In her book, The house by the sea, Santa Montefiore writes the following:
"I start from a belief in our ability to choose our destinies. We come down here to experience life and learn to be compassionate, loving human beings. During our lifetime we have many choices which affect those around us as well as our own futures. ‘Imagine a pebble dropped into a pond. You may think that the pebble simply sinks to the bottom, but you are wrong. The pebble causes ripples that run to the edge, where they nudge a leaf onto the bank. A bumble bee is drowning in the water, but now he is able to climb onto the leaf and save himself. The bumble bee flies off and lands on the arm of a child, who watches in wonder and thus develops a love of nature. The child’s parents are fighting, but the mother sees the bee and panics that her child will be stung. Both parents rush to help the child and forget their argument, united in their love for their child. The bee flies off and……..”
The point is: nothing we do is in isolation. Our choices are important. From the outside, it often looks like people do not care about others and they appear to be selfish. However, taking a closer look, you will see that everyone is affected by what other people think and do. Sometimes our choices are influenced by the choices that others make – for instance: people swear and use foul language when they are with certain of their friends because they do not want their friends to judge them.
And as a result of social media and our connected state, we cannot hide some of our decisions and behaviour from our circle of friends. There will always be one who is filming your drunken state, who is recording your foul language or who will share the inappropriate picture! To a certain degree it helps them feel better (because they can say “well, look at so-and-so misbehaving”) but it is also linked to their own need for “belongingness”.
Belongingness is in our genes – even in the pre-modern age, humans who didn’t belong to a group didn't survive. But we have to be careful when we select the group we want to belong to! Being part of a group gives you a false sense of power and status.
The main reason we want to belong is that we feel uncertain – our own set of rules seems inadequate and therefore we blindly adopt any belief system we run into. Most people change their own beliefs to fit in!
We should have a personal mission. The late Stephen Covey, author of the classic 7 Habits of highly effective people, explained it as follows: A mission statement is not something you write overnight but fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the sold expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life”. This means that we do not measure our life by other people’s standards, but by our own mission!
When we have a clear mission, values and vision for our lives, we understand how our choices shape our destiny. When you know where you want to go (vision) and have a roadmap that brings you there (values), you are less susceptible to what others think and do!
Who cares if people don’t like how you raise your children, don’t approve your choice of school for your child or want to do things a certain way “because that is how we have always done it”? Just because we don’t want to disappoint our parents, elders and inner circle we fall into the trap of conforming to the group norms.
Please stop! You are the only person you don’t want to disappoint. Why don’t you focus on the belongingness you have with your family, parents, partner, and children? Focus on what is truly important and what is busy shaping our futures – without us even being aware of it!
Make careful choices so that you will not regret this one day. Be a good parent. Be a good child. Be a good friend. And understand that everything you do and say will have an impact on and in your future!