“Shouldn’t you be doing something?”

Insights are coming in a flurry now.

Sitting at the computer I notice what’s always been there, the feeling of someone looking over my shoulder, a reflection of my own inner sense of shirking my duties.

“Have to” means you owe something. Do I owe anyone anything? I prefer to look at my life in terms of the things I would like, love, and enjoy doing.

The same action can be performed with love or with obligation. Which would you prefer?

The mystics tell us that every particle of creation is vibrating with divine joy and love, not with obligation, burden, and IOU.

What should I be doing, if not enjoying life? What could be more pressing than love, joy, and appreciation?

I have this old pattern of resistance, this thought that someone has demands of me and they aren’t going to be happy with me unless I fulfil them, and even then they won’t be truly satisfied, just temporarily appeased.

But if I’m honest (and there is no such person) I can see that I found some direction, some certainty, and some consolation in letting others tell me what to do.

I came to rely on others for my direction and purpose. That way I didn’t have to work out my own preferences and desires. I could hide behind other people: parents, siblings, friends, and follow their lead.

I could be a non-person who just fitted in with others and received praise for adapting and not resisting.

I didn’t really know how to do my own thing, and I didn’t understand how others were so sure of their preferences. It made sense to give way and it felt good just to follow.

But that’s a shitty way to live your life, and as people grow and variegate and specialise you realise you can’t follow them all.

However daunting it might be to work out what you want, it only takes intention, focus and practice.

And the fear of being criticised, of owning things that might make you stand out and attract unhelpful advice…well isn’t it better to focus instead on the pleasure and enjoyment of following your genuine desires?

Not knowing what you want is not a virtue or a skill. Being insensitive to your own preferences is not the same as being adaptable. Others won’t thank you for fitting in with their plans, they’ll just assume you’re where you want to be anyway.

So why not be there? Work out where you want to be and stop hiding behind other people’s plans and momentum as if they define the limits of your world.

Breaking all the rules

What do the rules mean to you?

To me the rules always seemed bland, boring and miserable.

Whatever success or happiness I enjoyed always seemed to be an exception to the rules.

So I came to expect that my happiness in life had to be “different” and “exceptional” by other people’s standards.

There are no such rules

But what I thought were “the rules” were never any such thing. They were merely the preferences and opinions of the people around me.

Those people were creating their own reality, just as I create mine. Yet by giving priority to those who had “been around longer” I ended up treating my own preferences and perspective as unusual.

I couldn’t get them to validate my perspective, so I viewed it as anomalous myself.

That’s a recipe for frustration because everything I want became, by definition, exceptional, and I grew averse to anything “ordinary” or “normal”.

Yet saying “this is what I want” and in the next breath “but I know it’s unusual, exceptional, and not the norm” means I’ve created a sense of conflict and implausibility to the things I desire.

Imagine someone who tells you their dream is to be an astronaut or a famous actor or a concert pianist, and hurriedly goes on to explain how unlikely that is!

What is normal for me?

I would probably feel a whole lot better if I stopped using other people’s lives as the measure of mine.

Better yet, if I stop using my impression of other people’s perceptions and experiences as the standard.

Why not let my own preferences and desires become normal for me? Why not use my own feelings as the guide, rather than my fear of others’ misunderstanding of me?

I found great strength in the realisation that no one else will live my life for me. Why not take the next logical step of endorsing my own life, opinions, preferences and perspectives as the norm for me?