'You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realise how seldom they do'
David Foster Wallace
If I could give my 18 year old self 3 pieces of advice in life it would be:
There are no should's in life.
To be true to yourself, no matter what
Don't compare yourself against others, because you can never be certain what you are comparing yourself against.
This isn't so easy to do when you're younger because there is so much noise in society that it's easy to drown out your own voice.
As you get older you can become stuck in your ways having skied down the same path in your mind for so many years, convincing yourself that the beliefs you hold about yourself are truth, and not being open to another way of being.
Sometimes you need to strip away what you have learnt, the same as a snake sheds it's layers because it doesn't fit anymore, or because it's old and worn out.
Snakes outgrown their skin.
How comfortable are you in your own skin in the first place?
Haven't you outgrown those limited ideas you have of yourself?
Everyone around you puts the mask on and shows you only the good bits that they want the world to see.
Because you have only access to your own mind, you can begin to feel that everyone else has it all worked out - while you don't.
It's one big illusion, a world of smoke and mirrors.
Are you going to live in that world all your life? Or are you going to wake up now?
To truly compare to yourself to another person you would need to be in their pocket 24/7 for a long period of time, so you can see their life warts and all. Only then could you make a proper judgement.
However, that's still irrelevant.
You can only be yourself at the end of the day - so you may as well embrace it, take ownership of it, and give it the best shot you can.
It's great to have heroes that inspire you in life. But you can never copy those people. If you asked them to honestly explain how they have got to were they are, they couldn't really tell you. It's always a mystery made up of a mixture of many things that we like to turn into a neat little story.
Take inspiration from them but that's all you can do; the greatest inspiration though always comes from within, through making your own body-mind come alive.
The kind of inspiration that stems from that place will serve you well until the end of your days and will burn deeply inside you, but you may need to strip away that which prevents you from living from that space of being/ aware presence on a more constant basis.
Many of the shoulds in life have been conditioned into us from childhood by society
Many of the shoulds is tied to the authoritative figure in our own heads.
Control what you let into your consciousness, like your life depends on it, because in a way it does, because everything you do leaves an imprint on the mind in some small way - the people you hang around with, the music you consume, what books you read, what TV shows you decide to watch. All of it.
Turning inwards to self-reflect takes honesty, curiosity, openness, and times of stillness, which you will never get if you fill your life with endless distractions.
There is nothing wrong with distractions either, as long as you are aware that's what you are doing, because we so easily and readily fool ourselves.
Also it's during times of distractions where your mind will be truly tested.
Tapping into a deeper level of self-awareness is a superpower.
Many of us tend to block and palm away our emotions and concerns, and compartmentalise them away.
We will deal with them on a rainy day which we hope will never come.
But how would you know it was sunny if it didn't rain on your parade now and again?
The storms come and go as well, there will be several of them throughout your life.
Our humanity relies on embracing all our imperfections
We feel all kinds of weather in our bodies - don't resist any of it. Welcome all of it.
Just don't spend your life conjuring up storms unnecessarily.
We are all trying to find our own meaning in a world that is an open book and neutral.
What meaning you place on it, is down to you. and is different for each individual.
I see so many people on social media people acting like their beliefs are true and so many posts with the answers for what is right in life. I'm probably guilty of it now and again myself.
How to become 10% happier...
How to be 1% better every day...
Humans though are not maths equations.
For me these are still attempts at trying to control life - which is is unpredictable in it's nature. Freedom comes from embracing the unpredictability of life and going with it rather than resisting and trying to control everything around you.
You can't say with absolute certainty what is going to happen a day from now, but so many of us try and look way too far ahead in life, or spends a lifetime living in the past.
We are so quick to look for a list of 'how to's in life.
A ten step model may work for changing a tyre of a car, but you mind is far more subtle and nuanced than that.
Everyone is feeling their way around the dark looking for their own torch. Someone may help you find yours, but then it is up to you to turn it on and move in the direction that makes sense to you.
What lights up the way for each individual is different.
Accept what is, whilst doing your thing in changing or improving your situation.
Or are you dependent on only being ok once you have got into the first team, won that award, got that car, married that person, got that wage rise at work. the list goes on...
You may be in for a surprise if you hedge all your bets like that, because humans are generally quite bad at predicting what level of impact a future achievement will have on our lives. Then you may just feel the emptiness descend inside you as you have maxed out your chips.
Who are you beyond your role in life? Have you ever stopped to explore?
Has your life become all about what you are doing, rather than being?
The clue is in the title: Human Being. This isn't saying not to explore life, express yourself and play the game, and go for your goals.
It's all one big game and we have no idea when it will end for each one of us, so we may as well do our best to enjoy it all.
What's stopping you being ok as you are right now whilst playing the game?
What if peace and happiness came when you stopped trying to seek it out directly?
The same goes for resilience, compassion, and all the other labels we have for the things we seek in life.
What if you grew by operating more effortlessly, rather than grinding and working harder?
What if you didn't have to be someone in life? That's a weight off your shoulders right? Maybe that would free you up to be more than you could ever imagine.
Who would have thought..
One piece of advice I would never give my 18 years old self is to regret anything in life.
That is just wasted energy, you can learn from it, but you can never change it.
Hindsight is a waste too, because it couldn't have happened any differently, otherwise it would have done. No point living a life of if only's
How do you know that the other path that you have painted such a glorious picture in your own mind would have turned out better - you just don't know.
You are where you are, because that's where you are.
Start from there.
Look in the mirror, are you living your life, or are you acting someone else's expectations of you? When all is said it is your own judgement that counts, not those around you, just don't let that judgement be blinded by untruths.
Examine yourself, not those around you. It's your face in the mirror, not theirs.
My words are direct, but only because I've been there myself. Sometimes you need a shake in life, but any shake from me comes from a place of love and compassion
Don't believe anyone who says they have all the answers, even those closest to you.
They may have their owns answers, but they are not yours.
Your mind may try and convince you otherwise, if you allow it to.
Don't just believe a word I say, explore for yourself.