By Coach Razan Kilani, ICF-Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach
Artificial additives and hormones in foods and drinks, BPA in plastic-ware and famous brand clothes and shoes, aggressive video games and costumes, highly sexualized and violent media content, deadly radiation from electrical machines and devices we use on daily basis, toxic gases from detergents and some building elements in our home environment, air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, and the list goes on. This may be the kind of culture we live in today. Yet, the sad truth is; just like there are external toxins that endanger our bodies, there are also toxic non-natural meanings and standards that have led us to gradually turn against our own true selves, and poison our – as well as our loved ones’- emotions and souls day by day. We constantly see ourselves (or them) as inadequate or inferior in one way or another.
Material culture has said it all: “You are what you eat, drink, do, and wear; who you are friends with; and where you live”. What and how much you consume defines your value. Therefore, in a materialistic society, the richer, more attractive and connected you are; the more successful, influential and lucky you are considered to be. Family, community, school, work, and the media are all fields that constantly tell us what is right and what is wrong, what is appropriate and what is not. This is how we started seeing that the majority of the people around the world strive daily to live up to such standards, and use this to demand respect and appreciation, in order for them not to be counted out of society.
In other words, we have learned from a young age that standards of what is acceptable and what is not, comes from outside, not inside. Therefore, while we are pleasing others externally, we have then been ignoring our own internal wants and needs, and thus have lost our true selves in pursuit of the acknowledgment of the people around us. Through our own high-tech devices (smart phones, iPads, computers, TVs, etc.), we heavily consume the material the media offers us. Yet, this material constantly bombards us with an imposed sense of ‘reality’. Doing so, the media usually trends a ‘fear-based’ method when it comes to instructing us about what is right and wrong, so we would listen and follow better. Certainly, this has proven to be more profitable financially for the business that fuels the media we consume, but may not necessarily be useful to our own true sake.
Marketing plays a major role in our consistent ‘dissatisfaction’ with what we have, and our dreamlike state of always wanting to be and act like someone else. As the documentary, The Story of Stuff, asks: “What is the point of an ad except to make us unhappy with what we have.”
We have experts telling us all we need to know about the ‘right’ way to eat, drink, think, walk, and wear, yet we still feel clueless! This culture has definitely polished our Egos, but has definitely eroded our thinking from its own intellect and wisdom. We are beautifully dressed bodies living in immaculately designed homes, but our souls are not fulfilled. Unfortunately, that’s the legacy we are handing down to our kids, and the standards by which we have been judging them and dictating them to embody.
The main habit we have practiced repeatedly, as a result of the media exposure, is to listen to others’ opinions of how well we are doing. Yet, we barely stop to listen to what our souls have to say.
We can become our own solution-finder, if only we perfect the habit of looking “within” with true justice, and absolute humility. Our big never-satiated egos have been blown out of proportion, due to our exposure to this toxic media culture. Perfecting the habits that augment the ego, and ignores the soul, we have lost a great part of our truths. We can barely think for ourselves anymore, to face the real truth behind the consequences of our actions.
We have, therefore, gradually abandoned our much-needed awareness around our innermost needs, actual wants, and mission to align ourselves with our inner-voice and true calling. We have each been endowed with specific skills, knowledge and capabilities that best equip us to fulfill our individually assigned life purpose. Yet, instead of listening within, we have been constantly listening to those outside setting the standards for us to be like someone, achieve what someone else has done, and become, hence, someone other than our true selves.
Some of my clients have told me: “Sometimes people fear to get to know their true selves. They may not like what they may find out about themselves that is so dysfunctional!” With experience, I have realized that this was true. People ‘were’ detached from their inner selves, to a point where they did not know who they ‘truly’ were anymore. What kind of culture do we live in nowadays, whereby we are not given the green light to ‘look’ and ‘be’ the way we are?
What is so wrong about who we are that we constantly have to follow other externally imposed models?
Self-detachment – coupled with the consistent need to cater to externally imposed standards and norms – have made it possible for money-driven companies to create Peer-Pressure syndrome, whereby one celebrity does something, the people worldwide do the same, and worse forcing their kids into this copy-cat culture.
Never before in history have humans been ‘watchers’ instead of ‘doers’. Things and people look great on the outside, yet contain extremely toxic and self-destructive feelings and thoughts on the inside.
Have humans stopped living meaningfully?
People have developed a false conviction that they have owned life, only to discover later that they have deluded themselves into living up to a fake and imposed image, status, or position to which they feel entitled, i.e. living by their egos only.
Dr. Wayne Dyer says in his movie, The Shift: “One of the things that happen when you move away from ego, you move from a sense of entitlement, to a sense of humility. You realize you are entitled to nothing. That is just the ego speaking.” He adds that the ego is your false self. When you’re defending it, you are defending an illusion. “Your authentic self is way beyond this ego”.
Know Yourself Says Socrates
Self-loathing, self-guilt, low self-esteem and self-confidence, self-criticism are common diseases of the heart people suffer from these days. If a person acknowledges and embraces his own true self, he can experience the bright light of confidence shining from inside out. Getting to ‘know your real self’, what it wants and feels is the ultimate destination of fulfillment and authentic happiness, which consequently results in sky-rocketing levels of self-confidence, self-trust, self-appreciation, self-acceptance and self-approval. This also gets reflected on the outside, whereby you too start trusting and accepting others for ‘who’ they truly are, as opposed to judging them by the same standards that internally tortured you in the past. During the day, most of us see some matters as ‘big deal’, then by the end of the day, we notice they were not significant. “What was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie” (Dr. Wayne Dyer, The Shift)
At the end of the day, the ‘choice’ is yours over the way you truly feel, think and act. The people who have installed concepts and beliefs in you are not always with you, but you are with yourself the entire time. So listen to what you think, want and feel. Be brave and embrace your own truth and who you are, and work out your life from there. While doing so, be gentle to those outside of you, as they too suffer from their own internal battles. Making wise decisions that align with who you are, leads to self-empowerment. We do matter after all. Furthermore, our needs are not dictated by the media and society, but rather through what we deeply feel and yearn for. So how about you adopt a new strategy from now on? Listen to yourself, how you feel and what you truly think of things. Soon, you will realize a gradual yet firm contrast between your old ways of living, and the new You living the life that makes you really happy.