Give yourself permission to not be yourself.
What do I mean by this? Each of us operates based on a whole algorithm of qualities that define us:
- This is who I am
- This is what I do
- This is how I act
Given a hypothetical situation, generally we can predict how we would or wouldn’t act.
But imagine for a second that you don’t have to be the way you’ve always been. What if you weren’t so “standardized”? What if you didn’t have to be predictable? What if you could be something else instead?
That’s what freedom is about.
Real freedom is the ability to choose our reaction in any given circumstance. (The word “heretic” originally meant “one who chooses.”) But most of the time, we simply act the way we’ve been pre-programmed to act. It’s like we’re on autopilot.
Here’s a quote by Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Awhile back, some friends and I did a great spiritual-religious exercise called “The Annoyance Pad,” in which we kept a notepad and wrote down every single time we felt annoyed – not noting what annoyed us, just noticing that we were annoyed. That little act of thinking about taking out the notepad interrupted the annoyance cycle.
We all can choose to act differently.
I want to give you permission not to be you – the “you” you usually are. Be an alter-you.
If you consider yourself to be a good person, here is permission to be not so good.
I dare you to be a schmuck on the phone with customer service just to see if you can. You can always apologize at the end of the call and tell the person you’re just doing a spiritual-religious exercise.
My contention is that so many of us are afraid of our “shadow side,” as Jung called it, that we don’t even know how good we truly are. At the same time, we’re constrained because we’re always trying to be so “good.” We limit ourselves because we believe we’re one thing, when really we might be something totally different.
Here’s something really weird about this. While you might feel as though you’re wearing underwear on your head when you act different than usual, the people with whom this alter-you interact probably will not notice.
This week’s spiritual-religious advice:
Don’t be yourself so much.