We have all been conditioned to believe that we are our body, nationality, gender, beliefs, and skin color. We are judged by our physical appearance, intelligence, athleticism, career, interestingness, popularity, and accomplishments. As a result we feel that we have to jump through hoops in order to be “worth” something. We accomplish things so we can say, “See? Now you have to like me, because I meet your arbitrary standards.” And guess what. Those people who “like” you only because you perform certain feats or look a particular way are not your real friends. To them you are just a form of entertainment. They don’t really like you because they don’t even know you–all they know is what you’ve accomplished or what your physical shell looks like.  You are much more than that.

Kids made fun of us in school, and we might hope that they would grow out of it, but some people don’t. Many of us criticize, ridicule, and reject others based on our own judgments of them. Why? Because we fear that we are flawed and worthless, and in our twisted world we believe that if we can look down on others, it will make us look better by comparison. “Well, I might be poor/unattractive/boring/unpopular, but look at how much worse that other person is.” Only someone with low self-esteem feels the need to judge others. We’ve all done it.

Look within and see who you really are. Not your job. Not your gender. Not your race. Not your physique. Not your religion. Not your nationality. The real you: the conscious, sensitive soul who only wants peace, who abhors all the drama in the world and wishes that it would stop, who loves and wants to be loved. Stop judging yourself and others. Stop looking in the mirror and wanting to “improve” yourself. All the external things by which you erroneously define yourself are merely temporary. You will lose your looks and abilities. People’s opinions of you will change. You will incur financial setbacks. Loved ones will move away or die. Then what? If you haven’t found and accepted the real you, then your sense of well-being will be at the mercy of worldly events, and therefore always in jeopardy. This is what causes the nagging fear that we live with.

This is not to say that we should reject our job, gender, race, etc. On the contrary, those things are part of our earthly existence. But let’s not kid ourselves that those things are all we are. We are so much more. We have thoughts, ideas, abilities, and compassion. If we believe that we are nothing more than tiny, limited, needy beings trying to survive in a hostile universe, then that sets a very negative, fearful tone.

We were not created in order to live fearful, miserable lives and then die, because what would be the point? If you feel as though you’re under constant threat, and your life is just an unpleasant series of obligations that you perform in order to “make ends meet” or appease others, then you are choosing slavery.

“But if I don’t make ends meet or impress others, I’ll get sick or hungry, or not be popular,” you think. Maybe. But we already get sick or hungry on occasion, and not everyone likes us, despite our work and social efforts, so why stress and strain? Plus, experiences such as illness, hunger, and social rejection are just that: experiences, not the totality of who you are. Do not confuse experience with being. You can feel great with limited material comforts and social contacts. Plenty of people live happy, peaceful lives without grocery stores, medicine, tons of friends, shopping malls, cell phones, fancy clothing, electricity or plumbing. Well-being comes more from your thoughts and beliefs than from your living situation.

So, do you want to end the cycle of fear, powerlessness, worthlessness, obligation, and striving for approval? Then stop subscribing to the collective belief system that says you must “perform”. You are fine just the way you are. If someone will like you only if they get a particular performance out of you, then end that toxic relationship; quality of friends and lovers is much better than quantity. If you hate your job but do it because it pays the bills, get another one that you enjoy more, even if it means a pay cut; peace of mind is much better than a big house. If you don’t look like those ad models, then stop comparing yourself to genetic freaks; your genes cannot change, so why beat yourself up over it? Peace and well-being are always available, right here, right now. All you need in order to get them is to realize and accept who you really are.

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