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News - Final Word
Sunday, 17 November 2013 19:13
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We’re all adults here, so we can say this out loud: It’s time. Most of us don’t have to write exams anymore, few of us are on stage, we live under our own roofs . . . It’s time to let go of the need to perform for someone else’s approval.

It’s time to embrace your own imperfection, take yourself less seriously and have way more fun. Thing is, you can only do this when you choose to experience the universe as an accepting sort of space where you are free to be your imperfect self. Obviously if you don’t feel safe, you’re going to keep striving for perfection and the urge to control things.

To ditch this striving, you have to develop some sort of inverse paranoia of believing that, as Byron Katie says, everything happens for you, not to you. She says you don’t have to like it . . . it’s just easier if you do.

Byron became severely depressed in her early thirties and for nearly a decade she spiralled down into self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide. Then, one morning while in a halfway house for women with eating disorders, she experienced a life-changing realization. In that moment, she says: “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that.”

So, say you get it right to stop trusting your thoughts to make up your identity, then who would you be without ‘your story’? Of course, ideally, you’d be purely and simply in-the-moment, but I suspect that getting there has a lot to do with one’s personality. Really, I still have to see type-five personalities happily nod their heads at the idea of not-trusting-their-thoughts.

Type five, you ask? Yep, as in the enneagram system of personality analysis. This is a set of nine distinct personality types. It is common to find a little of yourself in all nine types, although everyone has one dominating type.

Not everything in your basic type will apply to you all the time because you fluctuate among the healthy, average, and unhealthy traits of your personality. Also, you are a mixture of your type and your wing, which sometimes adds contradictory elements to your personality.

So, why this whole homily on the enneagram? It’s because your personality makes it easier or more difficult to let go of the need of approval or the urge to cling to ‘your story’. See, ‘my story’ is that I’m a classic type four, where people maintain their identity by seeing themselves as fundamentally different from others and often feel exempt from ordinary ways of living. The enneagram is nice enough to call this type the individualist, but in my mind ‘outsider’ has always been a more apt depiction.

And that is probably why I want to quote Timothy Leary as the best way to show that this outsider status is such a sorry-Suzie illusion. You remember Timothy Leary, don’t you? He believed that LSD showed therapeutic potential for use in psychiatry. In any case, Timothy and his associate were fired from Harvard University due to the public controversy surrounding their research. He said:

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the ‘normal people’ as they go about their automatic existences.”

“For every time you say club passwords like “have a nice day” and “weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think déjà vu is for?” Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing?”

“Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts.

Do the unexpected. Find the others . . .”

 

 

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