Well, it may be the devil, and it may be the Lord, but you’re going to have to serve somebody. – Bob Dylan from Gotta Serve Somebody
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. – Bob Marley from Redemption Song
The stages by which one mutates or pupates from one identity to another are not always evident while they are being undergone. – Christopher Hitchens from Hitch-22
Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn, Suicide remarks are torn, From the fool’s gold mouthpiece, The hollow horn plays wasted words, Proves to warn that he not busy being born, Is busy dying – Bob Dylan from It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Conquer yourself, and the world lies at your feet. – St. Augustine
One of the most challenging ideas you will have to grapple with is that you are the only person alive with the power to liberate you. Because you are the one who has jailed some part of you, the part of you that you are afraid of becoming, you are the one who must unlock the cell in which you have enclosed yourself and lead yourself out into the light from which you have so carefully hidden that part of you, the part you afraid of, and the part the world needs.
At some point, you must recognize that no one is coming to rescue you and that you are going to have save yourself. A finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. The finger can point you at the moon, but like a child, if you look at the finger, you’ll miss the moon.
The system is rigged. What’s the point of the system if not to protect itself and its interest? One who believes that their success and happiness depends on beating the system will never have either.
The very belief that a system that doesn’t know you or give one whit about you is stopping you from becoming who you want to be, from doing what you want to do, from having what you want to have, or making whatever contribution you are here to make is a prison in which you can lose years, or decades, or the entirety of your single life.
A system that isn’t even aware of you cannot deter you. Only when you wake up to the fact that a system that doesn’t know you exist and isn’t the least bit concerned about you, you recognize it is not doing anything to prevent you from transforming.
Were you to seek liberation, you would need only remove the only obstacle between you and what you profess to want. (I write what “you profess to want” because I am incredulous. If you genuinely want something, you never rest until you possess it. When you do nothing or blame external factors, you prove you prefer comfort and excuses to your goals and ambitions and desires).
You are the only thing standing between you and what you want. Of all the obstacles you need to conquer, you will find that overcoming yourself is the most difficult—and also the most critical.
“For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.” – Plato
For anything to change you for you, that change first needs to occur in your mind. You should hold your beliefs very lightly. Because most of your beliefs are not your own but were instead installed by others, you must examine them, viewing their value against other ideas that might better serve you in freeing yourself from the constraints in which your current beliefs keep you locked up. These beliefs make up the structure in which you hold yourself captive.
You can tear down that scaffolding and construct something that will better sustain the person who comes after the person you are now.
You are compliant only because the many forces that have ruled so much of your life, The Drift, is so powerful it pulls you in the very same direction it drags everyone who is unwilling to choose a set of beliefs and principles that underlie the actions that would take them in another direction. Replacing the disempowering beliefs that hold you back is the first step to your liberation.
The Drift isn’t neutral. It’s not benevolent. It isn’t looking out for your best interest. It’s looking out for the Drift. Because you are not aware of the Drift, you don’t even recognize it. If you do recognize it, the Drift will have already infected you with the idea that it’s too late to do something about it.
No matter what it is that you want for yourself, you are the only one preventing you from achieving it. While you may be surrounded by people who will tell you that you can’t have what you want, none of them will lift a finger to stop you from acting on your goals and dreams. The naysayers only offer discouragement; they are too apathetic to work against you actively.
This thought experiment can be a bit brutal about ensuring you realize that you are the only one standing in your way. First, make a list of the actual people who are determined to thwart your efforts to liberate yourself and become who you are. Second, write down precisely what they can and will do to prevent you from freeing yourself. Third, ask yourself if you could still do what you want to do despite their objections or concerns or barriers they put in your way.
If you had a difficult time making a list of the actual people who prevent you from becoming the person you are “mutating or pupating” into, it’s because there are few, if any. You could not have an easy time making a list of what they might do to stop you from becoming. Acknowledging that you can do what you want to do allows you to recognize your power, your agency, your ability to decide for yourself what your future is going to look like.
There is no reason to focus on the things you cannot control. Where you have no real power and no influence, the only reasonable choice is to direct your attention to the things that are within your control. By giving your time and focus to what is in your control, you move towards what you want—and away from what you don’t want.
While we celebrate the independence of our country here in the United States, it’s worth recognizing that our real liberation comes from waking up, growing up, cleaning up, and showing up. If you have not done this work, you might add “speeding up” to that list.
Celebrate your independence if you have it. If not, celebrate your chance to liberate yourself.
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Filed under: Mindset