Last week I pointed out how we are part of a herd, that it has its benefits, but it can also be detrimental, if there isn’t room for freedom of expression and exploration.
Remember Mary and Beth and Jacki and June? (See Part of the Herd (Part One). They, in their various ways were attempting to break out of the herd and become more themselves. All of them were met with disapproval and threat on some level. Mary was finally losing many pounds, after years of struggle, using behaviour modification which included avoiding her friends that were only into eating, drinking and sitting around gossiping as recreation. Of course, these friends resented her and dubbed her as ‘snooty.’ Beth was finally seeking therapy after years of covering up her abusive childhood. Many in her community stigmatize those in therapy as “mentally ill” which has been very hurtful for Beth.
Jacki and June struggle to keep a relationship with their mother even though she continually belittles and berates them, because they believe one should be nice to their mother.
Group disapproval is a powerful force and it is strictly based in fear. The way of the herd, even if it is abusive, is familiar and predictable, which is preferable to risk and uncertainty. It would be delightful if all of our groups encouraged us to step outside, to explore, to express ourselves fully, but most groups view anything outside the rules as threatening and will quickly strike to shut any of that threat down and if that means annihilating you personally, some groups will do it.
Why, Exactly, Should You Struggle to be Heard outside the Herd?
1) To uncover your particular gifts and strengths. When we are playing roles to fulfill the needs of others and keep peace, we are not living as our authentic selves. The joy of living lies in expressing our individual unique abilities which means discovering what they are and finding ways to demonstrate them.
2) To avail yourself of the experiences, which will include joy and pain (yes, your risk may cause pain, but you will get through it), that lay beyond your comfort zone. We are programed or designed for expansion and growth. The very thing that we want to change or create is the process or challenge that will turn us into our true selves.
3) To bring expansion and growth back to your tribe. Yes, when we change, it does affect the people around us and sometimes that is met with disapproval. Think of the caveman who struck out on his own, much to the chagrin of his family and friends. He ventures far afield to discover another colony of cavemen who possess the skill to make fire. The caveman brings that knowledge back to his cave family who are initially terrified of this new magic. They live and evolve, because of fire they never would have had, had their guy not gone out into the risky unknown.
You, being your fully expressed self brings growth and expansion to everyone around you, which is your gift to them.
Beth and Mary have made their individual changes and have inspired many in their community to do the same. Pounds have been lost, gyms have been joined, treatments have been pursued and friendships have become more honest and true.
Jacki and June have learned to respectfully correct their mother and institute personal boundaries when her judgements are out of line. Surprisingly, their mother is voicing pride and respect for her daughters as never before.