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  • Writer's pictureAlex Planidin

Where are you conforming?

"The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity." ~ Rollo May.

Where are you conforming?

What does it even mean to conform?

Isn't it a good thing?

For example, I see that I have a habit of conforming to the apparent expectations of another person in order to "please" them.

I conform to an idea I have of myself of wanting to please and be liked.

I conform to - literally shape myself into - an individual that is someone I would consider likeable. I create relationships on this basis and then maintain them by keeping up the pleasing.

I notice it in new environments. Harmony is the guiding principle. I conform in order to be accepted.

There are deep needs to feel included, perhaps to feel safe, but what happens when something inside revolts against this habit?

Instead of striving to see things from the other's point of view, what if I asked myself what is actually occurring to me as true?

For example, it occurs to me as true that allowing external circumstances to dictate my mood is completely unnecessary.

It is quite generally accepted that something external or someone else's comment can make us angry or depressed, and I used to agree with this.

I see now that I have a choice whether to let that happen or not.

I'm not conforming to that way of thinking any more. Part of me is free no matter what.

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
Viktor Frankl

I'm discovering conformist patterns within me all the time and am sometimes shocked at how much power they still hold over me - at how I'm still imprisoned by these deeply held beliefs.

So where are you conforming?

Maybe you're buying clothes, cars, holidays, houses in order to keep up with your friends.

Maybe you're spending time in negative conversations because you're conforming to family habits.

Maybe you have assumptions about how your boss, client or partner expects you to behave and they're restricting your self-expression.

Maybe you have created relationships over many years based on a certain type of personality and now find it exhausting to maintain that image because it doesn't feel authentic.

Maybe you’re afraid of being rude and are not telling the truth when it’s what’s desperately needed.

Our habit of conforming is just a deeply ingrained pattern, it's not who we really are. It's actually great fun revealing them and becoming free of them.

I'd love to hear what comes up for you as you read this. If it provokes a reaction, it's a good sign there's something you can look at and let go of.

Happy releasing!

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