Pack Mentality

Pack Mentality

You know those times in life when everyone you know seems to be having babies, or getting married or changing careers? All at the same time…

The trend in my neck of the woods seems to be ‘breaking up’. Almost every month, long-term relationships are ending, some peacefully, some tainted with drama, some hanging on via tattered threads of hope.

Some see it as a ‘domino’ effect – one relationship cracks and falls, causing others in close vicinity to be pushed (or inspired) to recognise the cracks and allow the fall – with less fear of being the only one to do it, the only single person, the only divorcee etc .

Or, it could just be that peer groups, age groups, work groups, family groups, friend groups or entire countries, follow collective life scenarios set by previous groups – without a thought other than, ‘but it’s just what we do’.

Once you go there in your mind, it is truly astounding to ponder the extent we all go to appease others. To appear in a certain light. To blend in, even if we think we’re projecting uniqueness via our clothes or hairstyle or choice of music.

Lifelong decisions can be based on what others think, and on what everyone else is doing. In fact, ‘pack’ mentality, in this day and age, is rampant still – as rampant as the plague or a rat infestation.

Common relationship remarks, suggesting this, are:

“I don’t want to say I’m divorced at 28, so I’m going to stick in there, even though I’m unhappy.”

(A decision based on worry about what they’ll think).

“I’ll look desperate if I’m single at 55, so I’m going to stick in there, even though I’m unhappy.”

(A decision based on worry about what they’ll think).

“I don’t want to be with him/her anymore but my family will be devastated, so I’m going to stick in there.”

(A decision based on worry about what they’ll think).

Common scenarios suggesting this are as simple as:

You really want the giant slice of mud cake but everyone else in the line is getting salad…so you get salad so they don’t think you’re an unhealthy pig.

Or as serious as:

You see a group of people laughing and swinging from the trees into a rock pool, alarm bells ring, but they’re all doing it, so you assume it’s safe, right? (I have sooo done this…and continue to learn lessons regarding excitement outweighing danger!).

Or…

You know you want to be a painter and live in a beach shack and you don’t care about money or possessions, but the people you’ve grown up with are wealthy executives and professionals and you could never face your own perceived idea of what they’d think of you – so you remain an accountant/lawyer/dentist.

Sounds insane to me (especially when I read it in black and white) that we can make decisions, big or small, based entirely, or even marginally, on the mere opinions of others. Or crazier still, our perception of the opinion of others.

How can you start to avoid the trap, in order to leap off the mouse wheel and into a life of your own making, via what resonates with you?

Hundreds of books are out there just waiting to help you. Try, ‘The Art of Happiness’, Matthieu Ricard,  ‘A New Earth’, Eckhart Tolle, ‘Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life’, Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Observe your mind the next time you have a decision to make, about anything, big or small. Monitor your thoughts and watch your ego as it produces debates tempting you to align with the opinions of your family/work mates/friends/society/country – for no other reason but to fit in with what they do or think.

Opinions can be useful and informative, but watch how your thoughts frame the sentences and questions to yourself. If they’re similar to the remarks mentioned above, you’re in dangerous territory – turn back now. Your biggest, flashiest, red light indicator of this is,  “I don’t want them to think…”.

Hmmm, if only we had some control over what other people think (smile) – but we don’t. Not really. You may be able to influence this, but, at the end of the day, everyone perceives everything in their own way, to serve themselves – and you will never, and can never, be inside their minds – so stop placing them in first place in your own mind.

Remove the name and relationship of the person who’s offered you their opinion, from the opinion, and think about the information alone. On its own merit, the information should be clear and easily filtered in order for you to decide if you’d like to use it or not.

Combined with the attachment to a person or a group, opinions become muddy and confusing. The ego kicks in, urging you to comply and/or rebel, depending on the label you’ve placed on the particular person or group offering the information.

When you start to realise how much emphasise you place on what other people think, and how completely unnecessary it is to do so, worry falls off your shoulders like water cascading over a cliff.

Picture a broom in your mind each time a thought produces worry. Sweep the thoughts away. Sweep until the thoughts you have only conjure peace. This way, the right solution for you will have room to appear, without having to compete with pre-conditioned, imaginary gate-crashers.

Your mind is your party; make it an invite only event. x

 

 

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