Hi Joshua,

I have a question about living my life within the boundaries of everyone else’s rules. I try to follow my Mom’s rules about how other people and I should live, because I want her approval and because life, my feelings, are better when I act according to her rules. I also try to follow the different set of rules of my friends, so that they will accept and include me. Being a part of a group feels good. And I follow the more general rules of my close society and cultural rules of my country.

I just realized that this leaves me in a very restricted space with very little room to move. I only allow myself to move within that small space where everyone else’s rules agree on what I could or should do. Suddenly, I find this incredibly limiting and very painful. I limit myself because I am so scared of not being approved of, or being shut out, or being alone. How do I find my way out of this dependency? How do I let go of this need to be accepted and approved of? I want to live by MY rules, but I am afraid of being left alone if I don’t act and do as other people want me to.

Thank you for any and all help.

With love, Astrid

Dear Astrid,

You are a unique, limitless, and worthy being who came here to explore reality in your own unique way. You chose your family and the environment of your youth so that you could be launched on a trajectory that would lead you to the things you want to explore. You came here to expand through experience, however, your experience is quite limited by your need to conform to other people’s wishes. You no longer have to do that. You can now be free to explore life any way you choose without worrying about what everyone else thinks.

You mother wants you to behave in a way that is pleasing to her for one reason only; she does not want to experience negative emotion. It’s not that she cares about what you do, it’s only about how she will feel in reaction to what you do. She cannot deal with her own feelings. That means she can only do one thing; she must force you to conform to her rules.

The same is true of your friends and your society. If you do something they judge as wrong or inappropriate, it makes them feel bad and they cannot control how they feel so they must control you. You also want to feel good because you cannot control your feelings and so you don’t want to do anything to make them upset because in doing so you will encounter negative emotion of your own. It’s a cycle of control with a lot of momentum behind it. The funny thing is is that it’s based on irrational fear. Without fear, you could do whatever you wanted to. It’s the fear of emotional pain that keeps you in line.

Centuries ago it was more important for people to maintain their place within a small social structure. The group depended on the actions of each member for survival. The fear was rational. However, you do not need to belong to any social group in order to survive. In fact, you can easily find a group that meets the wants of needs of any specific lifestyle that appeals to you. You can literally be anyone you want to be. Worrying about what others think only limits your experience of life. Since you came here for the experience, don’t let their opinions influence you. Do whatever you want to do. Be whoever you want to be. You are limitless.

If you did what you wanted to do and that caused your mother to think less of you, what would that mean to you? Would you die? No. So, the fear is irrational. If the action cannot cause you physical harm, then the fear of that action is irrational. If your mother’s love is dependent on you following her rules, then that love is conditional. You do not need to worry about that. You will always be connected in the nonphysical. There is no need to maintain life-long connections here in physical reality if those connections do not serve you.

To be happy, you must be who you are. You cannot be happy by pretending to be different than you are just so that people like you. You can be who you are not and feel content, it’s just that you don’t know what you’re missing. The feeling is an illusion. If you enjoyed your life fully by pretending to be someone you are not because this allowed those around you to love you, then we would say that this is a very good way to live for you. However, if you are dissatisfied with the experience of life and you yearn for something more, we would say that it’s finally time for you to discover and to live as who you really are.

Do not worry about losing your friends or family relationships. They are stronger than you think. Do not worry about what society thinks. As long as you are not hurting anyone else, most people won’t even notice. Start slowly. Express how you feel. Tell them what you want. Demand to do things you want to do. Start exploring. Do not let fear stop you. Move out of your comfort zone. Do not give a shit what anyone thinks.

Here’s a little secret. They are not thinking about you that much and they have no idea who the real you is. When you start acting as the authentic version of yourself, everything will start to work. Everything will begin to fall in place. You will begin to feel real joy, not just the illusion of safety. You will begin to expand just as you intended to prior to your birth. It is time for you to set yourself free.

We are Joshua