Talking with various people in crisis, especially those in the first-half of life, I have realised how powerfully influenced we all are by the perceptions of others. In a sense we are “dancing on a stage” before an imagined audience. We see ourselves in the eyes of our parents, peers and children, who are constantly offering a narrative about our every thought and action. The powerful archetypes of the ever-present mother, father, judge, spirits of those past and present, inhabit our imaginary courtroom.
For most of us every decision is tried and tested against these unseen critical voices. Each one giving or taking away permission for every decision and action. What should I study, what should I wear, what should I eat, who should I be with? We struggle to squeeze into a role and persona that doesn’t quite fit us but seems to be demanded by our phantom audience.
What if no one is actually watching?
Theses imagined voices continue to rule our lives, until we breakdown under the heavy burden of obligation and powerlessness. What if no one is actually watching? Have you ever considered that you may just be dancing to an audience of one, namely yourself? I can’t see the point of making choices I’m not really into, just so I can please people who aren’t even watching.
Realising that you are living through the perceived expectations of figments of your own imagination is a real step towards growth. Psychology has demonstrated that as humans we have the ability to converse with disembodied minds. By disembodied minds I mean the ability to remain aware of a person even when they are not with us. This helps us to predict the groups behaviors and wishes and respond in a way that will keep us attached and safe.
This also allows us to relate to disembodied minds created in our own imagination. For example, if you had a decision about your job and I said to you, “what would your mother say”, you would have a pretty clear idea, you may even hear her voice and tone, this is what I’m referring to when I say, “disembodied minds”.
These imaginary minds within our consciousness have a powerful effect on our emotions, actions and choices. Getting back ownership is the process of reclaiming the power you have given to these inner voices. If you don’t have agency to do what you see as best, then you are not really living your own life, you are living the life of other “disembodied minds”.
To qualify this statement, I’m not advocating that you stop listening to wise advisers. You need to hear the perspectives of others, even the inner voices you have formed from your experience with them. What I am saying is, you need to be the final authority on what you do with that advice.
Ownership is so important!
If you won’t take ownership of your decisions and your own life’s progress, then who will? Many people fail to “leave home” in the sense that they never actually start to make choices for themselves. This is a tragedy in my opinion, because it means a person may go to the grave never having made an actual decision about what they really wanted to do with their lives! If you won’t live your life with ownership then you will have to face feelings of resentment, depression, and being trapped.
Dance like no one is watching because they probably aren’t.
Nobody is really watching, lets face it. All those people you think are in your audience watching you dance, are actually much more concerned with their own inner audiences, or even more likely they aren’t even thinking about you at all! Dance like no one is watching because they probably aren’t. Make choices that fit your skills, passions and values. This is a much more satisfying and empowering life to live.
I have found that taking ownership over my own decisions and freeing myself from the pantheon of disembodied voices, is very liberating. In fact, I would go so far as to say that real health is impossible if you won’t take this step. Start to observe your own life and ask yourself this question, who am I dancing for here and is it worth it? Only then will you start to see that this internal audience is the product of your own fertile imagination much more than reality and needs to be treated as such.
So, who are you dancing for?
If this article has got you thinking about your own personal development journey, I am also offering a free 45 minute, online, mentor session. In these sessions I listen to your personal journey and help you sit with and learn from the lessons buried in the pain. These sessions are no obligation and are often powerful transformative processes. Click the link above to book a session or message me.