I have always thought I understood the concept of “living outside of the box”. We’ve all said and heard this expression at one time or another. Take a risk! Get creative! That was my understanding and I suppose that it is, more or less, what is being implied. I discovered recently that unless you know what the box looks and feels like it’s almost impossible to even begin to find your way out of it and chances are you’ll just run smack dab into the wall of another box even if you do!
Martha Beck, in her book, Finding Your Own North Star, describes these boxes in another way. She suggests we consider whether or not we are living according to our inner guide, our “essential self” or within the confines of our “social selves”. Simply put, are we doing what we want to do or what we think we should do? We were taught many rules of behavior throughout our childhood by our parents, teachers and other authority figures in our lives. Most of them are so much a part of who we are we may never have challenged or questioned them or even considered whether or not we agree with them. These may be the boxes we are living in.
Unfortunately, it is often hard to see the shape or texture of the box until you’ve managed to get outside of it. While we’re in our boxes they often appear simply as a suffocating shadow and they can suck the life out of us. They can make us feel like we don’t want to get up in the morning and can keep us stuck in unhappy relationships and situations. If you’re feeling dragged down by life you are living in a self-constructed box. There’s no magic potion, or easy fix, but a little experiment I tried might just work for you just as it worked for me.
Get a piece of paper or notebook and pen. Sit down and start a list. Entitle it “What I Want”. Begin writing. Chances are you may run into a wall that says “but….I can’t have that because…” Ignore that comment and remind yourself that this is just a list of words on a piece of paper. You’re not obligated in any way to obtain or do what is on the list. Take as long as you want to generate this list. Add new things to it every day for as long as you like, but at least until you start to find it an enjoyable process. Get into that enjoyment. Let your spirit soar with possibility. When you’re really reveling in your list and feeling the excitement it brings it’s time to take note. This is your essential self. This is who you were meant to be. Now go make it happen!