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Break Free from the Prison of Conformity

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When Miriam was growing up into a teenager, she craved to fit in. She submitted to peer pressure to conform to the norms of the group. Just to have a date, she would go out with guys she didn't like. Although she loved art, she took home economics in high school because it was expected. When she tried to stand out and show her creativity, she was accused of showing off and faced criticism and derision from her family.

Maturing into adulthood, Miriam brought those painful lessons into her personal and professional life and she complied what others wanted. But her desire for approval, and submitting to be average, didn't give her the opportunity to thrive or explore her talents. She became more and more unhappy.

It can be less stressful to conform, because you don't have to make decisions for yourself. You follow along with the herd. When you yield to others ideas, you allow them to set your agenda. You're accepting their goals and vision as your own and abdicating your potential so that you avoid attention. For many people, this is fine. They're content to set themselves on autopilot and sleepwalk through life. It frees them to spend their energy on family, hobbies and activities that they enjoy.

But if you're pursuing a dream, or want to fulfill your potential, conformity breeds mediocrity. You do just enough to get by, and fall back onto what's worked before, even if the situation is different. Although it's important to utilize proven methods to make things easier, blindly relying on old ideas stifles innovation and progress.

Eventually, the discomfort of conforming became too strong for Miriam. She decided to be authentic, follow her own path and take art classes. It wasn't easy. Although some of her friends encouraged her, loved ones tried to convince her to retreat back into what they wanted her to be. They were uncomfortable with this new person who didn't accept their authority over her.

It takes courage to break free of conformity. You may face opposition from the environment, colleagues, friends or loved ones, as Miriam did. They know how to relate to the old you. The new person doesn't fit their ideas of who you are or who they want you to be. They may object and try to pressure or manipulate you to return to what they expect you to be.

As you reject conformity, you may feel the world is against you, because difficulties may rise up. The problems are caused by your subconscious being concerned for your wellbeing. Old habits and ideas are working their way to the surface to be acknowledged and released. Persist, and the challenges will begin to melt away.

As you leave conformity behind, you reclaim your authenticity. You start to make your own decisions, are accountable for them and follow your own agenda. It's more important for you to be true to yourself than to accommodate others and make them comfortable. This also means you establish and live by standards that are right for you. For instance, if you resent your brother using your garage for his storage, you give him a time limit to find another facility.

As a result of Miriam turning her back on conforming to what others expected of her, she became a successful artist. Not only did she work in watercolor, but the lessons she'd learned in home economics allowed her to become a fabric artist. In her new life, she was finally able to thrive.

Conforming doesn't allow you to evolve into the person you want to be or are destined to be. It constricts and restricts you to the prison of other's expectations. To fully thrive and pursue your dreams, you have to risk becoming more authentic. It means a big shift for you, but you are rewarded by becoming fully and completely your own person.

Copyright © 2009-2018 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

As a vision strategist, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart helps women entrepreneurs who feel stuck, immobilized and overwhelmed to gain clarity, focus, and get back in control so they're able to accelerate to the next level of their business. Sign up for her FREE guide, "Take Control of Your Day," at can contact her at or 928-600-0452.

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