Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.
editors note: This is a guest post from Mark Blasini of Dark Lion Music. Please check out his website for inspired writing and amazing music.
The box is not the problem…
The real problem is the fact that you think you need the box. The fact that you cling to it to help protect you. In the end, though, you only put yourself in more danger. What is the box, you ask? The box is a social frame, a way of thinking about and interacting with others, that one uses to “fit in” to society. This box has many different shapes and sizes, from conformity to competitiveness to simple laziness, but at its core is one central weakness: the fear of worthlessness.
Contrary to popular belief, we actually don’t fear failure. We fail all the time, everyday, unafraid. We fail when we yell at or reprimand our children in order to discipline them. We fail when we eat foods high in sodium or saturated fat and expect proper nourishment. We fail when we hate our jobs, and yet we still clock in and clock out, week in and week out. We fail when we don’t question our values and assumptions when interacting with others, but expect others to do the same.
No, what we fear is worthlessness. What we fear is the failure to provide value. What we fear is doing something in which we have invested time, energy, and resources, just to see it get ignored or easily forgotten. What we fear is putting ourselves out there for public scrutiny only to be judged and criticized. For this reason, we often take the safe route, putting ourselves in a box that allows us to contribute something of accepted value (e.g. work, money, disciplining, etc.) rather than something truly meaningful, innovative, and inspiring.
This fear is not unreasonable. We live in a society that views the failure to add value as a huge taboo, which is why we often define our status in society by employment. The first question, for example, that people usually ask after meeting someone: “What do you do?” Being ingrained in us for so long, it’s not difficult to understand why we feel we need the box. The box, for the most part, works well. It keeps others from looking down on you and gives you at least a minor sense of comfort that you’re doing something “of value.”
The problem is, the more you rely on the box, the less chance you have actually to produce something of real value. Something that can leave the world better off than it was before (instead of leaving it the same). In addition, the more you depend on the box to protect you, the more insecure you’ll actually feel, and thus, the more afraid you’ll be. And eventually you’ll feel miserable.
If you’re tired of relying on the box (which, if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are), and you want commit yourself to creating a life where you provide real, meaningful value for others, then here are a few tips to help started:
I can’t promise this will be easy for you (change never is). But I can promise that you will have more control over your life and less fear. And that is without a doubt the best condition for providing truly meaningful value to the world.
Mark Blasini writes about art, music, and creativity at www.DarkLion.com. He is the author of the free e-book Light the Fire: Six Simple Principles for Creating Art That Inspires, downloadable if you subscribe to the website above. You can also find him on Twitter as @TheProfMusic or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.