Sometimes I am so tired of the self-help industry and the imposed expectations it places on us. While reading an interesting article about the differences in shamanic treatments for mental illness that are radically different from the Westernized way, my senses were heightened about the level of expectations in this culture. It is exhausting.
In the American ‘way’ the linear (and largely heterosexual) progression of college, career, mating, and birthing children is promoted. And this serves whom? The societal time tables that are clearly expected for this progression are artificial constructs that the sheeple attempt to follow, sometimes at great damage to self. It keeps the self-help industry afloat.
Our culture often does not allow us to take things at a pace that is more suited to our individual development. This is most clearly seen in the school system, where great numbers must be herded through to what, stay on schedule? And those that cannot master that pace, or those that need to run faster, are only accommodated in the most rudimentary fashion. When behaviors are extraordinary, our culture feels compelled to label, medicate, squelch, or even isolate those who present them (See resource below). We certainly don’t celebrate them! I always wonder at what would happen for students if they had a system that did truly let them bloom on their own schedule, or that promoted more acceptance of those outliers. There are a few isolated examples where this happens, such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, but it certainly is not the norm. And why is that?
When things feel like they are moving out of sync for you, stop and ask yourself if you are meeting others’ expectations or your own. Ann Lamott, the author, has a way of cutting to the heart of such matters without mincing words: “Just today. I have you, you have me.” And it could be that you need a shot of nature or some exposure to something greater than yourself, without absorbing feelings of inferiority in the process. Occasionally, it helps to see how insignificant our machinations are in the scheme of things. If you would like someone to act as a mirror for you, please contact me.
Resource: Mentally Ill Persons in Corrections
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