Keeping inside the lines
The way we behave, what we say, what we do are all down to our beliefs and fears. What we believe about ourselves and our environment, our circle of friends, colleagues and our business. The reason is because of the fear of being judged, ridiculed, made fun of, due to what we, as an individual, believe in.
We have, or believe we do, an idea of what our wider circle is like – what they think, what they believe in, their likes and their dislikes. These are all things that we believe we know from the observations we make and our experiences.
So, we stay inside those lines to prevent us from being judged by the people we know. It’s like the drawing books we got as children, with a drawing that we had to colour-in. Hopefully you were left to use the colours you wanted, but what was worse was when the colour was chosen for us – how’s that for removing any creativity?
Or even when you went outside the line and was told to stay inside the lines, that that’s the reason they are there, that it’s untidy to go outside the line – how’s that for conformity? You feel that you are being judged for the actions you took or things you said.
And what about “that colour”? A person has to be pink or brown or whatever the colour “ought” to be (think about this), the leaf is meant to be green (is it always spring), the tree bark “must” be brown (why not a birch) – these were the ideas of other people, opinions, past on to us, creating our view of life.
Most of us are still drawing inside those lines.
Even if you are self-employed or own a business, you may have broken away from the mould, to start with, but are you doing things, running things, how they’ve always been done? Do they still apply? Could you do them better? Could they been done better?
Have you stopped breaking the mould?
A business should be “like this”, “it’s how it’s always been done”, “that’s how it is” – I hear these sentences every day, when you talk to people about doing things differently. They revert back to the normal talk that they have heard ever since they were children. Staying within the norm to prevent themselves or their business from being judged.
What they are referring to, is the way that a society is and how society sees things. What the majority forget, is that the same was said about automobiles, trains, airplanes, electricity (look up the story of alternating current) – that it was not the way forward. Now, they are a basic part of travel, communication and living.
Change is inevitable. Whether you want it to happen or not makes no difference – it’s going to happen. Whether it’s a good change or not is another matter, but, again, it’s how you deal with it, mentally and physically.
One of the lessons I learned from my dad, was that if something works, let it be. If it breaks or no longer works, get someone that knows how, to fix it. But, if there’s a better way of doing it, do it.
My dad, like me, was a military man. Doing something different is not the military way of doing things – everything has a reason. So, I don’t need to tell you the importance of the last comment, when you take into consideration the background of the man who said it.
I don’t keep within the mould – never have and never will. That last comment taught me to look further than the point ahead of me. I’ve listened to many others echoing that same idea, saying to look five, ten, fifteen years ahead and more.
Staying with the “current thought” is not always the best way ahead, especially if you want to break the mould of where you are in life – all parts of your life. You’ve got to figure out where you want to be and, regardless of the fear, uncertainty and friction that will come, move towards it.
That word again – fear is the single most reason why we don’t move forward towards our dreams. The fear of being judged.
A friend was telling me that he had lost enthusiasm in everything that he does, that nothing drives him. He started considering doing a course that he will never use. He’s lost the passion in what he does.
It happens. Our passions change through life, we make a shift, as Wayne Dyer said. What we used to like and enjoy may no longer do so, because our priorities have changed. We just haven’t realised it yet.
However, rather than facing this truth, we decide not to. Why?
Fear. Criticism. Pain. Loss. Add your own word here….
Fear is a complex word. It has many emotions, many meanings. It’s the result of many other emotions and ideas. And all of them lead to the same place – refusal and inaction.
We don’t change jobs, we don’t go and do that class we want to, we don’t speak to that person, we don’t make that call, we don’t go to the gym, we don’t do many other things. Where as if we did, our life would improve, our mental health would, we’d grow spiritually.
There is no right or wrong in life – just choices. As long as what we do does not affect another person in a bad or negative way. All what’s left is experience and learning how not to do something and how to do it better the next time.
Staying within the lines of what is expected is what has kept most people in jobs they hate, marriages that aren’t working, relationships that should not be, going after material objects they don’t really care for but must have because of image. The list of “why’s” is endless.
The fear of being judged doesn’t stop there. What about saying what needs to be said, because everyone else would rather turn a blind eye to it? Doing what needs to be done that goes against what everyone else says?
What if you are not religious in a religious family? What if you are religious when everyone else is not? What about your sexuality – fearing to tell your parents you are gay?
Breaking the mould is not just about a career or a job. It’s about every single part of our lives. And this, as well, is a choice. A choice between saying or doing what must be said or done or not.
The mistake we make is that we also tend to underestimate, as well as overestimate, other people compared to us. We feel that we won’t be accepted afterwards or that it will have no reaction. What the outcome is, it’s something that we will have to deal with – inevitably.
What you have to ask yourself is this – are you willing to live this way for the rest of your life? Are you willing to accept this way of life?
No words are ever the right words, no action is always the perfect action and there is no such thing as the perfect time – although, there is appropriate words, action and timing.
Engage your mind and think. Why are you where you are? What judgement do you fear? On what do you fear being judged on?
Integrity and honesty are not values just to hold yourself by, when it comes to others. It’s what you hold yourself on as well.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Thomas A. Edison (on the light bulb)
If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.