It’s an understatement to say life is a complex, strange, and interesting experience.
Life is a blank canvas for our aspirations, a place where almost any potential has merit and everyone must define for themselves how they want to live.
The freedom of the blank canvas, however, can be the proverbial double-edged sword. Freedom, if we let ourselves get overwhelmed by its inherent limitlessness, can paralyze us because of that same possibility.
If we fall into that state of paralysis, it can be all-too-easy to feel disenfranchised, to feel like an outcast if you don’t fit into the mainstream mold. It can be hard to remember that everyone, at some point, feels like they are isolated and misunderstood.
But there are ways to overcome feelings of disenfranchisement. Here’ are just two suggested paths to find your way out of feelings of isolation.
Educate Yourself: Read!
If you’re struggling to connect with the human condition in your immediate environment, taking time to find and consume books on the subject are a good way to find others who have suffered and overcome adversity.
Reading great books can be essential for the sustenance of a healthy individual. This means reading things that simultaneously inspire and challenge you. This means you will need to read beyond books that are simply entertaining. The best lessons come when we’re simultaneously entertained and educated.
I’ll say it again: read books that deal deeply with the human condition, both fiction and nonfiction. There are classic texts that will give insight into historical perspectives, teach you how to connect with others, and inspire you with stories of other people’s struggles and triumphs (again, fictional or otherwise).
Great books will guide you to a fuller self, whether it’s the works of John Toussaint and his writings on the subject of keeping a healthy body image, or Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
You can read ebooks or the old-fashioned paper kind, the format doesn’t really matter. Just read! Set a goal for at least one book a month.
The hero’s journey is a universal concept for humanity. One of the major aspects of the hero’s journey concept is the importance of taking on challenges, meeting with failure and success, and ultimately overcoming obstacles. It’s the overcoming of challenge that brings about change and personal development for the better.
Attempting challenge allows for the growth of self-confidence. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, provided that it’s healthy and allows for training over a period of time. Becoming a better human being largely means working to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and accepting both, and then striving to improve and take action in the world to make it a better place for yourself and others.
But before you head out to take on life in a dynamic way, you must first make yourself comfortable with challenge.
Small Wins are the Way
So, what is your dream? Whatever you want to accomplish, you can’t bite off a huge chunk on the very first bite. If you try to set your goals too big, you’ll wind up psyching yourself out and giving up.
Want to climb Mt. Everest but you’ve never climbed a mountain before? Why not start with a much smaller mountain instead of heading for a mountain that has seen the demise of many people before you? You’ll learn more about yourself and have that valuable training time. Keep upping the challenge slowly, taking time to build up to your ultimate goal.
Starting small also allows you time to meet more like-minded people and build a “tribe” who are striving for the same goal. One of the main reasons people become disenfranchised is because they aren’t connected with the right people and don’t have anyone else to help support them when times get tough.
Again, these are just two ways to get out of your head and your circumstances to ward off disenfranchisement. Explore the world and you’ll find more ways to keep yourself engaged with life!
Previously published on livethehero.com.
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