What if I told you that conformism could be the leading reason why you feel unhappy with your life?
Humans are social creatures. The need to feel accepted, appreciated and loved is inherent in our nature.
However, that need can be devastating if you are not careful.
Most people end up following the norm. The socially accepted way to live in an attempt to fit in and feel part of the society.
Nobody wants to be ostracized.
The fear of ostracism is probably one of the greatest fears people face even if they don’t really acknowledge it.
In ancient Greece, the Athenians used to punish with ostracism those who were considered as threats to the city-state of Athens.
They were expelled and sent away for a whole decade!
Even the great Themistocles was ostracized and sent in exile to the state-city of Argos for 10 years.
The fear of ostracism still exists.
It inhabits the souls of most people today and drives them into making foolish decisions that lead to living a miserable life.
This miserable life is the end result of becoming a conformist.
What Is Conformism?
According to Wikipedia:
“Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms.”
In other words, a conformist is someone who unquestionably follows the example of others. Someone who does or believes in something just because others do it too.
When you unquestionably accept things, you eliminate the fear of ostracism.
However, acting that way creates even worse problems…
1. Conformism Turns People Into Zombies
And this starts at a really young age.
Most of the times, it’s subtle. You can’t even understand it’s happening. School is really good at making kids conformists.
Soon enough, you see 17 years old young people with no drive, motivation or desire to excel.
They all want to fit in…
They don’t want to be different because they are afraid of not being accepted…
They give up on their dreams and goals to do something others tell them it’s the right thing…
2. Conformism Doesn’t Let You Live A Fulfilling Life
How can you live a life that’s fulfilling when you always play it safe and never take risks?
How can your life be exciting if you do nothing exciting?
You can’t do anything exciting if you are a conformist. You have to adhere to the rules and guidelines other people have set up for you.
You must act in a predetermined way.
You must live in a predetermined way.
You must take a predetermined life path usually involving college, marriage, job and late retirement.
3. Conformism Kills Your Creativity
When you try to fit in, you stop being creative.
Instead of trying to find new ways to solve problems and come up with ideas – you are taught to think inside of a box.
4. Conformism Makes You Remain Mediocre
How can you excel when you do the same thing everyone else does?
It’s impossible to succeed when you do what other regular people do.
Because it doesn’t work. If it worked, then they wouldn’t be regular people – they would be successful.
When you follow the advice of regular people, you will become a regular person.
A mediocre person.
How To Stop Being A Conformist
First of all, understand that a winner is a non-conformist.
If you want more out of your life, you need to start acting and thinking differently than most people do.
It’s impossible to live a flourishing life if you make the mistake of unquestionably following the herd.
Otherwise, people would be happy and fulfilled with their lives, families, jobs and accomplishments.
But you see that that’s not the case in reality.
Most people prefer to hit the snooze button in the morning and stay in the warmth of their bed instead of waking up and going to work.
So many people out there hate their job. But even if they hate it, they work harder and harder to cover their continually rising expenses.
Then, they hate themselves even more.
The big houses, expensive cars and college degrees posted on the wall don’t matter as long as you feel like you have failed yourself…
That’s the first step to breaking out of the chains of conformism. You have to stop doing what everyone else does.
You have to stop doing things just because other people do the same.
That’s it? So Simple?
Yes, it’s so simple.
Most of the times, all you need to solve a problem is to be aware of the problem and what causes the problem.
How can you solve a problem that you are not aware it exists?
When you know what’s the problem – in the particular case following the example of others unquestionably – then it’s considerably easier to solve it.
Secondly, understand what causes conformism, where it leads and if that’s a price you want to pay:
Fear of Ostracism => Become a Conformist => Loss Of Uniqueness => Misery
The fear of being an outcast leads to becoming a conformist.
You have to win that fear.
You have to look your fears into the eyes and crush them like you should do with the fear of failure.
Winning your fear(s) is easier when you understand the concept of neuroplasticity.
How neuroplasticity works when it comes to winning your fears:
The more times you expose yourself to a fear, the easier it is to overcome it.
Let me give you a real life example.
Have you ever been on a Roller Coaster ride?
I am not talking about these baby roller coasters you see in most local Theme Parks.
I am talking about riding some of the scariest, motherfucking roller coasters in the world.
Recently I went to a theme park in Italy called Gardaland.
Gardaland features Oblivion: The Black Hole – the world’s first vertical roller coaster. You can see it in the picture above.
That thing scares the shit out of you. Really.
I was afraid of heights.
However, I wanted to overcome that fear.
Is there a better way to crush this fear than riding a roller coaster that makes you think you are going to die?
Oblivion gets you at the top slowly to trigger your fear.
Then it gets suspended over a vertical drop on a holding brake.
After a few seconds, the train is released and plummets down the vertical drop into a subterranean tunnel with a speed of about 100 km/h!
After levelling out and ascending back out from the tunnel, the train flips through an immelmann and over an airtime hill, before navigating a 270° helix.
Not only it’s climbing slowly towards the top, but it also STOPS there while gearing towards the drop to scare the shit out of you even more!
Just give a look at 0.25 in the video below.
That’s what I saw when I was riding Oblivion.
It’s definitely not the most pleasant thing when you are afraid of heights. And believe me, it’s 10x more worse to live it than watching it from a computer screen…
However, I had the same ride 3 times.
Each time was even less scary. I think I would be bored if I had 4-5 more rides!
That’s what happens when you expose yourself to your fears. You gradually get accustomed to them.
The more you expose yourself to your fears, the less you fear them!
This is called “Exposure Therapy”.
Chris from Good Looking Loser talks about this in this article about approach anxiety.
When it comes to conformism, you have to expose yourself to the fear of being an outcast.
This may include other people criticizing you, doubting your decisions or advising you to give up on your dreams and goals.
That’s inevitable when you stop following the norm. You will have to face it.
However, the reward of facing that fear and breaking free from the chains of conformism can’t be compared to anything.
It’s called freedom of choice. Real freedom.
Most people think they are free while they are not. They live in the illusion that they are free to choose their destiny.
In reality, they just do what others do. Unquestionably.
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- Play it safe!
- Get a college degree!
- Find a good and safe job!
- Buy a house – it’s your greatest asset!
The reality is that you have a choice.
Choose between living in the illusion of freedom of choice.
Or choose to separate yourself from the crowd, be different, be a non-conformist. Be a lion instead of a damn silly sheep.
The 2nd option is tough at first, but definitely worth it over the long-term.
Your life, your choice.
My choice is to face it and ride the fucking roller coaster.
(Excuse me for the silly duckface. Side effect of the multiple rides.)