Most of us have inherited a manual on “how to be a good person” from our childhood- a list of rules we came to believe we had to follow in order to receive love and approval, and be safe in the world. This manual is usually gifted to us by our parents, and/or the environment we grew up in.
For some of us, that manual included instructions like, “Be obedient” or “”Always choose what is safe” or “Don’t inconvenience anyone” or “Tell people what they want to hear” or “Be pretty and always look nice.” These instructions may be consciously or unconsciously ruling your life, because you don’t even realize they’ve been programmed into your mind in the first place.
As a black, gay child, the subconscious instructions that I received were, “Gay is not ok…be anything, anything at all, other than that,” and “Tend to the needs of others first, then, if there’s time, tend to your own needs,” and “Good boys don’t talk back,” and “You must be twice as good as the next person to get the same respect,” and “Success comes on the back of hard, hard labor,” and a few more.
And although these instructions initially come from a place of good intent—our parents desire for us to be safe and be good citizens of the world–as we grow older, they can become a source of limitation, and shame, and bondage.
For me, “Good boys don’t talk back” grew into me not being able to speak up for my needs when someone crossed my boundaries, and being afraid to challenge the ideas or actions of authority figures in my life when they were in the wrong, for fear of not being perceived as “a good boy.”
“Gay is not ok…” grew into the platform on which I believed there was something inherently wrong with me, and separated me from being able to belong to others, and to be loved. And that search for love and belonging led to a sex addiction, constantly seeking the evidence of being “enough,” in the folds of different bed sheets.
“You must be twice as good…” grew into a mantra that fed my addiction to perfection, and the subsequent feeling of failure I experienced when everything didn’t go just right, ALL the time.
“Tend to others needs first…” grew into an inability to say “no” when I meant it, or to take time off when I needed it, or to truly love myself at all.
“Success comes on the back of hard, hard labor” grew into being a workoholic, and believing that stress was natural, and doing work that I didn’t love, and hating my life.
And all this put together created an unwell and dis-eased life for me. But my deep desire to live a well, healthy, and peaceful life led me to take a closer look at the manual that was running in my subconscious mind, and make a conscious decision on what type of operating system I now wanted to live.
I chose a new one, entitled, “How to Be A Thriving, Happy Jerome” with instructions on loving myself, and feeling worthy of what I desired, and being free, and celebrating who I really am, and belonging, and empowerment. But in order to fully run it, I had to uninstall the old one first, forgive it for any resentments I held against it, and then throw it in the trash, never looking back.
If you are wanting to live a good life—one where you are happy with what you have, happy with who you are, and feel connected to Spirit and yourself—at some point you are going to have to take a deeper look at what operating system is running your life, and the ways it’s keeping you from the happiness you deserve.
Then, you’re going to have to make a decision to throw it in the trash, and install a new one.
It’s not an easy process, nor is it always comfortable, but it is totally worth it. And the life you desire, lies on the other side.
And you deserve that life, you really, really do.