Why do people settle for a lifestyle other than their true path, the way they really want to live? Ultimately, it is the fear of disapproval, or even outright rejection, from loved ones that cause people to move into the somewhat comfortable numbness of Shouldland. But it is often just the fear that turns people off of their path, not any actual disapproval or rejection.
Avril Carruthers reveals that to counter the fear of disapproval we need to develop the ability to self-soothe. We need to make our own opinion of ourselves more important than anyone else’s opinion of us. It means we remain self-determined rather than dependent on the opinion of others for how we feel about ourselves. If we can soothe ourselves when we fear rejection, or even if we are actually rejected, we can stop hiding and be ourselves.
This is easier said than done. The comfortable numbness of Shouldland can be addictive. Like a substance addiction it can initially feel really nice but will always hurt us in the long run.
When we finally take responsibility for our character, and begin to act in the present and with intent, it might feel a little weird. Like learning to ride a surfboard, we might wobble and fall a few times before becoming stable.
What can make this hard is when we don’t relate to old friends as we once did. Some relationships may drop away, not without some pain and regret, and it may take a little while for new friendships to appear. Where our old relationships once contained shared values and interests, we can find that this is no longer.
This can be a time when we slip, even only temporarily, back into our old patterns, our old character. This is when we need to be really strong, and maintain the ability to self-soothe.
We discover that the reasons we were relating to certain people was generally dictated by how we saw ourselves according to how we were conditioned, and therefore not really true choices at all. Our characters chose other characters as friends. Our characters chose our lifestyle.
When we decide to take over our own lives, true friendships and not characters are needed.