When we were little, before our brains could understand what exactly was happening and why, we started learning about this big, beautiful, complex world around us. Step by step we extracted information from our reality and related it to ourselves and to our own sense of self.
For the majority of people, having a sense of self is actually hard to imagine without the things he or she does. If you ask the question to yourself “Who am I?” without having to answer with the things you do , can you answer the question?
What is it that you are? What makes you what you are?
In either case, answering this question will make you think about what other people think of who you are and about what kind of feedback they have given you during your lifetime. It will also most certainly make you think about what your parents gave you as a feedback when you were too little to distinguish between opinions of others and actual self. Psychologists nowadays are rooting problems in our adulthood with problems of our childhood and more often than not, parents are said to have the biggest guilt if they haven’t satisfied an essential need to the child, whether emotional or physiological.
However, as we grow older, we start to find that we have narrowed our perceptions, based on what was given to us as a feedback in our childhood and in our adulthood. We start to ignore things in favor of other things, that for our subjective psychological reasons have higher priority. We don’t have an unlimited amount of time, nor we have unlimited amount of energy to focus on everything that is actually happening in life. We use the learned techniques to ignore and prioritize what we find to be important- a combination of things that are either the ones we want in our lives, or the ones we are afraid of and run from.
Somewhere in the middle of this, however, is our life. Here and now, complex, messy and hard, easy, beautiful, happy, miserable. A soup of options, possibilities, chances, decisions, choices, roads we have taken, roads we have not taken, people, memories, places. Every day holds an opportunity for something new and each new sunrise is a new promise for new seconds, minutes, hours to do and be.
When we hear about inspirational people who have done amazing things and have achieved glorious and brave things in their lives, we often hear how they have never given up, how they had a vision or persistence to continue even in the face of tremendously hard events. We often ask ourselves how have they done it? For me, the answer lies within. In the corridors of your life, in the essence of your soul, in the depths of your mind lies an incredible possibility for growth that is waiting to be explored.
It’s you. Not what you have identified with and not what you have heard people think about you.
It’s what you could have been if you could have seen yourself as who you are and what you are meant to accomplish, instead of what the perception of people made out of you.
In the heart of this issue lies the essence of replacing crucially important things in our lives. We do this, because we need to fit in. We need to be likable and we need to have social circle. But mostly – because we have no idea who we really are and how to explore the depths of our own existence. So we learn by analogy of what other people are, what they do and what they think of life in general.
We have a perfect idea of what the good life is supposed to be.
The problem is that this is how society stays the way it has to stay for those, who have learned how to effectively control it to their own interests. It’s the way to disconnect from ourselves and our experiences in life, to rely on opinions, rather than on what we really feel and think. It’s how we start to become zombie-like.
Because what we do is we replace the messy reality of human contact with virtual superficial connection.Virtual is easy. Relationships are not. Our own insecurities and our own loneliness is how we start to rely more and more on technology and less on people. It’s how we stop caring for what in reality is happening with people, because we have virtual audience and thus, we can always share what we think and what we feel. However, we forget the essential – this is not human contact, this is a replacement.
If you crave connection, you have to create one. If you can’t create one, you suffer. If you suffer, you need to escape the pain. If you ignore your own need and get an easy way out, you feel better. The easy way out has many names and they are all addictions. Virtual reality, food, drugs, alcohol…oh, everything that will make you forget who you are.
And people who don’t know who they are, are easy to manipulate. How will you fight for what’s important to you, if you have no idea what you stand for, what you really like and dislike, if you haven’t explored and tried different things or if you don’t even know what you never want to try and explore?
Most of us believe we live in a materialistic kind of age. It’s true and it’s not in the same time. What I have found out to be an undeniable truth, is that people use things to impress other people and raise their value in society. If you have more, you are worth more. There is nothing materialistic in this,because in it’s root it’s purely a way to make ourselves feel good about who we are, based on what we have. So we exchange feeling good because we are good, with feeling good because we have. Now, you can see how dangerous this perception has brought us – we are a generation of adults who don’t want to involve in the messy topics of life, such as real relationships, when we can focus on the easy way out – like being virtually present and having the most we can have with the money we can gain.
We are trading essential things like kindness, love, attention, faith, persistence, work, values with the easy things – virtual life, money, materialistic signs of our worth, fame, status, ignorance.
For what is worth, I believe this process can lead us to devastating destruction of our minds and hearts. As someone has said once, “the capacity of love itself is the capacity to pay attention to another human being.”
In an age where attention is something we lack in our everyday and distractions change our brains for the worse, how do we expect to even have the capacity to pay true attention to another human being? Or to other human beings in general? It will become increasingly hard.
This is one way in which we trade the essential things in life for the easy things in life, out of lack of discipline, social pressure, fear of intimacy or any other reason. Sadly, they will cost the quality of our lives tomorrow, when we wake up in a world that can not even recognize what love means if it’s not expressed by an emoticon or a cheesy quote. As our age confirms – the capacity to be human, to be real and to feel intensely are all habits that can be un-learned with time and compromised in the name of technology and easiness of life. The zombie-like lifestyle is part of our culture, but it shouldn’t be part of our desire to improve and be better.
Life is messy, but that’s what makes it beautiful.Ignoring the hard things in life won’t make one’s life easy, it will make it ignorant. Ignoring our own feelings won’t make us strong, it makes us irrelevant to situations where we need to express feelings and especially – to feel the craziness and the wholeness of the experience, called existence.