August 3, 2017

Conforming to a Pattern – Yay or Nay?

The society and its norms shape our attitudes, beliefs and even lives to some extent. While some individuals manage to find a balance between sociocultural expectations and their individual preferences, others either exhibit an extreme level of conformism or refuse to accept the standardised and expected norms altogether. Nonetheless, human desire to be accepted and acknowledged often leaves some individuals with a lot of pressure to fit into the social, cultural and civilizational patterns, which inevitably affects their lives.

Expected and established patterns

Whether you live in a collectivist environment where the well-being of a group is the primary goal or in a more individualist-oriented society where your personal needs are put above everything else, there are always certain expectations and patterns that have been formed over the course of history. These patterns have been repeated over and over again until they’ve become the established ways of living in a certain society. You might be expected to be a mother or father, become a doctor because everyone else in your family is, graduate with flying colours or get married at a certain age. Perhaps someone else has planned your whole life for you, leading you to believe that this is exactly how everything should unfold. On the other hand, you might have built certain patterns and expectations for yourself, comparing yourself to others and considering what they think of you. Either way, there are always some factors and expectations shaping our lives consciously or subconsciously while we desperately try to fit in, but somehow keep failing.

Inability to fit in

While some see the rejection of the established patterns as a form of reb ellion, others consider them to be the desired lifestyle. It’s undeniable that both attitudes in their extreme can have negative effects on a person’s life. The former can lead to alienation and detachment from society, while the latter can cause dissatisfaction with your own life.
Individuals who build their lives according to someone else’s expectations and always try to see themselves the way others see them, often experience constant dissatisfaction with their own achievements, lifestyles and themselves as persons, which may lead to depression and anxiety. What they fail to realise is that “the truth is that the way other people see us isn’t about us — it’s about them and their own struggles, insecurities, and limitations. You don’t have to allow their judgment to become your truth”, as Daniell Koepke once said.

Breaking out of patterns

Whether you have your own negative patterns you keep repeating or you can’t fit into the ones considered to be “right”, you should stop tailoring your life according to a certain mould. Instead, you should make certain changes and start living a life that fits you as a person. In addition, if someone close to you is going through this situation, take the advice from Sue Fitzmaurice and: “don’t tell someone to get over it. Help them get through it.” Breaking out from the patterns that govern your life requires time and effort, but once you do, you’ll be much happier and satisfied with yourself because you’ll be living the life perfect for you. Start by making small and positive changes, such as switching to a healthy diet, working out, taking up a new hobby, etc. Don’t let yourself get dragged into the vicious circle of negative thinking, but try to stay positive as much as possible. Furthermore, you should stop comparing yourself to others and don’t let anyone tell you how you should live your life. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should alienate yourself from your friends and family.
On the contrary, seek advice and help from the people you trust. If you feel that you cannot cope on your own, you should consider opting for counselling services during which you can discover yourself and your needs, face your problems, strengthen your self-esteem and create a balance between your body and mind. And, no matter how difficult the entire process might be, remember the words of Dalai Lama: “there are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly, live”.

Whether you’re aware of the patterns you live by or you’ve subconsciously adopted them, you shouldn’t let them dictate your life. Once you break out of them, you’ll be free to live your life not burdened by someone else’s expectations.

*** This is a guest post and written by Isabel William, the blogger behind Body and Mind Balance Blog, and***

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