the mastery of love | 2

I considered skipping ahead to Chapter 2 of The Mastery of Love today, but the last few pages of Chapter 1 resonated with me deeply.

In these last pages, Don Miguel Ruiz describes childhood and how our emotional mind is completely healthy when we are born. He discusses the playful, imaginative, adventurous nature of children and how they always live in the present moment – “they are not ashamed of the past; they are not worried about the future.” Ruiz claims our happiest moments are moments when we play like children, when we sing, dance, explore, and create just for fun. He says that this is “the normal human mind, the normal human tendency. As children, we are innocent and it is natural for us to express love.”

Of course, we grow up and we learn the ways of the adults around us. Even if unintentionally, they pass on their emotional baggage to us and teach us how to be in the world. We are taught how to behave. “We are afraid to be punished, but later we are also afraid of not getting the reward, of not being good enough for Mom or Dad, sibling, or teacher. The need to be accepted is born.”

Ruiz says that it’s when we are kids that “we learn that everyone’s opinions are important, and we rule our lives according to those opinions…We need to hear the opinions of others because we are domesticated and we can be manipulated by those opinions. That is why we seek recognition from other people; we need emotional support from other people; we need to be accepted by the outside Dream, via other people.”

I can totally relate to the need to feel accepted. It’s funny because this never took the form of rebelling. I never did things like smoke, drink alcohol, etc. just to fit in. My fear of what other people might think and the need to be accepted came in the form of playing by the rules and staying in my box. I used to be very shy. I never spoke up in school. I never challenged authority. I did exactly what was expected of me and many times, even exceeded those expectations.

There is nothing inherently wrong with these things. The problem is that they were all driven by a very deep fear of embarrassing myself by doing or saying something wrong (hello perfectionism!).

I’ve lived an awesome, happy life, but so much of it has been lived from a subtle underlying fear. These days, I try my best to live from a place of love and confidence, but I’ve recently become aware of how the opinion of others’ can still impact my decisions.

I’ve always feared being perceived as conceited, full of myself, vain, or materialistic. Having a style blog has actually been a huge exercise in throwing this fear right out the window. However, I still notice it pop up from time to time. I’ll downplay a compliment. I won’t take the photos I really want in fear of what onlookers may be thinking. I won’t practice handstands in public in fear of looking like a show off. Essentially, I prevent myself from standing in my own light and doing what I really want for fear that someone else may feel diminished in some way.

Our need to be accepted and placing importance on other people’s opinions can take many forms. But by releasing our fears and our need for approval from others, we gain absolute freedom. We are free to follow our gut. We are free to pursue our dreams. We are free to express ourselves. We are free to be ourselves. We are free to be imperfect. We are free to act from our heart. We are free to shine as bright as we can. And by doing so, we actually create space for others to do the same.

In the spirit of Independence Day this week, I will be doing my best to act independently of both the opinion of others and the need to be accepted. By accepting myself, I release the need to be accepted by others.

Happiest Monday to you guys! Stay tuned for some easy 4th of July outfits the rest of the week!