in a way dictated by the framework: they are expected to 'earn their keep'.

When an individual considers the concept of branching off into an alternative way of life; to live life he way they see fit, 'financial viability' is probably the issue that presents the most social resistance. Money underpins all the social definitions of independence, and if there's no clear financial plan in your bid to be yourself, you will appear to be irresponsible, even insane. People will ask, ‘If you choose to remain living among people, how can you not be dependent on society if you refuse to earn your keep in a conventional way?’ Society might well label you a ‘parasite’ if you don’t contribute in the expected fashion. And in the context of their logic, they’d probably be quite right.

But is that a reason for you to keep living a life that doesn't work for you? Must you keep running on the treadmill just to keep it going around?

The important thing to remember is that the best contribution you can make to the world is to be your true self. When you are your true self, you'll be motivated to contribute in a way that suits you; a way that IS you. It doesn’t matter whether or not the social group recognises the value of your contribution: many fine things in the world remain unappreciated and yet are splendid in their own right.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307
(or by clicking on the book-cover graphic at the top right of this page)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Selfhood in Action




Don't make the mistake of defining 'Selfhood' as an easy way out. I certainly don't wish to discourage you from moving in that direction, but if your motivation is simply to avoid, your avoidance will continue to prevail, and prevent you from finding selfhood.

In many ways, the journey to selfhood requires a far greater effort than simply staying put and living through social values. Then why undertake such a journey? Because it's very rewarding to be in integrity; for your senses, thought and action to be in harmony with one another.

Of course, this state will not be achieved right away. Some will take years to find it, others perhaps less; still others, lifetimes. But the challenge of unlearning what you already think you know, and redefining a more truthful life for yourself is not small, as I'm sure you can imagine :-)

Imagine this: You spend your day in watchful alertness. Every thought, every action is considered, weighed, assessed; aligned to your own idea of truth. The assessment becomes easier - not effortless, because there are always new, challenging factors that require a rethinking, a realignment of your truth to your awareness as it expands ever outwards. Your truth is a living thing that changes and develops moment by moment.

Because you no longer operate through a convenient set of social values, it's necessary that you expend energy on this constant reassessing, but this is a most willing undertaking for a person in selfhood, because this is what thinking for yourself is all about.

Sound like it's too hard? it doesn't have to be. Participation in a society in alignment with its values requires a complex web of activity, much of which is carried out with some level of reluctance. When you drop these activities, a rather impressive amount of space, time and energy are now available in your life (you wouldn't credit it!), Which of course balances out very well, because the increased amount of energy required for just *being* from moment to moment, is there as you need it.

In selfhood, you are open to everybody. That means people in your immediate, day to day life, and everyone else, too. Walking down a crowded street, you are aware of every person you pass; open and ready to acknowledge, even interact with, each and every one.

Every action, every interaction, every realignment of truth, is a creative exercise, because it requires a fresh approach from the ground up. There's no convenient template that tells you how to act; what to say; who to be.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307
(or by clicking on the book-cover graphic at the top right of this page)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Happiness




That thing 'happiness' that everybody talks about isn't as elusive as you might think.

The word 'happy' has the same root as 'happening'. It means 'to be content with what IS, right now': what is HAPPENING. Happiness is not dependent on what has been or what may be…

… it is BEING WHOLLY HERE. NOW.

As small children we’re very present. Looking back you can probably recall the joy of just *being* you felt back then. It's not simply our growing up, and taking on responsibilities, that cause us to lose sight of that joy.

As we grow older we’re constantly trying to compensate for our lost sense of self. Our thoughts and actions are continually cast outward in search of things that will make us feel better, and as a result we live in a stream of distractedness. Never really present in the happening; in the now. Always wanting, wanting, wanting - trying to fill the hole. The wanting is the problem, the crushing of selfhood the cause.

Often what causes confusion is a mistaken idea of what happiness is. Our goals, dreams and desires lead us to measure our sense of what's right and good in our lives by where we're at with our passionate pursuits. This leads to the mistaken impression that happiness is a measurable quantity that fills up or depletes.

Happiness is actually a state of enoughness. *Where* you are, *what* you have, *who* you are: each has an unconditional sense of enoughness. You are not distracted or depleted by a need to be somewhere else, have more than you have, be more than you are.

And yet, passion, and the pursuit of goals needn’t prevent a state of true happiness. Can you persuade yourself that the journey is what’s important, rather than the goal? This is really NOT some kind of na├»ve, old-fashioned idea. It’s utterly and completely true – though social values might indicate otherwise. When you eat an ice-cream, is the all-important goal to finish eating it?

When a goal is just a direction, rather than a projection of self away from the present, you can focus on the now, and enrich your day-to-day, moment-to-moment existence.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307
(or click on the book-cover graphic at the top right of this page)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Uselessness


In a social context, to call a person 'useless' is one of the gravest insults, because usefulness is a fundamental requirement of a social collective. Why must we be useful? One of the most destructive concepts that we grow up to believe is:

'it's more important to be useful than it is to be yourself'.

For a child growing up, it's incredibly confusing and often deeply disappointing when on the one hand, they are told to be themselves, but on the other hand, they are told that they must be what society wants them to be; that society has a menu - a set range of options - from which they must choose a paint-by-numbers persona; that they must craft themselves into a useful cog in the social wheel in order to belong, to contribute, to survive. Their natural drive to be themselves is stopped in its tracks. Up until this point, the child, who has appeared to be the naive innocent, has in fact had a far greater grasp of what it is to express self than their adult compatriots, but now society tells them they must drop this in order to 'grow up'.

The social menu contains choices that reflect only an extremely narrow idea of what it means to express self. The child is coaxed into squeezing their own expanding idea of self into one or other of the choices provided, and then begins to forget; to dismiss the joyful potential of genuine self expression as the foolish dream of a naive child.

And so in the social context we've cast in stone our idea of exactly how each individual must contribute in order to be a person of 'worth'; in order to be useful. This is how the definition of usefulness has become a yoke around the neck of each person.

If we are to think for ourselves, we must first become 'useless' in the social sense. We must drop the need to live through somebody else's values, and find our own. The book 'The Willing Misfit' examines in depth how we might achieve this. Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Voice of Integrity




It can take some time to get used to distinguishing between the internal voice of your integrity, and the external influences that have helped you make your choices throughout your life. Sometimes the voice has been muted for so long that it has become an unconscious habit to ignore it - for example, the voice that says 'I’m damaging myself with these cigarettes', or 'the long hours I work prevent me from spending time with my children', has become an unwelcome and inconvenient intrusion, gradually pushed down and down till it's merely a dull, guilty throb somewhere in your mind.

It can be a lengthy process. Give yourself plenty of time and take it day by day, minute by minute. Stay present and pay attention. Watch your own reaction to each situation as it arises, and don't be disappointed if you think you've reacted in a way that doesn't represent your integrity - give yourself credit for recognizing it! It'll be much easier to identify the voice next time a similar situation arises. Every realization, no matter how small it seems, is an expansion of your awareness - it ALL helps!

If you're confused about the way you react, take a moment and picture the healthiest, most generous way you could relate to the situation. This can be your example to work from next time you meet a similar challenge, or as you feel more and more able to align yourself the idea of your expanded self.

If that still doesn't cut it, you're probably in a situation that requires you to weigh up your own needs with those of another. Be honest with yourself about your needs. If you genuinely think they’ll be compromised should you act according to the other person's wishes, put your needs first.

Look at the way you’re relating to the situation at hand. It might be difficult, but be ready to recognize your own attitudes as being the cause of your discomfort. Often it’s tempting to make yourself out as the victim of the situation, but do you really want to hand the responsibility for how you’re feeling over to someone else? You don’t really need to disempower yourself in this way. How are you responding? How can you change your attitude so that you’re not at the mercy of circumstances?

Do all you can to simplify your life. This is fundamental. It makes it much easier to bring honesty to everything you do.

Be honest with yourself. Communicate. Stay authentic; keep your intentions genuine.

You have all the time in the world, and all the latitude to make as many mistakes as you need to make. You can always reassess and do things differently next time, and any loss you experience as a result of your mistakes was excess to your needs anyway.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

The Hole




The benefit of operating through a social framework is the convenience of a ready-made life-plan, but the price is the denial of your true individuality. It's become habitual, second nature, to smash down the person you really are, in order to exist in the collective: to *fit*.

The wound this causes deep inside expresses itself as a hole - an emptiness inside - which you constantly look for ways to fill. This hole is the prime aspect that defines human beings as we know them today.

The way you relate to other people, to your work, to material possessions; each is motivated by a need to fill up the hole. To feel more complete. Existence itself becomes a chase, a constant effort to have, to draw in, to trap, to gain. And though you sense on some level that the hole will never be filled by any external influence, you relish the temporary fullness you feel as a result, and continue the chase.

When we make a wholehearted decision to be the most honest, authentic version of ourselves that we can be, we begin a process of filling up the hole from the *inside*: for the only way to effect such a change is from the inside.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Defining 'Self'




When you define what it is you most want to do with your day, and then do it, you open the way to who you are, but you can't define *you* by that activity, and at the same time retain the freedom of spontaneity that is essential to selfhood. The moment you associate a consistent activity with your identity, you lock down your idea of self. You become unwilling to change, and therefore unable to grow.

What is the Self, Really? A social idea of 'self' is based on ‘what we do for a living'. Let's be clear that this is a social idea; an effort from an external perspective to classify us. The assumption is that we each must have a function in order to fit in to the social framework, and that the role defines who we are. We each of us have to drop this assumption before we can be our true selves.

How then do I define myself? If I’m not defined by my function, what distinguishes me as an individual? The unique weave that represents who you are is far more subtle than a crude social definition. You have certain combinations of strength and perception that you may or may not be aware of, like an array of flavours that give you your unique essence. As you live through your integrity, these flavours will guide your action and imbue everything you do... And as you interact, the nature of the essence will be continually changing; updating and expanding. You will not be the same you from the dawn to dusk of a single day.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Strength and Weakness




In general, our idea of what it is to be strong; to be weak, is way off-beam.
We see a person with a stiff, unfeeling mask, another who works hard at the expense of all else in life, another who fights and destroys, and we afford a definition of strength, of bravery.

A person who finds themselves greatly challenged might switch off their feelings so they can achieve what it is they feel they need to achieve. This is a kind of strength. But a person who remains in touch with their feelings has a far greater strength. And by definition, they must have great courage to remain sensitive, feeling, in spite of the pain that can bring.

A 'cultured reserve' is how we describe what is considered to be a positive character trait in the social context. The trait may have been arrived at through cultural values, by life experiences or both, but whichever way you look at it, it is a limiting, weakening factor to be reserved, to be aloof; disconnected from others. To remain open - as open as you might with a close friend or even a lover - towards the people you meet in any circumstances, is evidence of real strength.

Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Monday, 19 March 2012

Taking the Plunge





So you've tasted, glimpsed a snapshot moment of your *self* in its most gloriously healthy, honest state; and now you feel motivated to *be* that person - the best version of you that you can imagine - in your everyday waking life.

Taking the plunge, going in to the challenge of selfhood, it can seem like the choices you have to make are way too hard; the stakes way too high. So many aspects of your life that you are emotionally and perhaps financially invested in are on the line.

Let's cut to the chase: You can't go wrong. That's primarily what I want to say - you cannot go wrong. At times it will certainly feel like you are going wrong, but stay open, and stay on the path dictated by your honesty... and some way down the track you'll see it was right after all.

The essential point is this: if you act with integrity, you will only lose those things that are not important. *If* you act with integrity.

Once you’ve thrown yourself into the raging stream, as it were, you often feel raw, but the rawness keeps you in touch with your integrity, so you are more likely to act from it. Stay as present as you can. Listen to, and watch everything, especially yourself.

- Download the free ebook 'The Willing Misfit' at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Belief





Belief Versus Question

Put simply, belief is the suppression of question. Look at that again:

Belief is the suppression of question.

This single sentence throws a big spanner in the works. Belief is such a huge part of our daily lives, and one tiny sentence can show how much we are deceiving ourselves - for when we suppress question in favour of belief, we choose irrational faith in place of reason; we invest in a part of the picture and ignore the rest.

This goes for believing anything - from the claims of a 30-second television commercial, to a 2000-year-old established religion.

To *disbelieve*, however, would also be self-deception. Cynicism and its cousins doubt and scepticism are expectations that things are not true; disbelief is still a belief, but this time a belief in the negative. Question is neutral: to be unsure, to accept the possibility that something might, or might not be true. Is it so harmful to remain honest and unsure?

The honest-thinker looks dispassionately at everything on offer, and gives interim credence to whatever seems to makes sense. An on-going allegiance to some idea or other without constant re-appraisal is crude, dishonest thinking, for the world is changing; expanding every moment, and if we are to continue growing and expanding too, we must use our intelligence to reassess our ideas on a regular basis.

Certainly, this constant questioning is less convenient than belief, but it's essential to honest thinking. And ultimately, rather than making things more difficult, honesty simplifies life. As you believe less, the busying aspects of those beliefs drop away too.

- Download 'The Willing Misfit' for free, at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Dealing With Sensitivity



Sensitivity is a gift, not a curse. But often it feels like the latter, because we live through a filter; a lifetime of associations that cause us to define things in a negative, disempowering way.
The 'gift' is the simple ability to connect with the heart. If we stay conscious of how we relate, we can operate through this ability without the pain that many sensitives suffer.
As we grow up, we unwittingly adopt a whole framework of socially-contrived values. It's essential that a sensitive person learns to think for themselves, because it's these second-hand values that underpin the vast majority of the hurt we associate with the various aspects of everyday life. My book 'Willing Misfit' examines ways we can learn to think for ourselves and realign the way we relate. Rather than go into detail here, I refer you instead to this resource:

Download 'The Willing Misfit' for free, at
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Tuning the mind

Soup

A sensitive, creative person will often feel so inundated with thoughts (their response to stimuli being so broad ranging) that their mind will feel like soup. Schooling the mind through conventional education will bring a kind of order, but usually an order dictated by social principles; a rigid idea of the world that allows social function, but not genuine self-discovery.

Here's the good news: if you apply yourself wholly and honestly to an activity you really love, you will learn to think in a more organized fashion, without limiting your mind to social function. More on this later.

Resistance

If you've determined that you’re no longer satisfied with the way your mind has been working, and make efforts to change it, the mind can seem to resist. What’s actually happening is the exact opposite: you are resisting your mind's habitual patterns, with the resulting friction. You'll find this is a common reaction when you’re attempting to change the way you think. A problem arises when you feed back with a correspondingly resistant reaction, 'there it goes again: I knew it. That damned pattern is still there.' You chastise your mind as if it were a naughty boy, and in turn, engender more resistance. And so it goes on, an endless loop of resistance based on the misapprehension that the harder you try to change your thinking pattern, the more likely you are to succeed.

Your mind is not a separate entity that can block your efforts to be yourself. It’s important you recognize that every part of your being is there to serve you. Integrity is the allowance of all parts of you to work integrally; as one.


- Download 'The Willing Misfit' for free, at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Out of Mind





The Mind

The mind is an incredibly complex computer that happens to be hardwired into your body. And that's all it is. It accesses masses of data stored and cross-referenced from foetus-hood up till today (and who knows what else), but it needn't dictate who you are any more than that old desktop computer you have in the back room.

When you are using your mind to make choices based on honest, healthy assessments, it serves you - as one would expect of any computer - and you are the master. But if you have programmed your mind with a second-hand values system, and reason only through that, you are not the master of your mind: the values system is, because you’re not thinking for yourself.

Logic

Your mind is the tool that cross references information to form definitions of yourself and your world. These definitions form a web of logic through which you operate.

Because the socially contrived values system includes things such as expectations of duty according to social role, and various commonly held beliefs regarding property, identity and relationships, its whole logic is biased heavily towards the rights and wrongs of that framework. You cannot use this logic to make choices in alignment with your own personal integrity, and have to redefine how your mind works; build your own independent sense of logic according to your truth.

! Rather than a convenient way to avoid social duties you still feel subject to, your own logic must be based upon a wholly honest view of the world through your own principles.


- Download 'The Willing Misfit' for free, at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137307

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Authority




Whether or not you decide to hand over responsibility to someone else, you are the true author of your life.

Growing up, we’ve learned this isn’t so. We’ve created external authority to take responsibility for our lives, and we’ve come to depend on it so much, that it’s difficult to step back from it without fear for our survival.

Many who find themselves dissatisfied with a social framework have difficulty relating to authority figures because they’re aware that they want to take back their own authorship of their lives, but aren’t sure how to go about it. When dealing with external authority, they’ll put up a stoical front or even engage in conflict just to show that they’re not subject to that authority.

Determined efforts to show that you’re not subject to authority show you actually believe that you are: A person who is aware of their own authority over their life doesn’t take the trouble to oppose - there’s no reason to. And this kind of person treats all others - including those in social positions of authority - with respect, because they

1) have no fear of them,
2) care about them as human beings, whatever their beliefs, and
3) are not interested in causing difficulty for themselves.

The way you relate to others reflects your self-image. If you have a healthy respect for yourself, you’ll find you also have a healthy respect for everyone you meet. This is fundamental. There’s no shortcut; no convenient way around this - for you simply cannot care for all aspects of yourself, if you don’t care for all types of other people.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Selfhood vs Selfishness





Selfhood is a state that is achieved primarily by taking responsibility for your true self and the way it is expressed. A person in selfhood operates from a place in which collective legitimacy is not required, because their own sense of legitimacy is enough. They operate truly from the self, and not from an adopted set of principles.

There are several words in the English language that encompass broad or sometimes even mutually-conflicting meanings. This can cause confusion in our communication and how we regard certain concepts. The term 'Selfish' is widely regarded as a negative term, meaning 'to put one's needs before those of others'. The word in technical terms merely expresses a focus on the self, but as a social collective we have afforded the word, and therefore the simple concept of focus on the self, a negative meaning.

Social principles dictate that we put the needs of others before our own, or compromise until we reach a watered-down version of ourselves that is socially acceptable, because this is the 'fair' way to co-exist with others. The general consensus is that ‘if everyone did their own thing, the social framework would fall apart’, but it's because no one really does their own thing that life is so dissatisfying for so many people.

When a person finds selfhood, they're operating through their own set of principles, arrived at through honesty and integrity. They fill up the hole caused by a life of self-suppression, and for the first time have a foundation from which to afford genuine consideration for other people: not because it's required of them, but because they want to give it.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Idea of Self






Self-image

A member of a social collective defines 'self' in terms of a social context: the person they’ve shaped themselves into in order to fit; the face they show the world. A true sense of self is almost non-existent, because they've fashioned their persona using a menu of parts deemed familiar, appealing and/or useful to the collective. This is Social Self-image.

Even the classic idea of a social 'rebel' has a menu from which a dissatisfied individual might build their social self-image, often cannibalizing bits of familiar mannerisms and fashions that characterize other 'downtrodden' groups.


Self-worth

Our sense of self-worth plays a large part in the way we approach life. Our choices of partner, diet, general health, etc.; our ability to love and respect another, all reflect what we feel about ourselves.

My own family have always given me love and respect, but a careful upbringing doesn’t necessarily equal a healthy sense of self-worth. Many parents have expectations that reflect their own self-image, and correspondingly there are a lot of people who feel trapped in a sense of duty to their parents and society in general.

Even the pampered child who goes through the current education system is moved to discard their sense of self in favour of social approval, and is left dependent on social consent in all choices they make. This disempowers, and crushes self-worth: a state of affairs that frequently leads to unhealthy life choices.

Often what stands in the way of improving our day-to-day lives is an underlying doubt that we really deserve improvement. If we believe we don’t deserve to achieve the best version of ourselves we can imagine (you might be surprised to learn that this is par for the course), we’ll find ourselves regularly confronted by our fears while on the journey to selfhood.

There’s no way around this one, either: When our aim is to achieve something that we have learned we shouldn’t have, we have to unlearn the stuff that’s blocking the achievement.

An integral part of my personal challenge on the journey to selfhood was some serious realignment of my sense of self-worth. It was scary! To achieve the picture I was creating that was representative of my best self, I constantly had to reach higher - higher for things I actually didn’t feel I deserved, because my stunted sense of self-worth didn’t readily embrace such seeming beauty and wonder.

Often I didn’t get what I’d hoped for – these were usually hopes that harboured hidden social agendas, like a need to be approved of – but there was always something in the aftermath that offered encouragement; something that showed I was on the right track: not the least of which was an enhanced sense of self-worth that resulted from simply having given things my best shot in the face of my own doubts.

And the track was ever-shifting; zig-zagging constantly into areas of life that I needed to redefine because of my attachment to a social idea of achievement: recognition, success, approval.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Investing



Our investments in the various areas of our lives can underpin our whole sense of being; define who we suppose ourselves to be.

Investment in the Status Quo

As a member of a social collective, your perspective on the world around you has been strongly influenced by your wholesale acceptance of a prescribed set of social values.

These values stand between you and realization of your true self. Though adopted from the wider social collective, they’ve become your own by default. Major – I mean major chunks of your life are defined according to someone else's ideas about life.

Although some cultures have been more active in the recognition of individuality, there remains an assumption that every single human being is inherently a product of his or her culture, and therefore religion, language, heritage, caste, class and so on.

I assert most emphatically that this is not the case. We each of us have the ability to choose how we relate to the values we grew up with, but often we don’t recognize this fact, let alone actually make the choices.

Before we go on, let's get one thing clear: I'm not for a moment suggesting that all of these choices are going to be easy to make. It takes courage to make decisions based on your own independent assessments.

Take a look at yourself and reflect a moment on whether you believe yourself to be a courageous person. However you respond, I'm fairly sure that you're more courageous than you suppose. In fact, the less courageous you consider yourself to be, the more likely it is that you have guts to spare.

A person who's experienced a lot of fear in their lives is usually the sort of person who regularly puts themselves into situations that require courage (though they might not be aware they’re doing this), and has coped one way or another, no matter how they judge their ability to handle those situations. Memories of their fear will often seem to be evidence of a lack of courage because of the overriding, lasting emotional impressions.

Investment in Relationships

We often define ourselves through our relationships with family and friends. The expectation of consistency with regard to who you are, in relation to them, is a major factor that keeps you in a holding pattern.

Investment in Career

From toddlerhood through schooling through professional life, your achievements can seem to define who you are. This is an illusion. You are not what you've done. Whether other people define you in these terms or not is immaterial.

Investment in Goals

Central to the idealized philosophy of the goal, is the concept of result. We’re encouraged to have an inflexible idea of what our goals are, from which any deviation is defined as ‘giving up’, or ‘accepting less’. The problem here is, that intermeshed with the individual’s goal, are the values of the social collective. The motivations for achieving the goal are often based on external values, such as the social ideals of approval, status, success. For the person who’s made a conscious decision to be their natural self, preserving and realizing such an externally-defined goal is not possible. Neither is it desirable.

The sense of lack owing to suppression of the self is behind the need to ‘make something of yourself’; to ‘leave your mark’. I’m not suggesting the desire to do these things should likewise be suppressed. I do, however, suggest that passions, dreams, hopes are better pursued whole-heartedly; all the stops pulled out.
When you engage fully in being the best you that you can imagine, you start in earnest on your journey to selfhood. The shape and quality of the goals will inevitably change as you gradually drop the need to achieve in social terms, and focus on the purely individual, genuinely nourishing aspect.

Investment in Property

The things you’ve worked for, built perhaps with your own hands, are nice to have if they’re not standing in the way of your being yourself. The attainment and maintenance of property can bring pressure into your life if the financial wherewithal comes at a cost elsewhere, or if any other required input depletes you.

Investment in Religion

Your sense of the spiritual in your life might have a strong foundation in an organized religion. If so, this is somebody else's idea of spirituality, graciously mapped out in great detail with the best of intentions, but nonetheless a second-hand, ready-made structure of convenience.

You can take snippets of truth from anywhere and form your own sense of spirituality; there's no need to take on someone else's ideas wholesale, whether they’re purported to come directly from 'God' or not - for you must find your own idea of God. Parts of the Bible, the Talmud, the Quran, writings of an eastern mystic, something you read in someone's blog on the internet… Any and all might make wonderful sense to you. Great! You don't need an established order to give legitimacy to your own honest sense of the spiritual.

Investment in Victimhood

When we bear a grievance, and place blame for it elsewhere, we’re defining ourselves as victims. Within the logic of a social collective, we’re all victims. Victims of power-hungry politicians; victims of rising unemployment, house and food prices; victims of unsustainable practices that damage the environment.

Now we have a very important choice to make, that deeply affects our ability to think for ourselves: We can choose to passionately maintain victimhood, or we can take a sideways step, and remove ourselves from the equation. Only you can decide whether it’s relevant for you to maintain your relationship to those aspects of society that cause you difficulties. If you feel passionately about the issues, and have a deep urge to act in relation to them, then this is the path you must take for the time being.

But if relating to these same issues leaves you feeling encumbered and weary, it’s time to drop your investment in the victimhood. In any case, it’s unlikely you’ll be much help to anyone - including yourself - in your weary state. Untethered, you can still be aware of the problems in society, have compassion for the suffering they cause, and still remain interested; able to act if that seems appropriate - but to do so from your own integrity.

Foolish sayings like ‘you’re either part of the problem, or part of the solution’ are symptomatic of a crude social expectation that we must take sides. If you are not passionately motivated to act one way or another, you owe it to yourself to stand back and look at the whole picture.

Inconvenient Truth



Inconvenient Truth

US politician Al Gore used the term 'inconvenient truth' to describe the way we conveniently ignore the fact of the degeneration of the earth's ecological system. I think the term describes the way people think in general: we’re constantly ignoring aspects of life that are inconvenient to think about, because they clash with the social collective's world view, and threaten our secure place in society.

A society is a web of convenience. It exists in its present form because people want a convenient centralized system of values and action: it provides a framework that tells them what they can expect from society and what society can expect from them.

The benefit of belonging to such a framework is the convenience of a ready-made life-plan, but the price is the denial of your true individuality. It's become habitual, second nature, to smash down the person you really are, in order to exist in the collective: to fit.

The wound this causes deep inside expresses itself as a hole; an emptiness inside which you constantly look for ways to fill.

A Man of Parts



People all around the world are dissatisfied with some, or all of the major elements of their lives: work, education, relationships. But the way things are structured in their societies seems to dictate how they live their lives, and there’s no obvious alternative.
Society’s changing fast. Very fast. We’re becoming more aware, more honest with ourselves, because there’s no other direction in which to go.

This new honesty is causing an increasing amount of friction as we struggle to hold onto familiar aspects of life that offer us the security we want, but conflict with our new clarity of vision.
With the best intentions, we constantly adjust our social systems, but still only cosmetic changes are made to a framework built on a weak foundation. The nature of the foundation itself is never questioned or even pondered on for long, because it's inconceivable that we would, or even could, change it. This foundation, the core of society as we know it, is based on a principle that we willingly subscribe to as we grow up: ‘It's more important for you to be useful than it is to be yourself’.

It seems to me this principle is flawed beyond all hope of redemption.

Many of the people who subscribe to a society with this value system are satisfied that this is the best, if not the only way to live. They’ll resist attempts to make anything more than minor changes, and ensure that something closely resembling the status quo is maintained for some time yet. And of course, it has to be observed that among those who are dissatisfied, there are degrees of dissatisfaction: most won’t be willing to make major changes at the expense of what they’ve built up in their lives.

There are, however, some who are in a very unpleasant place. They’re very aware that things as they stand do not work for them, and yet have no idea how to deal with the situation: they ask, ‘What else is there but this?’

So this is what we have to work with, or against...
... Or is it really that clear-cut?

I say it's not. The alternative is to carve out your own way of living, and to quietly get on with it, happily existing alongside society's subscribers, and recognizing their right to do what they want, as well as your own. I can speak from experience, because I’ve taken the steps outlined in this book, and now have a very satisfying life doing what I want every minute of the day, every day.
In the mid-1990s, I took the plunge, and decided that from that moment on, I was going to live my truth, no matter what happened. I went all the way – dropped most of the things in my life that people regard as necessities. Some - perhaps many - who read this book will not be interested in ‘going all the way’. Others might find some of the material useful in their lives, but stop short of going the whole hog.

But I think there’s something in this book for everybody - Whether the reader transforms what they read into action or not, there's the potential for their understanding and acceptance of the many people around the world who are acutely aware that the current social framework doesn't work for them.

It can be a difficult challenge to take a different road, to define and maintain your own way of living - but this is what you must do if you want to actually be yourself. Its achievement requires honesty and a willingness to embrace uncertainty.

Going in, this seems like a very hard ask, and often the convenience of the social collective seems tempting, but once on the road the sense that you’re the author of your life gives you a new freedom, and it's easier to carry on than it is to go back - in fact, the idea of going back is akin to staying in bed all day, rather than getting up and facing life... For when you really face life, you are really alive…

And isn't that what we're here for, after all?

Monday, 12 March 2012

SELFHOOD



So what is selfhood? What’s it like to live life in such a state? Mostly it’s an awareness of what choices you have, and a willingness to take responsibility for them.

The conscious journey to selfhood begins with a deconstruction of the world you know; a total overhaul of the picture that has been presented to you as ‘normality’ since you were born.

At first, it can seem like a battle, because the values that don’t suit you tend to fill your field of vision – but gradually as you define a whole new set of healthy values that work for you, the field becomes wider; the choices more varied, and more clearly defined.

In selfhood, you’re consciously making choices in accord with your own idea of the world, rather than automatically operating through - and therefore subjecting yourself to - the values that society collectively defines.

It might seem that a life of constant assessment and evaluation would be unnecessarily complex, but it’s not. By its nature, life in selfhood is very simple. As you gradually peel away the socially prescribed aspects of your life, you also dump most of the complexities that define the social aspect of your identity. Gradually your world settles into a state of peaceful clarity.  

Socially-defined choices carry a subtext that evokes fear: the benefits of acting in your own interests are always weighed against the consequences. But when you live through your own set of principles, you can consider your range of choices without fear or guilt, because they’re your principles. You make the choice instead of submitting to the scary ambiguity of someone else’s decisions.

You no longer choose to make anyone else responsible for your life. This is a crucial point. Social values have you believe that someone else makes the choices that control your life – but they don’t, unless you grant them that responsibility: Also your choice.

Often our choices are made by the way we live, rather than conscious decision, and the transformation from unconscious to conscious makes up the large part of a journey to selfhood; like the difference between sleeping and waking.

With awareness of your choices comes the ability to do what you want every day. You feel a deep sense of fulfilment, and become more and more present to the now: You can appreciate what you have and where you are standing.

It’s not an easy road to selfhood. It’s very likely that on the way you’ll become a fairly cold, isolated individual before you find your way back to a genuine desire to be social once more. Many of the aspects of social values that actually work and are important to a healthy life, get dumped along the way when you define your own set of values – like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Often they’re simple human kindnesses and issues of compassion that social values have distorted by adding a subtext of obligation. Obligation is like a snaking vine that’s tangled almost inextricably through many aspects of ‘normal’ social life, and in the drive to neutralize it, healthy aspects of human interaction are temporarily wiped out by association.

However, as you settle into selfhood, you stop blaming people for their values and begin to care about them again. When you’re truly free of obligation and duty, you come full circle back round to being a social being once more; relating through your own set of principles, from a genuine kindred feeling.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The 'WILLING MISFIT' Book


Social values tell us it's more important to be useful than it is to be ourselves. If we decide that our priority is being who we are, does it mean we'll be at odds with society? Not necessarily. 'The Willing Misfit' asserts that we can all live the life that we prefer.

If you've grown up experiencing the world through social values, your life, and everything in it, are products of somebody else's ideas. Laying aside the true expression of self has allowed you to fit in, but if your aim is to live an honest life, you cannot carry on in this direction. 'The Willing Misfit' examines how you can find your own set of values through honesty, and through integrity of thought and action. It offers tools that help to discover what it is to think for yourself, rather than depending on social logic, and best of all, it prompts and encourages you along a path of your own choosing... to reveal your own true selfhood.

Download this book for free at the Smashwords Store (click to go to the site).