Everywhere in chains…

‘Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains’ – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I hear mine rattling all the time – big, heavy, rusty, noisy old things, each burdensome link forged from the layers of collective ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ preached with well-meaning solidarity by the holy trinity of family, culture and society I grew up with.

It’s not that I consciously pay deliberate attention to them all now, more that having internalised all those messages from birth, having stored them away in my subconscious over the years, I now have no way of telling where the essential me ends and where the social adaptation and cultural conformity begins – we’re all kind of merged together, entwined. And that’s the problem with all these internalised messages – they’re in you, they become part of you, habitual and ritualised, even though they’ve not actually originated from you at all, and many may in fact be at odds with your natural-born feelings…

So with all these ‘ought’ and ‘should’ and ‘always’ and ‘never’ rules playing over and over in my head all the time, limiting my decision-making from deep within my psyche, perhaps it’s no wonder I feel so closed in, squashed down, confused and ambivalent about so much in life.

As the years pass I’m slowly realising just how much I’ve repressed and restricted my own physical freedom in life. Yes, I’m an adult, and in many ways I am free to choose my own path – but if I want to be accepted, ideally it has to be this particular path, or maybe even this one at a push, but that path definitely leads to being ostracised and outcast… so I may have been born physically free, but nevertheless I still go everywhere in life dragging my mental chains with me…

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