If your mind has gotten dull and you just aren't as sharp as you used to be, you aren't getting old or dumb; it's just that your authentic self is getting buried. It's fighting for air. If your emotions are marked by cynicism, apathy, hopelessness, and a lack of optimism, it is because you have abandoned yourself and what matters to you. If you are choosing what you do, what you think about, and put at the top of your priority list based on what you think others expect instead of what matters to you, then you have the "fictional infection." Your authentic self has been infected with a lot of nongenuine living that has ignored who you are and has created a fictional self instead.
Ignoring who you truly, authentically are can literally be killing you. Yes, I said "literally." If you are ignoring who you really are, your entire "system" is so distressed that it will wear out, and you will be old beyond your years. Forcing yourself to be someone you are not, or stuffing down who you really are, is incredibly taxing. It will tax you so much that it will shorten your life by years and years. I wonder how many obituaries in the newspaper should actually read something like:
"Jackson, Robert. Mr. Robert Jackson died yesterday of complications from doing a lifetime of crap that he didn't really want to do. His condition was further complicated because he also failed to do much, if any, of what he did want to do. Experts report that he died from cramming someone else's idea of life into his body, his brain, and his life. Attempts by Mr. Jackson to fill the voids with work, cars, excessive eating, alcohol, three wives, two thousand rounds of golf, and meeting everyone else's expectancies but his own, were dismally unsuccessful. Unfortunately, this all took so much out of Mr. Jackson that he was just worn flat out and died about twenty years too soon. Miserable in his last years, he passed unpeacefully yesterday at his home. He was surrounded by colleagues from the job he hated, and family members who were all just as miserable as he was."
Okay, that was kind of smart-ass, but I'm not kidding here. Medical experts tell us we can lose as many as fourteen years from our life expectancy by living the kind of prolonged stress I'm describing. This is why I am telling you, you are playing with fire here.
So if I am right, how did all of this happen? Obviously, nobody slipped you a stupid pill, and you aren't some moron who should be in an institution. You just got caught up in this runaway train we call life. You just got used to not being excited. Across time, it got easier to tell yourself no than it was to tell someone else no. You very likely got some programming that taught you that it was selfish to focus on you. That programming, of course, came from a bunch of other people who would a whole lot rather you focus on them and what they want, instead of you and what you want. Duh!
Now if, on the other hand, you are excited about something in your life every day, feel really good about who you are and what you are doing, you are very likely living consistently with your authentic self. If you are often peaceful and fulfilled and feel like you are in touch with and focused on your mission and purpose for being in this world, then you are living in concert with who you really are.
Let me tell you what I would wish for you to be thinking and saying now, during, and after you read this book:
"Hey, wait a minute here. Screw the expectancies; screw living for everyone else. They (whoever 'they' are) don't pay my rent, they don't come home with me at night and bathe my kids and cook my dinner! Why, then, am I living for what I think some ill-defined bunch of people expect of me? They don't get a vote anymore. I will no longer give my power away. I want it back, and I'm going to use it to be me.
Copyright © 2001 by Phillip C. McGraw
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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