Do we condition ourselves?

There is this Zen story about a lion who was brought up by sheep. This lion actually thought it was a sheep, until an older lion took him to a pond and showed him his own reflection.

Do many of us have an image of ourselves that comes from the opinions of others? Have we lost a self image that comes from our own direct experience? Do we tend to condition our self image as negative because it does not fit to a model? Have we replaced our individuality with a personality imposed from the outside?

Are we unconscious of our own true identity? Maybe it’s about time to break out of whatever others have conditioned us to believe about ourselves. It’s not only because each individual has a right to live the life they were meant to live and learn from, but also because each individual has been granted with the right to live. Out of millions of sperm only one reaches an egg, and many conceived eggs don’t reach a full term pregnancy. Babies die from sudden infant death syndrome. I’m not trying to be dramatic, just bringing awareness about how successful each individual alive is to make it this far. And that, by itself is an achievement.

However, so many don’t believe in themselves. Our insecurities grow daily. Our personalities are conditioned to whatever is imposed by the herd. The latest smart phone, the latest fashion trend, followers on the social media, a “successful” occupation, the latest app, the latest gadget. If we are females, then we got to act and dress like prostitutes in order to feel “beautiful”. If we are males, we got to be wealthy and be able to have all that money can buy. And if we don’t have a defined sexuality, then we have to act correspondingly to a someone else’s “pattern”. I apologize (and also forgive myself) for this “hater” generalization, but I have to speak out my thoughts sometimes in order to release myself from their poison.

I’m being a bit polemic and bitter, and I don’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. But truth is that life by itself is a successful endeavor and it should be respected. Each individual should be able to love themselves. We are not perfect because we are human, but it’s very different to constantly make an effort to improve than to constantly hating and rejecting oneself. So many people are disappointed about their life and their looks because it doesn’t fit the pattern. And there are so many in such pain and depression that take their lives.

Osho says “unless you drop your personality you will not be able to find your individuality. Individuality is given by existence; personality is imposed by the society. Society cannot tolerate individuality, because individuality will not follow like a sheep. Individuality has the quality of the lion; and the lion moves alone. The sheep are always in the crowd, hoping that being in the crowd will feel cozy. Being in the crowd one feels more protected, secure.”

It feels as if we are loosing our freedom and our birthright to be ourselves. It feels as if programming and coding done to computers and technology is getting to our brains as well. But every time I take a deep breath, when I walk in nature, when I practice something I enjoy and step out from the masses; I do feel like being alive and being myself is real and rewarding. It’s been years that I stepped out from the box, and yet I still feel the pain from when I tried so hard to belong. We all belong, we belong to this earth, we belong to the human specie and we belong to ourselves.

Life is about being happy, feeling complete and confident. It’s about overcoming obstacles. About understanding that difficult times are part of living. And most importantly, that sugar coating everything is fake. Even pain is worth living and feeling sometimes if we know that we can breath it through and come out of it. One breath at a time. Because as I used to say to my students, breath is the best medicine of all… and it’s also free.

So I invite whoever reads this to look deep inside and send love and encouragement. Answer yourself the questions asked above and hopefully, start shifting your points of view and maybe stop being so conditioned. And if you’re not conditioned, then keep the good work and help others to set themselves free.

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