We’re not only defined by what we chose to do in our lives, but how we do it. We are categorized by outward and inward perceptions, each of us, akin to novels, and are thusly classified into genres.
Ah, she’s a romantic mystery with a dash of humor.
That guy over there is a political intrigue, with a splash of old school patriarchy.
Ah, she’s a pushy self-help, peppered with self-righteousness and a healthy pinch of praise-Jesus.
That lady over there is a bitter cozy mystery with a hint of post-menopausal lack of fucks to give.
We are defined by the things we do. We’re put into categories by people we know, and by companies that gather our data. Even when we don’t ask for it, we’re given a neat little label. And sometimes, when we’re overloaded and overworked, we start using that label as our only sense of self, as we desperately try to remember our purpose… And sometimes, we use those labels as a scapegoat for our less-than-desirable behaviors.
I’ve been trying to meditate every day and have been working through a series on my app (yeah, look at me, getting all tech-savvy with an app to help me reconnect with my humanness…seems oxymoronic) about acceptance, depression, letting go, and stress management.
One recurring phrase I hear is: You are not your thoughts or your feelings.
This is a hard concept to grasp.
Humans are this odd mishmash of biology and higher neuronic thought processes. I mean on one of our great ape-grasping hands we’re barely getting used to this hairless bipedal thing, on the other hand we’re philosophical, heavy in the head, braining entities who, when left to our own devices will overthink ourselves into a coma.
Maybe there’s a fear that if we disconnect to our thoughts then we won’t know who we are.
Maybe we fear we’ll lose the basis of our existence if we let go of the ideas and feelings tethering us down.
But this is not so.
You see, thoughts and emotions change. All the time. And the reason humans become so miserable is that we tie ourselves to them, try to define ourselves by them. Then we are less apt to let them go, especially when they hold the addictive qualities of self-spiraling sadness and anger. We feel sad. We are sadness. We feel anger. We’re angry humans.
Conversely, when we are happy or elated and the emotion passes, as it will with the natural ebb and flow of life, we cling to it desperately and feel like something’s gone wrong when its tying us down.
Should we let go of happiness. No. Should we reject sadness and admonish ourselves for anger? Absolutely not. Be in the moment, with the emotion, understand it is a feeling, acknowledge it and let it go. You’re all that’s left.
Just as we aren’t tied to labels; we are not one genre, we are all genres.
Why is it important that we understand this?
If we are boxed in to what the world has categorized us as, to our labels, we won’t know we can change. We become stagnant and perpetuate behaviors that are detrimental to our happiness and the benefit of humanity.
Secondly: We will feel trapped. And trapped animals lose the will to live. Without will, without passion, we cannot create, we cannot solve, we cannot continue to thrive in the world.
So how do we escape?
Here’s the dirty little secret:
I’m not entirely sure.
I think it has something to do with opening your mind to new ideas, allowing yourself to be different, to change the things about your life you don’t want to be a part of anymore, without guilt or self blame, and to let go of the idea that you are the personification of your thoughts and feelings.
You can be anything. Or just some things.
Or nothing at all.
Cross genres. Explore. Maintain your free will. While those that seek to control will tell you, free will is our greatest vice as human beings, that it causes us to make decisions that don’t align with status-quo, religious concepts, or dictator-imposed law and thus brings about the downfall of society, this is not the case.
There’s a reason the Dark Ages happened.
Free will, your ability to change, to move, to think differently are vital to not just survival but your purpose in life.
So what genre are you today?