This post was originally published on Adriennesmith.net.
Back in 2014, I had the honor of being Adrienne’s first guest author for the new year. I wrote about this topic to help people start off with a sense of freedom, independence, and awareness.
Now even though it’s (almost) three years later, I decided to republish this here. Adrienne has since left the blogging world, so I wanted to make sure this was available, especially since it had received such wonderful feedback in the comment’s section.We're living in strange times. I'm sure you feel it too. #courage #iammyimaginationClick To Tweet
I think many of us are striving for answers, a sense of purpose and a way to live life on our terms.
That takes courage, as I’m sure you know.
But that courage comes from within. You have to have the courage to be YOU.
That will require an open mind and a willingness to challenge what you think you know.
So without further ado, here’s my republished post.
The Courage to Be You
I have a confession to make…
For most of my life, I was at war with myself.
I lived by default because I was a product of my beliefs and opinions and therefore, didn’t know what it meant to be to express myself authentically, nor make intentional and deliberate decisions.
I didn’t have the courage to be me because I didn’t know who “me” was. So I spent my time bumble trippin’ my way through life. If I had a purpose, I wasn’t aware of it. I only knew how to run from my emotions and judge myself and others harshly.
Now while this may be rather candid of me to share – and may seem like a sad tale, I can assure you that it isn’t.
The reason is because I learned something valuable from my experiences that have not only granted me freedom of mind, but have led me to this moment right here and right now – sharing what I hope will be an inspiring message about how to break free from our mental programming, use our emotions wisely and act on the messages of self-awareness they have to offer us.
How We’ve Been Programmed
I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all of us have been raised to accept whatever we’ve been taught by society and through those who have had a direct influence over us.
The ‘rules’ of what it means to be a worthwhile human being have been handed to us by influences outside of our own Innate Intelligence. Examples include religion, advertisements, our family history/dynamics, the entertainment industry, and pretty much everything else in society.
This is a form of conditioning, and it carries such messages as:
- To be attractive, you must look this way
- To be liked, you must behave that way
- To be successful, you must do these things
- To be worthy and good, you must believe those things
- And to be loved, you must – well – all of the above
And if we’re honest with ourselves and take a good, hard look at this concept, we’ll realize that stepping outside of this ‘box of rules’ that has influenced our beliefs about ourselves and the world in general has rendered it pretty tough to develop an independent mind.
As a result, many of us have unknowingly abandoned who we are at our core because we don’t know who this aspect of ourselves really is.
Instead, we have followed the crowd.
Not because we’re weak or bad, but because we’ve confused our true self with the conditioning – unknowingly and unintentionally.
But the good news is that we can be free of this by freeing our minds. By doing so, we’ll align with our true nature and be able to be ourselves.
The process is simple, but will require practicing some emotional intelligence and courage. And if you’ve lined up with reading these words, then it means that you’re meant to do this, if you haven’t already.
I’m going to suggest that a good many of us don’t really understand the true role of what our emotions are designed to do for us.
Instead of giving us a platform in which to make heated decisions based out of desperation and turmoil, our emotions are actually designed to allow us to get to know thyself by acting as our very own internal guidance system, or inner-compass, if you will.
When we experience things like anger, sadness, disempowerment and frustration, we can use these experiences as a way to learn about some of the beliefs we carry around with us and whether or not they really serve our best interests and the best interests of humanity as a whole.
Which is basically the same thing if we understand the concept of “as within, so without”.
I’ll use the workplace as an example.
Let’s say that your boss regularly treats you in a manner that undermines you as a person and comes across as disrespectful. You hate your job and therefore, you hate your daily routine.
Lack of emotional intelligence may result in your developing an addiction in an effort to escape the pain, or perhaps taking your frustration out on others as a way to release the pent-up pain, anger, and frustration.
And sometimes, you may even decide to turn it inward – creating a toxic internal environment that often leads to disease and passive aggressive behavior.
This happens when we don’t understand that our emotions are telling us that we believe something about ourselves that enables us to ‘put up with’ things that don’t resonate with our desire for peace and well-being.
So by using emotional intelligence, instead of the aforementioned results, the situation would look more like this…
Your boss regularly treats you in a manner that undermines you as a person and comes across as disrespectful. You hate your job and therefore, you hate your daily routine.
You go home and realize this makes you feel bad. You ask yourself if it seems right to accept a lifestyle where you are treated this way – and you even question why the opinion of your boss (or anyone else for that matter) comes before your own happiness.
You give it some thought and decide that you aren’t even happy doing what you’re doing!
You’ve only put up with this crap because your father did it and his father did it…and so it was expected that you do as well.
And since you’ve never questioned it, you did as you were told.
But alas – you now realize that you have allowed circumstances to take place in your life by default because you didn’t know how to use your emotions to guide you.
You’ve become aware of the gift of emotional intelligence and by using it in the way it was designed to be used, you have reached a pivotal understanding of how you’ve run your life up until now.
And since you’ve just discovered this truth, you are now FINALLY free to stop the insanity and learn to follow your bliss.
The Role of Courage
So now that it’s been established that proper understanding and use of emotional intelligence can do wonders, it’s time to take that knowledge and act on it.
This is what it means to be courageous.
Knowledge is great, but ONLY in acting on this knowledge will you experience the change you’ve been looking for.
Using the above example, you’ve become keenly aware of what the entire situation was telling you – about you.
Your emotions were informing you that you were living by default and accepting behaviors from yourself and others that didn’t resonate with you and were quite damaging.
But in order to stop from experiencing that same reality, you have to take action on the new knowledge you’ve acquired.
So you sit and ask yourself what makes you come alive naturally. You may even decide to take finance out of the equation for a clearer picture since money tends to paralyze us in fear.
You discover, after asking some meaningful questions and giving it some thought that you have always wanted to work with animals because being around them makes your heart sing.
All that has ever stopped you were the expectations placed on you through your upbringing in addition to the fact that you weren’t sure if it would ever pay the bills of the house you’re too miserable to enjoy anyway.
So you realize that the idea of downsizing and simplifying your lifestyle feels much better – especially if it means being stress-free.
You now have a clue as to what action you can take.
It may involve selling your place and many of your useless possessions while taking a lower paying job doing what you love – as you line up with other like-minded folks and opportunities that will only further enable you to continue to follow in the direction of your dreams.
And in this whole process, you’ve also discovered that you are worthy and deserving of happiness – and that making intentional choices based on your own well-being is such a high form of self-respect that you won’t be able to tolerate anything less.
It wouldn’t make sense to live any other way, and you realize that based on this ONE example, you are now free to discover how other prior conditioning may have impacted your life in a negative way.
You’re aware now, though – thanks to knowing how to read and USE your emotions as the tools to self-awareness that they are designed to be.
And you now know how to take inspired action – even if it means ‘sacrificing’ your current lifestyle in order to experience the freedom and inner prosperity that awaits you as a result of this deliberate decision.
This is How We Become Free
In the past I allowed my conditioning to make me feel out of place. I didn’t understand that what my emotions were telling me was that I didn’t see the world the way society wanted me to see it and as a result, I lived in a constant state of cognitive dissonance.
So for a long time, I was incredibly unhappy and unconscious. As a natural result, I allowed circumstances to dictate my state of being and my life in general. This included how I viewed myself in relationship to my surroundings.
But once I learned how to listen to my emotions and question whether or not my programming was even based in truth, I was able to find freedom of mind and start disconnecting not only from the good opinions of others, but from my own programmed negative self-talk as well.
This changed the projector (aka – my outlook) so therefore, it has changed the projected (my circumstances/lifestyle).
In fact, I went from someone who felt out of place in the world and who worked in a career I was terribly unhappy with to making a childhood dream come true by writing my first book (and I’ve since written my second one). It involved taking some risks and truth be told – the whole thing scared the shit out of me…
But I HAD to do it!!!
And my relationships with others, including myself has become more authentic and based on respect as a result of going in alignment with my bliss and becoming self-aware.
I also get to have some fun sharing this message with all of you. And here – back in the day, I didn’t think I was worth listening to.
Quite frankly, I had nothing to say 😉
This is what it looks like to have the courage to be you.
And we’re ALL worthy of it!
If you’ve gotten something powerful out of this message, there’s more like it in my new book, “Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity).” You can grab your copy here.
So how have you been able to express courage in your life? Have you ever freed yourself from a limiting belief or similar form of programming?