“Run from what's comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” ~Rumi
What I am learning is that self-acceptance is independent of the acceptance of others. It often coincides, but acceptance cannot be outsourced. The sum of external validation we receive from others — even if say it came from 7+ Billion others — can never add up to our own inner validation. That only comes from alignment with our hearts and our own deepest sense of purpose. This is a lesson which must run much deeper than intellectual understanding. It must enter our sinews.
The world has a lot of broken stuff, and yet the prevailing norm is to try to orient by its standards. Normalcy is one of the most destructive concepts there is. The prevailing NORM is orienting towards fitting in, doing what we think is expected of us. A study revealed the number one deathbed regret is living by the expectations of others. What do we lose in the process? The price is unquantifiable.
Our reputation can never be more than illusion and moving target. We can never know it. An inner compass works much better to orient ourselves. Yet we devote endless energy to maintaining a clean reputation. Those others out there represent the projection of what we secretly fear we are—our worst. We fear a final condemnation of reputation unifying into one solid mass of rejection and the declaration in the headlines of the most famous newspapers bought in droves around the country in airports everywhere that read, “[My name here] HAS FAILED AS A HUMAN”. So we attempt to keep our armor shiny and our masks smiley.
Let us regain our power and freedom by destroying reputation! What does your inner notoriety long to say to the world? How might you inspire the rest of us if you had permission to be yourself? Are you willing to let that be a journey of ongoing expansion and refinement? Mistakes are encouraged because they mean you’ve learned to challenge the illusion of safety and control.
Living by reputation makes the world seems smaller than it is and life seems flatter than it is. Because we don’t know any different, we take the world as we perceive it. We accept smallness and flatness and deem it normal. Video games, reality tv, porn, and beer pretend to help. We have even created a soap opera out of our government for a little bit additional negatively oriented pleasure. We share responsibility for this.
Yet something in us intuits the possibilities beyond which ask only a hint of vision and a drop of faith. We can begin from absolutely anywhere.
I write about this because I observe a strong tendency towards reputation in myself. I see how boring, limiting, and mediocre it is. I am watching it so that I can transform it. I encourage others to do the same.
I notice that I have invested and oriented and made decisions based on appearances for far too long. It’s safe. I have to a certain degree neglected my opportunity to live my truth in the process. I am far from alone here. In fact, it's built into the human psyche. Mental narratives reinforce these behaviors. They are so seductive that we don’t even realize our deeper human values of integrity, honesty, authenticity, and character are sacrificed on the altar of status. Yet those values are a refuge, in the truest sense, for us.
The deep comfort we long for comes in their practice. Practice it is. The opposing tendencies run deep in our neural networks and emotional systems. We must stand up time and time again after falling time and time again to realize them. Most don’t want to sign up for that. It’s ok, for the ones who do, they learn the fruits and flowers are well worth it.
We use external standards to the extent we are alienated and disconnected from ourselves. It’s hard to hear, but true. Yet, it’s a spectrum, it’s not black or white. We know there are areas in our lives where we can shine. That’s also true for all.
“Recovering the self must include the recovery of the ability to have and to cognize these inner signals, to know what and whom one likes and dislikes, what is enjoyable and what is not, when to eat and when not to, when to sleep, when to urinate, when to rest. The experientially empty person, lacking these directive from within, these voices of the real self, must turn to outer cues for guidance, for instance eating when the clock tells him to, rather than obeying his appetite…He guides himself by clocks, rules, calendars, schedules, agendas, and by hints and cues from other people.” ~Maslow
The longer we pretend we have got it all together for the sake of appearance, the more time we waste in our own learning, evolution, and growth. The truth shall set us free.
Every human being I've met until today feels not good enough in some way or other. It doesn’t have to be a secret where we are all trying to hide this from each other behind our armor and masks. What wonder and relaxation can come from acknowledging our humanity!
We are wired for community and the need for belonging. It is natural to seek that for us humans. Yet we should question how we go about it.
We climb the reputation tree mistakenly thinking it's the belonging tree. We hope to find fruits of belonging on the wrong branches.
Invest in and choose character. Reputation, and more importantly belonging, take care of themselves.
"Your contribution is necessary. You are free to define what that contribution is in a way that is an actual reflection of you in a more fully self-expressed way." ~Nita Baum of b*free
Be notorious my friend.