You will not be able to develop yourself, in a healthy way, as long as you are solely preoccupied with what or how you think other people think about you.
And trust me, you do worry, a lot.
The way in which you do this is by living a normal life, simply. A normal person, wants normal things. Like a good job, money, you know, success, in our classical modern sense. It could be called enlightened hedonism. But the thing is, that all of these things that you’re supposed to want and desire, fall into “the externalities” section of life.
It’s totally fine to want them, it is natural. But it can also be harmful to just focus on them, for yourself, and for society at large.
“To be satiated with the “necessities” [of external success] is no doubt an inestimable source of happiness, yet the inner man continues to raise his claim, and this can be satisfied by no outward possessions. And the less this voice is heard in the chase after the brilliant things of this world, the more the inner man becomes a source of inexplicable misfortune and uncomprehended unhappiness in the midst of living conditions whose outcome was expected to be entirely different. The externalization of life turns to incurable suffering, because no one can understand why he should suffer from himself. . . That is the sickness of Western man. . .”
Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion
Because no one can understand why he should suffer from himself.
It’s hard to comprehend how you can have everything you’d wish for, and still be unhappy. This unhappiness is a cry for inner self development, and it needs to be addressed if what you’re looking for is to have a complete and integrated self.
Why is it that you should take heed in this inner search? Away from the crowds?
The first reason, and of paramount importance, is because you cannot be free while at the same time living obsessively concerned with the group’s perception about you (even though nobody usually cares).
When I talk about inner development, I talk about ways of being. Things like courage, wisdom, or reflection. Inner development in the sense of judging and weighing the ways there are as to how to live your life. If you have never questioned them, how will you know if one is better than the other?
“If you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity, you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge — a new fact to be considered in studying the character of humanity. Your attitude towards it will be that of the mineralogist who stumbles upon a very characteristic specimen of a mineral.”
Arthur Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims
That’s the idea, to become like a mineralogist. An explorer of the psyche. A scientist of the ways there exist to live your life. An examiner of sentiments and reactions and proactivity. Guided by your inner want of a better self, and, hear me out here, not only about yourself, but about humanity at large.
You cannot become this ‘explorer of the soul’ as long as you’re still strapped and saddled with the social agenda. Unstrapping yourself is difficult, but worth it.
“When someone said to Diogenes, ‘Most people laugh at you’, he replied, ‘And doubtless donkeys laugh at them; but just as they pay no heed to the donkeys, I pay none to them.’”
Diogenes the Cynic, Sayings and Anecdotes
Ultimately, this is the level of unconcernedness you want to achieve.
The Disease To Please
Wishing to please everybody is a disease.
Have you ever opened YouTube on a computer that is not yours, and so YouTube shows you the “most popular” stuff in your country?
I’m from Mexico and, Jesus Christ all mighty, the country’s YT feed is horrible, and plain idiotic. It gives you an idea as to why you’re country isn’t as great as it could be. I even feel bad writing this, but man, the general interest is plain stupid, depthless.
The desire to belong is natural, but it being natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good as well.
When we’re in a group, we have a strong tendency to conform to the norms of that group. This may be due to the fact that, in many ways, groups protect us. In a presociety world, we needed groups — or tribes — in order to protect against predators and acquire enough resources. In modern times, groups protect us from loneliness and/or purposelessness. By conforming, we demonstrate our willingness to be a part of the group, thus increasing the likelihood the group will protect us.
Conformity can be a positive force if the group supports positive behaviors. But our conformity impulse is so strong that it can overwhelm our better judgment. One famous study put participants in a group and asked each member of the group to decide which of three lines was the same length as a fourth line. The answer was obvious, but only one participant was a real test subject. Everyone else had been instructed to choose the wrong answer. Faced with either going against the group or conforming, about 75% of test subjects agreed with the wrong answer at least once during the course of the study. — Walden University
See what I mean now? What happens when negative views and stupid ideas fester around you? And you, because of your need to belong, just play along?
First, you’re not really free to live your life on your own terms, and second, you’re restricting your capacity to act as a force of good and rationality.
This can also be flat out dangerous because toxic behavior can pass from being an irregularity among the group or the country, and become something normal.
Numerous studies have found that we often decide how to act based on how those around us are acting. To put it another way, if the group says a behavior is okay, we are likely to believe it is, indeed, okay. This is called normalization, and it goes deeper than mere conformity. With conformity, we follow a group’s norms for the sake of getting along. When a specific behavior is normalized in us, we believe it to be normal and proper, which bonds us strongly to groups that believe the same. Depending on what’s being normalized, normalization can either be positive (eating healthy is normal) or negative (using drugs is normal). — Walden University)
According to the Cambridge dictionary:
the act of freeing a person from another person’s control
In this case, it’s on you. Freedom can only be achieved internally. That’s great news! It is your job and no one else’s to become a free man or woman.
Trust me, freedom is the way to go, for yourself and for others. Practice it.
What do you mean by this? Well, ask yourself about freedom in this time of ours; doesn’t it consist simply in the power to live as we wish? Absolutely. Tell me then, you people, do you wish to live in error? We do not. That’s right; no one is free who is in error. Do you wish to live in fear and sorrow and disturbance? Certainly not. So, no one who is fearful or sorrowful or disturbed is free, but the person who is relieved of sorrows and fears and disturbances is relieved of enslavement by the very same process.
How to be free, Epictetus
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