Excerpt from the international bestselling book, You Were Not Born To Suffer, by Blake D. Bauer.
It’s helpful to know that we are all a bit crazy, in the sense that once we’re honest with ourselves we cannot deny the various voices in our head or the countless thoughts that circulate in our mind. I have come to perceive mental and emotional health in terms of practical functional sanity. In other words: can we take responsibility for our lives in a way that we do not harm ourselves, other people or the Earth while we do our best each day to be well, happy and kind?
In my experience, which I am sure is similar to your own, there is no such thing as ‘normal’. Although it is so common to think ‘he or she is normal but I am not’ or ‘their family is normal’ or ‘why can’t I just be normal?’ deep down we all know real life is stranger than fiction. Maybe the reason we can never get to ‘normal’ is because it does not exist. It’s like trying to find a city on a map you’re holding, only this city never existed and the person who drew the map did not know what they were talking about. Being normal is mainly about being socially accepted, or, in other words, avoiding the judgement of other people. Of course no one wants to be criticized, but at some stage we have to make a choice between rejecting ourselves in exchange for the approval of others and taking the risk of being honest about our thoughts and feelings, regardless of the consequences.
Eventually you will realize that the pain of rejecting yourself is far greater than the pain of being rejected or judged by other people. So if being normal or socially accepted means you do not speak and act based on what you genuinely think and feel, you will always remain unhappy. This means we’re faced with the following questions. Do you want to be happy or socially accepted? Do you want to find peace and fulfillment or would you rather just fit in? Do you want to enjoy your life, work, physical body and relationships, or would you prefer to be controlled by the opinions, judgements and criticism of others?
One lesson that helped me tremendously in my quest for happiness, and also strengthened my ability simply to be myself over and above seeking love, approval and acceptance from other people, was understanding the fact that I am not just my thoughts or the voices in my head. Through meditation, self-reflection and healing internalized emotions from the past, I came to know and feel that who I am is far greater than my thinking mind and the conversations I regularly have with myself. Furthermore, I found that most of my confused or contradictory thinking was simply the result of repressed emotions bubbling up as thought. Thinking then became an addiction as well as a means to escape feeling.
When I first realized that I was not happy, I was completely identified with all my thoughts, which were most often connected to feelings of fear, anxiety and insecurity. I believed the dialogue in my mind was ‘me’ or who I was, because I never learned that who I truly am is more accurately the awareness, consciousness, intelligence and energy behind my thoughts, which surrounds all my thoughts and purposefully gives rise to these thoughts for my own growth, healing and eventual enjoyment of life. Before I realized this, I had no space in my mind or my heart because my body had become cluttered with internalized emotions from the past as well as limiting beliefs I’d inherited from my parents, schooling and society. I now know that without space there can be no happiness, so of course I was unhappy when I was completely attached to my thoughts. Like you, I had learned to give my power, happiness and sense of self over to my thoughts, thereby allowing myself to become the victim of the conversations in my head, which were most often completely out of control, stress causing and very negative. Thankfully, there is a path to freedom. There is a form of functional sanity that is grounded in a healthy understanding and acceptance of your thoughts.