Fear of Weird

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The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell us…

As I explained in a previous post, etymologically, ‘weird’ means ‘fate’ and in the way I am speaking of it is also synonymous with the process of individuation; becoming one’s true and whole (unique) self. In this context, we might think of fate as a divine blueprint with which, to a certain extent, we can choose whether or not to align ourselves.

In a recent post I wrote about making an appointment with ourselves at which we ask ourselves if we are living authentically. Are we living our own lives or trying to live up to the expectations of others, and so on... I would like to expand on that a little and look more closely at some of the fears which may be preventing us from living from our truest selves.

When you think of living your weird, you might feel yourself become anxious. Maybe you have no idea what that would look like. You might wonder if you would dress in odd ways or have mannerisms which people make fun of or maybe you fear that you would be so out of control you might wave your arms in the air and yell as you walk down the street.

In fact, those who do live from their truest self are likely to be more creative, but unless expressing yourself through clothing is of huge interest for you, (or have absolutely no concern for clothing at all) you will probably dress much the same as you do now. You will probably walk pretty much the same, though your body will probably be less tense and constricted. You might become more adventurous with your paint colours or art in your home, but only if interior design is an interest for you. In other words, you probably won’t appear that different from the outside. Carl Jung, who was one of the individuals most dedicated to living from his true self that I can think of, was outwardly just a guy in a suit (which was pretty standard attire for a male at in the first half of the last century). He was though, an amazing artist besides being a groundbreaking psychologist.

But me trying to convince you of this is not going to help much if you have anxieties about the opinions of others. And who doesn’t? It may help to think what would be the worst thing if you allowed yourself to be weird (more authentic)? (Taking a closer look at our fears and considering the worst possible scenario helps diffuse our fears, often completely.) A common fear is of appearing crazy or even being crazy. This seems to be a strong fear in North America in particular, probably having to do with the emphasis on being in control. (Maybe it is a chicken and egg kind of thing). I have had potential clients phone me for an appointment and try to assure me they are not crazy.

If looking or being crazy is a fear for you, ask yourself what crazy is exactly? What do you fear about being crazy? Perhaps you would scare people. Maybe people would laugh at you. Maybe you would become destructive. What would be the worst of these things? Sometimes people secretly would like to stick their tongue out or stamp their feet in public, etc. Is it possible you would secretly like to do the things you are afraid of?

Existentialist and Humanistic theorists often encourage clients (and all of us) to go out and be crazy. Try it out. See how it feels (as long as you don’t infringe on or cause harm to others). Make a fool of yourself, especially if that is your biggest fear. Feel the freedom. If people criticize you, just make sure you don’t turn against yourself. This isn’t about continuing with this behaviour but notice that it didn’t kill you. And also be aware if it gives you a little more space to be yourself. Sometimes just giving yourself permission to be crazy can make all the difference. And while I am on the topic, why do we assume crazy (whatever that means) is necessarily a bad thing? Our craziness may be” the best in us.”

Maybe your biggest fear about living your weird is that someone you love would reject you. In fact, when you live your weird you are a much more interesting person (and if they live theirs, you are likely to find them endlessly interesting.) But it is a risk. Maybe you will discover who loves you for yourself and who loves you because you are cooperating with their expectations. That doesn’t mean you have to love them less or cut yourself off from them. Maybe you will just need to develop patience and compassion for them while you carry on being yourself.

There are other common sorts of fears, like what if I just abandoned my job, or just stop doing anything at all? (One of the biggest fears clients have is of being “lazy” if they were just to be themselves). Another fear might be deciding to end a marriage. Or, what if I sold everything and took a trip around the world only to come back to nothing, or didn’t travel but just gave my money to the poor? What if I became really childish? What if I stopped wearing makeup or started wearing gobs of it, or what if I became one of those “soft” - or “tougher” kinds of men?

If you would like to live a more authentic life but something is holding you back, it is important to know what it is that is holding you back. It may be a very important part of you that has a need and something to say. Maybe a part of you really does want to get rid of a lot of stuff, or the opposite – perhaps you have a side of you that is a materialist. It doesn’t mean you have to switch identities suddenly. In fact, it’s not such a great idea to just swing to an opposite side. Better just to acknowledge there might be a part of you that is different from your usual identity. Listen to it. Hold it. Be aware of the inner conflict. Consider if there is room to integrate some of that into your life in some way. Maybe you can allow yourself to be a bit of a fashionista. Or if you are afraid of being lazy, ask yourself if you need to give yourself more rest.

Becoming aware of repressed aspects of ourselves is essential to living an authentic and healthy life. Through this process, dilemmas and inner conflicts occur, and they, too, are part of the process of becoming whole. Practicing discernment and working with these challenges are topics I will discuss in future posts.