For years, I used to be spiritual.
I thought it was a good thing. A positive thing. A sign of goodness. A sign of being the right kind of person-ness.
And then… in one shocking moment that I didn’t see coming, I realised the totally-insane fucked-up nature of my thinking.
Being spiritual is a bunch of bullshit.
In fact, ‘being’ anything is a bunch of bullshit.
I know that’s a very strong statement.
In this post I share the 7 things I realised that led to me quitting ‘being spiritual’. And in fact, quitting ‘being’ altogether.
I’ll also share how it gave me back my freedom – to be myself and to create my life by my own design.
It might just give you back yours too….
Realisation #1: I’ve been told my whole life how + who to be (and so have you).
If you think about it, we are taught who we ought to be from a very young age.
A number of virtues are sold to us from the time we are toddlers.
“Be polite”, “be kind”, “be friendly”.
(The list is much longer, but you get the idea).
Not only are we taught how we need to be, but if/when we don’t comply, consequences are handed down to support the shaping of our future choices.
Physical exclusion. Emotional rejection. Removal of things we wanted. Physical punishment in the name of ‘discipline’ or ‘correction’.
It’s so natural for us, as hard-wired social creatures who rely on others for survival to accept what we’re told about how to fit in.
All of which ignores the question, the validity and the reality of who we truly are before we start being told we have to be something to be accepted.
Realisation #2: The pressure and number of virtues mount as we get older
As we get older, the ways we were supposed to be evolved to become more ‘adult’.
“Be hardworking”. “Be successful”. “Be responsible.”
And for those of us that engaged in more spiritual, New-age conversations, it evolves further.
“Be fabulous”. “Be a change-maker.” “Be spiritual”.
It’s hard to see it coming, but so easy to find ourselves wrapped up in idealistic ways of thinking, behaving, and seeing ourselves and who we think we should be.
And all according to ideals and concepts we took on that we never really stopped to consider.
Realisation #3: Ideals rob us of our authentic selves
Why this is a major problem is that the pressure to ‘be’ (and all the doing we have to do to prove it) causes us to focus on living out ideals, instead of being our authentic selves – and living out our own authentic values and deepest aspirations.
And that, my friend, is one mighty HUGE, painful and exhausting burden.
Serving other people’s expectations of us, instead of creating what matters to us, sucks. It’s exhausting and relentless.
Because all the hard work and dedication we put into ‘being the right kind of person’ was not paying off like we thought it would.
If we followed these virtues, these became the ideals against which we measure and judge ourselves and our performance, and the voice of our self-deprecation when we fall short.
(Talk about pressure).
We’ve sold ourselves out from being who we are, to try to be something else we’ve been sold is ‘better’.
As an aside, is it any wonder why we have such a stressed out, exhausted, depressed, medicated society, with a real problem with both youth and adult suicide?
Realisation #4: Being also takes our focus away from creating what matters to us
When our focus is on how we should be, our focus isn’t on creating what matters to us, or on discovering and living from our own authentic values.
It’s on ourselves – and trying to be the ‘right’ kind of person.
No wonder we experience so much struggle in creating what matters to us.
Side-note: I have a blog series on how to create what matters to you. You’ll not be surprised to know that includes having your focus in the right place (and I share where that needs to be). You can find the series in the ‘Must Reads’ on my blog.
Realisation #5: There’s no-one to blame
It might be easy to look for someone to blame for the messages we received about who we needed to be.
Parents, terrible teachers, the cool kids at school, religious leaders, or society.
Let me be clear…
This is not a ‘fault’ thing.
There’s no-one to blame.
Because the truth is that they didn’t ‘do it’ to us.
We could have chosen to reject their requirements of us and chosen our own path.
But as youngsters, because we didn’t know better. When we innocently bought into their expectations and began to form our sense of self around what we should be, we didn’t know what we were doing.
That’s no-one’s fault.
Realisation #6: We only need to prove things about ourselves that we don’t believe to be true
Have you noticed how the only things we need to prove about ourselves are the things we don’t actually believe to be true? And how we don’t need to prove the things that we know are?
For example, I am a female.
I know this.
I sit down to pee. That’s not an effort or something I think about. It’s frankly just a whole lot cleaner than peeing all over the floor.
Some days I wear pants. Sometimes I wear skirts and make-up. Some days I spend all day working in my PJ’s without a bra on.
I don’t have to walk around telling myself that I am, or working hard to ‘be’ a girl. I am just myself in my girly-ness. And I can get on with my day quite well, without having to work at ‘being’ anything girly.
All of these ‘being’ things we try to ‘be’ – or be ‘more of’ – are ideals we sign up to, without realising the reasons. (Or the implications.)
If we have to ‘do something’ to ‘be something’, then we really should be asking ourselves why we’d need to prove it.
If I’m kind, I’m kind. I don’t need to ‘be kind’. If I’m honest, I don’t need to ‘be honest’ because I just am.
Realisation #7: You either are, or you aren’t. ‘Doing’ doesn’t prove you are.
Being spiritual used to look to me like yoga at ungodly hours, green tea, twice-daily meditation, and Buddha statues all over the show.
But that defined set of images in my head that would prove my ‘success’ at this whole ‘being spiritual’ game meant I was most certainly failing at being spiritual.
Because the truth is that I don’t do yoga.
No matter how peaceful and spiritual it looks on Instagram, I’ve tried it. And trust me. Spiritual is the furtherest verb from how I make yoga look. I’m an embarrassment to yoga. And my cranky old sports injuries punish me for trying.
I don’t drink green tea. While I’d love to be a green-tea drinking yogi, I can’t stomach the fact that it tastes like old dirty dish water left in the sink after a big dinner party.
Most days, I don’t meditate.
I do have Buddha statues all over the show, but that’s just cause I love the literal pants off them.
Let me be clear. I do have a deep faith. But that’s not really the point.
I don’t need to ‘be spiritual’ because I just am.
I don’t have to do anything with it. Like being a girl, I don’t need to ‘be’ a girl.
When it comes to ‘being spiritual’, if I have to ‘be spiritual’ to be spiritual, I’m not really spiritual.
What I got that changed my mind on this whole ‘being spiritual’ thing, was that I realised that makes me spiritual is that I have faith and spiritual beliefs.
Having realised that, I can just get the fuck on with believing what I believe without having to focus on it or prove anything to anyone. Including myself.
What you can do to ‘free yourself’ to BE yourself
When I realised what I was doing to myself, I decided to grant myself the freedom to be myself.
I ‘downed tools’, put aside ideals and concepts of who I should be, and had a really long hard look – for months – at who I actually am.
And two extraordinary things happened.
I granted myself the chance to discover what I actually truly value and aspire to. This helped me to create the roadmap for how to build my life, true to myself.
For the first time in my life, I could stop doing what everyone else wanted (or wanted for me), and start doing what is actually true for me.
Secondly, by dropping the need to ‘be’ anything, I freed myself from the expectation and the tremendous burden that comes with trying to ‘be’ something.
There are so many people out there trying to ‘find themselves’. Trying to work out who they are – and who to be.
But here’s the kicker….
If you are being yourself – just as you are, without judgment or fear of not being the right kind of person, you don’t need to ‘be’ anything.
You can just be yourself because YOU ARE yourself.
But now, you’ll be free to create your own life.
‘Being’ is a bunch of bullshit.
It stops us being who we actually are, in preference for trying to be something we actually aren’t.
If you are something, you are. If you aren’t, you aren’t. (And that’s okay!)
How about we get on with being who we actually are?
If that means we have spiritual beliefs, then cool. But how about we stop trying to prove it?
Because it doesn’t make us better. What it makes us is rejecting of ourselves.
And I for one, refuse to live like that.
What do you say? Give me a ‘hell yeah!’ in the comments below if you too refuse to reject yourself any longer with this ‘being’ bullshit….
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Big love to you + to you being your true authentic self!
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