DAY 7 of my non-Muslim Ramadan fast… well, I’m sticking to it okay and that’s a good thing!
So, I was thinking about how much of our enjoyment of life is spoiled because of a fixation with being loved.
In general, it seems to me, we’re intimidated by the dogma of our own mind, we govern our lives by it. There’s nothing original about that, I know, but it’s the self-directed focus of my fast… freeing the mind of dogma so I can be more like a child… ie, more carefree.
I was thinking about how we’ve been conditioned into believing that it’s imperative to be loved (even though no one seems to be all that certain about what ‘love’ actually is, but the definition of love will have to be a different post).
Not being loved in our culture is considered a disaster. It means we’re worthless, unsexy, and all manner of other undesirable attributes. And, we are conditioned to believe that in order to be loved, we must be lovable, and in order to be lovable we must behave in a prescriptive manner. In other words, we are not deemed to be inherently lovable. We’re not lovable by dint of existing. We’re lovable when we have a personality that’s worthy of love.
So, I come back to what I’ve said a million times before on this blog: love is conditional. Ergo, love must be earned. So that’s what we endeavour to do: earn love – and avoid censure – by behaving according to others’ requirements.
I call these behavioural precepts the ‘party tricks of Civilization’.
We are enslaved by our need to be loved. Or at least ‘admired’… or at least… not hated – that seems good enough for many. So much of our ego’s neurotic shenanigans are about dancing round our fear of not disappointing others because we aren’t who they want – demand, even – us to be (or who we imagine they want us to be). If we can free ourselves from this dependency, wouldn’t we be more carefree? Wouldn’t we enjoy more freedom of self-expression? Aren’t we more likely to be ‘happy’?
An added problem is: we are also educated into believing we have no right to personal freedom. Oh, people say we have that right, but they don’t mean it – they’re empty words. People behave as if it’s our duty to behave in a particular way so as to please them (or at least, not offend them) – ie, freedom of self-expression is… selfish !!! If you’re a child it’s simply not allowed. And selfishness is BAD in our culture. It’s anti-social. And, when it comes to our happiness, no one really cares if we’re happy or not… they only care that we fulfill the function they require of us, whatever that may be… parent, child, friend, boss, partner… the roles confer obligations to perform in the manner that is necessary to ‘make’ the other happy. And the punishments meted out when we disappoint others can be brutal: hard eyes, harsh words, even total rejection.
Being yourself is a risky endeavour. Fool-hardy, even?
Our culture does not advocate self-determined happiness and well-being; it advocates dependent happiness and well-being. But that will also have to wait for a different blog post!
The point of this post was to ponder the belief that not being loved is a disaster. I’m saying that the belief itself is the disaster because of what it makes us do: dance like cats on hot tins roofs in terror of being deemed – gasp – unlovable.