Six Killers of Individuality and Personal Independence

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Is the course of your life determined by your own internal road map or by a map made by someone else?

Each of us can choose our direction deliberately and live a life custom sculpted. Each life can be as individually unique as the person living it. If you pattern your life after someone else, exactly what is it you have to offer?

Following the herd has always been humanity’s default behavior. The idea of strength in numbers provides a feeling of belonging and a false sense of security. But if you look at the people who stand out in history, it’s not the faceless and fearful members of the flock who we remember, but the bold and adventurous.

“It is a blessed thing that in every age someone has had the individuality enough and courage enough to stand by his own convictions.” – Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-99)

The Inspiring I-Think-I-Canners

These rugged individualists of the past often had a difficult time walking their own path. Speaking their mind and following their own internal guidance system put them at odds with the establishment of their day. For example, Galileo was under house arrest for many years for speaking out against the accepted knowledge of his day — even though he was right. Socrates was condemned to drink poison hemlock because his ideas didn’t support the officially sanctioned train of thought.

Still, these men and many others stuck to their own ideals, determined to live their lives their way, rather than adopt the common way prescribed by those in power. There have been millions and billions through the ages who fade into the background blur of the masses, and we remember very few of them.

The rugged individualists stand out from the crowd, inspiring us with their daring spirit and strong resolve to live their lives from the inside out. They based their lives on the whisperings of their hearts — the internal guidance system that steered them into a life of inspiration. That decision to follow their own path made all the difference for them, as well as for those of us inspired by their example.

“The essence of independence has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without. Inevitably anyone with an independent mind must become ‘one who resists or opposes authority or established conventions’: a rebel. If enough people come to agree with, and follow, the Rebel, we now have a Devil. Until, of course, still more people agree. And then, finally, we have — Greatness.” – Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947)

It’s Never Been Easier

Think about past eras of humanity and how an individual’s life was predetermined by the expectations of others. If you were born poor, like the vast majority, you likely followed in your parents’ footsteps and remained poor. If you were one of the privileged few born into royalty, you were expected to stay there, even if you had a totally different song in your heart.

The caste system held everyone firmly in its grasp, and precious few dared to cross those invisible lines. Did your daddy build furniture? Then you were expected to become a carpenter too. Did your mama spin and weave? Then you were expected to do the same.

These days, there is still some expectation to follow in the footsteps of your ancestors, but there is also a new freedom, undreamed of only a few generations ago.

We are finally free to choose our own way, our own profession, our own life. What an amazing development in the evolution of humanity!

“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

Instead of allowing outer circumstances to dictate the direction of our life, we are free to look within and get in alignment with our deepest passions and biggest dreams. Many take this privilege for granted, not realizing what a valuable gift it is. Instead of blossoming into the fullest version of their unique self, they continue to amble along with the herd, doing things like everybody else because . . . well, because that’s what everybody else is doing. (Moooo.)

The Six Killers of Who You Really Are

1. “May” — This idea indicates self-doubt and lack of confidence in one’s own ability to choose. When used as a question as in, “May I do this, that or the other?” — it indicates a need to seek permission rather than to rely on your own sense of what is right, necessary and true. When used in a statement as in, “I may do this, that or the other.” — it indicates indecisiveness, a wishy-washy approach to life. A decisive individual, trusting their own course embraces their chosen direction with resolve and gusto. There is no room for “may.”

2. “Might” — This word is often used in the same way as “may” as in “I might do this, that or the other.” It is also used to express what might have been. This is a total waste of mental energy. What’s in the past is done. Its time has come and gone. As long as it is remembered, it will always be just as it was. No amount of thinking “what might have been” has the power to change even one tiny detail. There is nothing to be gained by reliving the past over and over in the imagination, fantasizing a different outcome. Instead of squandering this precious, present moment on thoughts of what might have been, a strong, independent individual will make a mental note of where improvements could be made whenever a similar situation presents itself, and then gets on with living life here and now — in this present moment.

3. and 4. “Could” and “Would” — These words (and the thoughts behind them) are often used as excuses as in, “I would if I could.” This attitude reflects lack of resolve and lack of self-confidence. The ancient Roman, Virgil, said, “Fortune favors the bold,” and the habit of surrounding oneself with “could” and “would” is anything but bold. Instead it indicates a timid, retiring and weak approach to life. That’s a good description of the herd instinct, following the crowd, the lemming approach to life. These words are also used to seek permission as in, “Would it be okay to . . .” or “Could I do this, that or the other?” A bold individualist simply states his or her intentions and asks if anyone cares to join in. Simple. Direct. To the point.

5. and 6. “Should” and “Must” — Should is often used in the same vein as “might have been” to express remorse about some past experience, fantasized with a different outcome. Again, after noticing the desire for a different way of handling a similar situation in the future, it’s a waste of valuable energy to dwell upon “shoulds.” The idea of should and must is often a reflection of the expectations of others. These are the things you do that are not inspired from your deepest self, but you do them anyway so that you don’t disappoint others. Living your life according to “should” and “must” is a way of orchestrating the details of your life according to your perception of the expectations of others. Of course this is merely your perception, which may be accurate or may be completely different from their real expectations. Either way, you are ignoring your own internal guidance system and steering the ship of your life according to external landmarks. Living this way in this new era of personal freedom is a shame. Living according to the expectations of others is the way of life of our ancient ancestors, mired down in the archaic caste system. It is an incredible gift to have the opportunity now to live a unique life, inspired by our own internal guidance system rather than according to our often skewed perception of the expectation of others.

“Then I found myself knockin’ at the pearly gates,
But nobody’d answer the door.
So I looked around and then I climbed the wall,
Just to look around a little more.
Then a fellow with a beard says ‘Hey, what’s your story?’
I think he said his name was Pete.
I said, ‘I shoulda done better, I coulda done better,
If I’da known this place was so neat.’
And Pete said, ‘Shoulda-coulda-woulda won’t get it up here,
But just lookin’ ain’t no sin.’
So I said, ‘Hey Pete, could you help me out?’
He said, ‘Sure, which way’d you come in?
I’d really love to help you out, which way’s you come in?’”
- from the song, “Love to Help You Out” by Tupelo Kenyon

Embrace the Gift of Individuality

So, the six killers of individuality and personal independence are: may, might, could, would, should and must. Basing your life experience on the ideas and limitations represented by these six words indicates personal weakness and fear of taking control of your own life. It shows a serious lack of self-confidence. Instead it reflects your willingness to surrender your personal power and destiny to someone else, letting them make the important decisions on your behalf.

If free will, individuality and personal independence are gifts from God, a preference for the herd instinct is like throwing them back in Her face.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as far as fair,
And perhaps having the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Rejoicing in the Diversity

We can each choose our direction, and the more diverse we become as a result, the better. When we learn to see the beauty and the benefit of contrast, it is no longer a threat to the status quo and the official company line.

Diversity helps us to make better choices. Even when we see someone else’s choice as 180 degrees out of phase with our own choice, it helps us to clarify and focus our own preferences. Let the other person be. Their choice may be different, but that’s okay. They are living their life, not yours.

If your choices and therefore your life was exactly like that of another, one of you would be redundant.

“Dare to be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not and to believe in your own individuality.” – Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Individuality, uniqueness and the freedom to stand out from the crowd is the spice of life. Being different is good. It’s not to be shunned or avoided, but embraced to enhance the grand diversity of the infinite potential of life itself.

“All Fords are exactly alike, but no two men are just alike. Every new life is a new thing under the sun; there has never been anything just like it before, never will be again. A young man ought to get that idea about himself; he should look for the single spark of individuality that makes him different from other folks, and develop that for all he is worth. Society and schools may try to iron it out of him; their tendency is to put it all in the same mold, but I say don’t let that spark be lost; it is your only real claim to importance.” – Henry Ford (1863 – 1947)

Your unique approach to life does not need to be approved or validated by anyone else in order to have unquestionable value for you. Even if everyone else seems to be going the other way, that’s not an indication it’s right for you. In fact, it may be a good clue that another way might be a better choice.

Ignore peer pressure. It is historically dangerous and smothers the seed of greatness struggling for nourishment deep inside. Nurture it and allow it to grow into your best possible life — the one you were born to live.

Follow your heart. Listen to your own internal guidance system. Follow the road not taken. Step away from the herd, and make a difference.

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the song samples below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

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Love to Help You Out
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Take the Plunge
Their advice is "for your own good", but the last thing you need to hear is their worst-case scenario.

Love is Who You Are
"What is love, anyway?" Is it something you give or get, have or make? Or could it be, down deep, simply who we are?

Celebrate Life
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Do What You Love
Discovering what we have a true passion for, and then figuring out a way to build a life around that passion is one of life’s greatest feelings of accomplishment.

Just One Step
Just begin. If you will just get underway, the project itself gains momentum and carries you along to its completion.

Hell or a Whole Lotta Fun
Nothing to do? How about too much to do? Our attitude seems to make the difference.

You Gotta Have Fun
Our moments are fleeting . . . and finite. Too few to squander on "bad news". We must steer our attention deliberately in order to attract the kind of life we were born to live.

Songs by Tupelo

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The Six Mistakes of Man
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Integrity Through Self-Reliance
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Articles by Tupelo

This is the end of the article entitled Six Killers of Individuality and Personal Independence published by Tupelo Kenyon on February 1, 2008 at 5:00 am | In Awareness, Inner Guidance, Integrity, Passion, Purpose, Self-Image - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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  1. Perception: Part I

    What does perception have to do with personal development? Perception can most definitely mean the difference between a great life, or a lousy one. For the most part, perception is about understanding the world around you and the reality of what is tru…

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  2. [...] Six Killers of Individuality and Personal Independence Is the course of your life determined by your own internal road map or by a map made by someone else? Each of us can choose our direction deliberately and live a life custom sculpted. Each life can be as individually unique as the person living it. If you pattern your life after someone else, exactly what is it you have to offer? [...]

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