We all know the expectations, the feelings, and the pressure we feel daily from that great all being power: society. Whether it’s online through social media, at the workplace, school with the need to perform, or at home with family and friends where we all try our best to keep up with the Jones’, it seems there is an expectation thrust upon us everywhere we go before we even have the chance to settle in and get our bearings.
We hear it time and again:
“Well, you know how society is.”
“It’s just what is expected.”
“If the world were different, maybe I could…”
But who is really behind this? Who sets the expectations for us and our place in the world?
It seems that when people refer to what society expects and even imposes on us, no one can ever identify who sets these rules. They just appear to be mandatory ways of life that have been long established in order to keep any level of discomfort to a subtle lull. We follow along and conform like sheep being corralled for the shearing. Never asking a question. Never looking for other options. Never objecting and saying: “Winter is coming, I want to keep that layer.”
Yet you may notice there are those who refuse to conform. Have you seen them? They will stick out like a sore thumb in any crowd, doing everything they can to defy the rules of society. Dressing in a way that brings them attention. Acting out in a way that goes against the flow of our established and ordained traditions. Doing anything they can to make sure the world knows they refuse to be controlled by society. But there is a strong irony in their actions. I would argue that by doing everything they can to defy society, they are in fact letting society dictate how they act. They are still allowing all of their actions to be based on the reaction and acceptance of society, so, therefore, they are feeding into the power they swear to snub off. Basically, they are giving even more power to the society and rules they want to prove has no control over them.
But still, I wonder who is behind the power. Who sets the rules and decides how we need to behave? If both those who conform and those who throw conforming in the face of society are feeding into the problem and giving it power, then who actually has the power to stop it?
Well, as you will often hear me say, words and actions only have the power over us that we give them. I speak of this often when I share examples of hurtful words thrown our direction.
If someone calls me useless, lazy or stupid, those words mean nothing and cannot be harmful unless I believe them.
My beliefs are what give them weight and power. The words of others, in reality, are like lighter fluid. People can douse you with them, but the fluid alone is useless without a match. And we each hold the match and have the power to ignite those words into flames.
Could it be that we are doing this to ourselves? That we have the power to change the expectations of society inside each of us? Can we just ignore the rules and expectations? I believe we can! We all hold the match to which fires we want to light. And while there may be many good things we choose to ignite and let burn in our lives, there may be many other fires we choose not to start.
Right about now you may be thinking that I am contradicting myself. That by ignoring some fires, we are actually just joining the side of those who choose to snub society by throwing its own rules in its face. Am I not then making choices to prove that society cannot control me?
How do you find the middle ground? This comes from making sure your decisions are lead by the need to neither please nor prove a point, but rather to simply be yourself. You must set your morale boundaries for yourself. Then and only then can you take what comes your way and choose what to light up and what fires to kill before they even start. Take what society sends your way and then filter it through your moral guidelines that you have set for yourself. Those things that fit into your beliefs you may then choose to give power to and support. Those which you have decided against simply evaporate like lighter fluid that was never lit.
The key difference is that you are no longer giving power to anyone else over what you will or will not accept. Your decisions are no longer to fit in. Nor are they to prove a point. Your decisions are simply a matter of choice. A choice between what fits into your beliefs and what you want to stand for, and what does not.
If you have not set these rules and boundaries for yourself, then you are simply being dictated to. You are just another sheep being herded through the field towards a pen you may not want to end up in. You are making decisions based on how it will reflect in the world rather than how you want to reflect light into the world. As long as you are making decisions to prove a point or to fit right in, then you are truly the reason why society is the way it is.
Thank you for doing everything that you can with me to create the world that we all want to live in. We each have so much more power than we often realize. Let your voice be heard through the choices you make and reflect a positive light out into our local and global communities!