The following is an excerpt from the new book from John Vibes & Derrick Broze, Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, The book will be available for purchase and download April 15, 2016.
By: John Vibes
This article first appeared at TrueActivist
It is a difficult task to live in this world and remain immune to the detrimental effect which mainstream culture has on one’s self-esteem. Even the tyrants who themselves destroy people’s self-esteem by violently imposing their will on others must live a life of mental discomfort because they are demoralized by their own actions and the world that they create.
From the moment we begin to observe the world as children, everyone around us seems so big and intimidating that we give their opinions and beliefs an undue amount of credit and sway over our decisions and opinions. In short, we give others power over us. Since our early years are so vital to our mental development and the formation of our worldview, we carry this tendency to unquestionably submit to authority throughout our entire lives.
As we grow up, various “authority” figures subject us to daily, if not hourly, judgments on our value in the community and our moral integrity. These authority figures can be found at home, at school, and in the larger society. The authorities are constantly working to undermine the self-esteem of the general population, by making these judgments and treating those in their care like second class citizens. It is not necessarily the fault of the individuals who end up in these positions of authority, as they are merely passing along the oppressive cultural norms that were forced onto them at one time or another. This does not mean that these individuals are not responsible for their actions but that they are merely a symptom of a larger problem, not the root cause.
In a world where we are constantly forced to engage with people who have complete control over us, especially from a young age, it becomes very difficult to develop any self-confidence, and the idea of living free and independent can seem absolutely horrifying to some. The rise of centralized government schooling in the past 200 years has accelerated this process by treating people like toddlers well into adulthood, causing many to develop with immature and dependent personalities.
For the most crucial years of our development we are constantly getting the message that our thoughts, ideas, desires, fears, and disagreements are completely unimportant. We learn that our needs and our opinions are secondary to people in authority who are not to be questioned and who have the ability to punish or exile you at any time. This is an incredibly scary and traumatizing situation for any child, even if the repercussions are not immediately felt or seen.
These scars are then carried into adulthood, and eventually create very serious problems in the real world by causing people to act violently and irrationally, or at least make them completely miserable and obedient. Individuals who do not value themselves are often nihilistic and apathetic to changing the world for the better. Those who are lacking in personal power are also less likely to pursue radical solutions outside the accepted forms of resistance (partyarchy, voting, etc).
These are legitimate traumas that need to be recognized and worked out by everyone. The predominant culture of the Western world could easily be seen as “primitive”, a place where we are subject to expectations and standards that we should not have had forced upon us. In most cases the expectations are impossible to fulfill, and in many cases are completely pointless and diametrically opposed to the individual’s self-fulfillment. Realizing these simple facts is the first step in repairing one’s self-esteem after being beaten down by an authoritarian, soul destroying culture.
Far too many of the world’s people feel inadequate and insignificant because they don’t match up with the unrealistic and insane expectations that are set by the mainstream culture. Forget about those expectations and forget about those standards, they are no good for anyone and they are not a true measure of your worth. Using arbitrary traits like wealth, status, and appearance as social measurements is a recipe for disaster as it degrades human beings and sets false ideals of self-worth. It’s difficult to gauge the value of someone’s life by external factors, but if we must be judged, it should be according to our actions and how we treat those around us, not the superficial standards of the mainstream culture.
This article (Reclaiming Your Self Esteem In An Age Of Confusion) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.
This article first appeared at TrueActivist