freeing ourselves from others


I’m sure that there are those out there who feel pressured and overwhelmed by the thoughts and opinions of others. Everyone has their say, and there are some out there who feel a particular strong need to impress it upon others… even if it means ignoring someone’s free will and individuality. This has been getting to me as of late.

Lately, I’ve been getting headaches. And I knew it’s all been psychological; our feelings can manifest in our bodies in this way (i.e., somatic symptoms). When we get anxious, we feel tense. When we’re depressed, our bodies feel zapped of all energy. Our body, mind and spirit are all connected.

With all the craziness that has been happening in my life, I spent a good hour meditating last night and soon realized why I was having so many headaches. Everyone’s voices have been in my head, mucking up my thoughts and consequently my being. Anna, do this. Anna, do that. Anna, you’re squandering your potential. Anna, [insert opinion on my life here]… on and on it goes, all the things people are telling me to do, telling me how to see it and how to be. Until my brain finally exploded in pain, screaming, shut up! I’m so sick of hearing all of you!

I just want to hear me. I just want to hear what I need, and what my Inner Voice says is best for me. Only I know what’s best for me, no one else. Who makes you think that you know what my potential is? What makes you think you know what’s right for my life? No one knows that, except for my Maker. So don’t act as if you have some authority over my life.

I know I am not alone in feeling bogged down sometimes by the opinions and feedback of others who think they know what you should do with your life. I hope these words can help someone else, as they are the reminders I need constantly. Only you know what’s best for you. Only you know who you can and want to be. This life is not for others to live, but yours. You’re the one who’ll have to face all of the consequences of your choices. Not them. So they don’t get to have any say in how you live your life.

One technique I’ve been doing that has been helping is mindfulness meditation. You can find apps or scripts online, but it helps train your mind to be rooted in the present and to let all thoughts and people’s voices in your head go. And specifically in this case, it also helps to let go of all those opinions and should-bes. Mindfulness is a practice that orients your mind to accept yourself and the world as it is in the present moment. It’ll clear out all the junk in your mind, and give you the clarity you need.

We need to learn to let go of other people’s opinions of us, to stop letting their thoughts control us. It’s the only way we’ll be able to be who we are, our true selves. What they say does not have to go, and does not have to hold significance we do not want it to. It’s a self-care and self-love practice, by not forcing ourselves into a mold or into a kind of thinking that is not truly us. Some people may be too dogmatic, too judgmental, too needy, and try to force you to be someone you’re not, but they are who they are. It has nothing to do with us. Just let it all go. Let it all pass without judgment. It is what it is, and people will be who they are.

And the same also applies to us… allow yourself to be who you are. And let the rest of it go.

life is


The way I see it, we are all looking at an enormously large statue, one that even if we were to strain our necks, we cannot see in its entirety. All of us are scattered around it, staring at, above, and below, attempting to comprehend the towering statue, to figure it out, discern its meaning, have our eyes touch every single intricacy and complexity, every twist and knot. Yet we will certainly fail at the task in completeness, because the statue is far too large to consume. From the position we stand, at the ground and angle we are viewing, we cannot see everything. It is not physically possible, not in our means to. In addition, we all experience the statue differently, hold a cacophony of emotions, feelings, and thoughts toward it. It is impossible to find an “ultimate meaning” of a statue that we can all agree on, that none of us had a hand in creating. As it is with any piece of art, the Artist has his or her intent in creating it, whether we know or understand it, and as we encounter it, we subjectively experience it in our individual being.

We can only experience the statue, see it, feel it, from where we stand. Perhaps, one can argue, that is the point.

The statue is, of course, life. Each of us are at a different position, have a particular view of the statue, yet sometimes we forget, sometimes we think that all we see is all there is to it. Although it certainly is not. There is so much to the statue that is out of our sights, beyond our experiences, beyond our capacity to experience from where we stand. That is why it is a wonderful gift to me when I hear people and their perspectives. Part of my life’s motto is to live with an open mind, because to hear another’s view provides me with the unique experience of seeing a part of the statue I have not seen. It is so easy to get stuck in our bubble of thinking, so to open our mind to various perspectives bursts the bubble, tears down the walls that keep us stuck, stretches our thinking to touch new thoughts, new heights.

That is why I would never criticize a person simply for having a different perspective than mine, for their perspective yields a piece of a statue that many others cannot see, just as mine does also. Each person’s perspective is valuable.

It is also a comforting fact to discover there are others near you, when you realize someone sees the same twist in the statue that you do… when all this time you thought you were isolated and alone in your view. Finally, there is a companion to join you in your experience of the statue. You are not so weird after all. And what a validating feeling that is!

From my perspective, I find it a futile task to create an all-encompassing definition of life when we have not, and cannot, see the whole statue. There will be an infinite number of contradictions to whatever we come up with, because the statue is just that immense, that complex. We only know what we see. Life appears to be what you perceive, and what you make of those perceptions. Yet, I find it a valuable task indeed to open your ears and broaden your mind to others’ experiences and definitions. It helps to tear down those dangerous, narrowing assumptions that could drown us: that it is hopeless, there is nothing more to life than your four walls, things will never change, you will never change. We always have a choice, albeit a difficult one. It is hard to willingly stretch your mind, heart, and soul to reach past where you have stood for so many years. But I will believe to my death that that is the way we learn, mature and grow.

‘Tis life, I suppose. At least from where I stand.