These days, there are an infinite amount of people, situations, and experiences around us that undoubtedly influence who we are as a person. In our early lives, our parents and other caregivers give us guidance, regimens, scoldings, and other influences that are meant to shape us for the future caring for ourselves, as we grow older and more capable.
Oftentimes, we find ourselves susceptible to not just listening to (and following) basic care guidance, but also how we are to conduct ourselves in life, what we “should” be doing professionally, how/who we “should” date/marry, and even how we “should” look. When this happens – especially in adulthood – we oftentimes fall pre-conditioned to taking on second-hand experiences.
Second-hand experiences mean following someone else’s script, or living an old life story. It means having little control over present-day experiences and who you truly are. Deepak tells us that when we do something someone else tells us to do; when we live up to someone else’s low expectations of us; or we do things that are not true to ourselves; we’re not the author of our own experiences.
Granted, when someone asks you to take out the trash, that’s not a “no”. Alternatively, when someone tells you, you should dress or act a certain way, that can be a “no” (depending upon the situation, culture, etc.). How to tell the difference is pretty simple. When you feel unsettled, uncomfortable, overly frustrated and pressured; each time something is asked of you that goes against who you are, it’s a second-hand experience.
In the first few meditations of this series, I talked about not coveting someone else’s life, as it can cause major disruption to your own path, including negative thoughts and emotions that can impair judgment and happiness. Now add to it “parroting” someone else’s personality, or listening to someone else tell you how to behave. You are no longer living your own life.
When this happens, all sense of self is lost and the longer this goes on for, the more work you have to do at figuring out WHO you truly ARE.
I, by no means, am telling you to throw all caution to the wind, act out, and choose to be a rebel (we all need structure in our lives). Instead, I’m telling you to take what falls in your comfort zone and the structure that has been put in place, and creatively find a way to marry the two. I know people who are executives at large firms, who on weekends and vacations are fully “engaged” in their activities of their choosing. They go to Burning Man, expose their tattoos and piercings, wear mohawks, party hard, date who they want to date, live where they want to live … and then they go back to work, continuing to be incredibly successful. They are living THEIR OWN lives the way they choose to. They write their own story and usually, they’re pretty awesome ones at that!
Even if you are in the worst of ruts, it’s possible to get out of it and onto your own path, at any time, at any age. The first step is to write down what you want your story to be: Is it narratives that have you traveling into far off lands? Is it becoming a master chef or professional photographer? Is it writing that novel you have been meaning to get to, while spending the rest of the time, on the hunt, for inspiration? The second step is writing down the details of how you want to get there. It could be a short trip somewhere new, a cooking class, a weekend away to gather your thoughts. Regardless of life choice, each step is a step in the write direction and before you know it, you’ve written the most epic (and unique) story about your life that no one else can write!