“Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
The culture that we grow up in can have a huge impact on us as to how we view the world. If we’re lucky, we have parents, teachers, and friends that teach us how to listen to our own voice and know what we feel, and what is right for us. Many of us though aren’t taught to be self-reliant and self-confident. We’re taught to please our parents, please our teacher, please our church leaders. Paying attention to what we feel and what we know is right for us is highly discouraged. We rely on the opinions of others to know what we should be doing. We look to see what kinds of relationships we should have. If and when we should get married. What kinds of jobs we should take. What kinds of shows to watch on Netflix.
The thing is, society doesn’t want you to stop and think for yourself. People who take the time to truly know themselves, are no longer easy to control. They are not easily manipulated. They are often poor consumers because they know what they want and don’t waste time or money on things they don’t.
When I’m working through what I want in my life, I sometimes find myself looking for the right answer outside of myself because I don’t think that my own opinion is worth anything. I don’t trust that I’m smart enough to figure it out on my own, or that I have the right to decide what I want. Sometimes it’s scary to think for myself and do what is right for me, rather than what I think others think is the right thing.
To listen to yourself, and to recognize your own wisdom is a scary thing. It means that you are responsible for the results you get, including your failures. But it also means that you are blazing your own path, rather than parroting what someone else does. You are claiming your life as your own.
Following your own path is hard. When you decide what you really want to go after, it’s scary to think that you might not get it. Often you may choose someone else’s dream because if you fail, then it’s not that big of a deal.
Learning to listen to and trust yourself, and to think critically is a very important part of living a good life. It means that you learn to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks is good for you. It means that you act on the things that we have control over. You trust that if you do your best, are honest with yourself you’ll learn to make good choices. You will also learn and grow. You will also make mistakes and fail. But in doing so, you will be free because you will be living the life of your choosing, not someone else’s.