As strange as it sounds, lot of people don’t really want to be free. That’s because the brain is good at what it’s already done and it’ll take the path of least resistance it if can. It will go toward whatever feels common. That’s what our brain got good at, so that’s the terrain it’ll seek. After that the only question regards self-perception, which will either tip toward the confident and deserving, or the insecure and undeserving.
What this means is, if you’re a confident person but your brain got good at being yelled at by an angry Dad, then you will have hated being treated that way; meaning you will pay significant prices in your life in your effort to only date people who never yell. But if you got good at being yelled at and you felt like you deserved to be yelled at, then your brain will literally be more comfortable with a spouse who yells and makes you feel smaller. Strange eh?
The first person is concerned when they’re yelled at. The second gets uncomfortable if they’re not yelled at. You’ve seen this. We all have friends who consistently choose people who treat them poorly. They just don’t know they’re free. They think they deserve to be where they are, rather than they chose to be where they are.
To be truly free you must abandon the idea that your past must dictate your future. Just because your brain processed yelling so much that it became your “normal,” doesn’t mean you need yelling. It’s true that your ego will be so used to it, that for a while there will be an echo of desire for consistency. For a while, not being yelled at will feel a little uncomfortable.
This discrepancy will cause you to notice that you’re not-doing something. But that discomfort is just the feeling of you moving out of your comfort zone. But that’s a wonderful thing if your comfort zone includes allowing yourself to experience poor treatment by others.
I’ve used the example before: pig farmers don’t smell pigs. They’re so used to it—it’s so normal in their lives—that it’s not even there. The same goes for being treated poorly by others. If it happened a lot when you were young, you’ll think that’s normal. You’ll think that’s what you deserve. But no one deserves anything. Things just are, and you either choose to be near them or you choose to not be near them.
So if you want to live near pigs—or people that treat you poorly—then go ahead. That’s how freedom works and the people around you should respect your choices just as they want you to respect theirs. Just don’t blame the pigs for the smell they always have. And don’t blame people for being who they are. Just decide whether or not being near their smell is actually worth it to you.
What you’re used to is not what you are. If you have a boss that constantly belittles you, then your problem isn’t your boss (that’s his problem). Your problem is that some collection of experiences convinced you to have such a low view of yourself that you feel you either deserve poor treatment, or they convinced you that you’re so weak that you need someone else to come and rescue you from it. Neither of these things are true.
What you’re used to is not what is inevitable in your life. What’s inevitable is that you will live out your choices. And you will choose circumstances that align with who you believe you are. So believe you are strong, and beautiful, and worthwhile. Accept those facts as absolute, and then decide where and how you want to live. Because you don’t want to be choosing to live with pigs just because you’re used to a life that stinks.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.