As a rebel, it’s surprisingly easy to actually miss the point of being a rebel entirely.
I must admit that for most of my life, I didn’t get it. My whole act of rebellion consisted of criticizing others, being a hater and doing my best to act in ways opposite of what people expected from me.
I wanted to be free so badly that I actually made myself less free by not allowing myself to exhibit any behavior that I associated with the kind of people I was rebelling against. Whatever that meant 😉 (It’s an term vague enough for your mind to start including all kinds of stuff that has nothing to do with it.)
Acceptance Vs. Resistance
If you want to help an alcoholic clean up his act, the first thing would be to actually get him to accept that he suffers from an addiction. If (s)he can’t admit it to himself, then how do you accept her to solve it?
Similarly, if you want your act of rebellion to get you anywhere in life, you’ll first have to accept the situation as it currently is.
Think of it this way: If you want to take people to a different place and you’re looking for the way to get there, the first step will be to start where you are right now. If you can’t accept that you’re there, how do you expect to find the way to somewhere else?
Don’t worry. Accepting the things you don’t like about the current situation doesn’t actually mean condoning them. It means not reacting to them in an unbalanced manner (hate, anger, frustration, aggression, …) because that will not do anyone any good. Especially not yourself.
I’ve mostly managed to transcend such unproductive behavior over time. But occasionally something still manages to trigger me and drag me back to that level. Bureaucrats tend do a very good job at this. They are extremely skilled at making me think “Why don’t you idiots get it?? Millions of years of evolution and you still haven’t figured out the basic workings of life that even my proverbial dog understands???”
But of course in those situations, I really should be thinking: “Wait… We are both human beings. I’m a lot like them. How can I help them figure this out without doing it in a condescending way? Perhaps I should start a blog or something, that would be neat...”
I’m getting better and better at catching myself early when these reactions come up and not allowing myself to “snap” into the wrong mindset though. But sometimes a stubborn one slips through. Thank God for bureaucrats and the free mindfulness training they give me without even asking to file a form for it first 😉
What Are You Fighting For?
If you’re a rebel you have to continuously ask yourself “What is my cause here?” “What positive ideal am I fighting for?” Because if you can’t answer that question, you are just a trouble maker fishing for sharks to blame your own victim mindset on.
If you come up with an answer that includes words like “don’t”, “not” “stop”, etc. You didn’t find your cause. You found the opposite of your cause. That means there’s a big chance your ego is involved in this, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
For example, you may be subconsciously trying to remove all the things from the world that made you feel bad as a kid (I know in my case it started with that). But perhaps when you get rid of that selfish perspective, you can still conclude that rebelling against those things would also make the world a better place for everyone else.
In any case, now that you’ve found the opposite of your cause, you can easily find your true cause by simply looking for the opposite of the opposite (duh).
When you’ve discovered the positive ideals you stand for, you can focus all your attention & energy on that cause and making a positive change.
On the other hand, if you focus it on fighting against the things you don’t want, you’ll make it stronger (you’re giving it free training just like those bureaucrats give me). And your mind will think you must love it, because you think about it all day. So it’ll focus on those things even more, making them more prominent in your life and effectively giving you more of what you don’t like.
How Will You Create Change?
The second question you’ll need to ask yourself is: How will I positively influence the very people whose behavior I consider unethical?
It’s one thing to aim to be the change you want to see in the world, and that should be your number one focus. But if beyond that, you feel you’re ready to take it a step further and try to influence other people, realize that is something that's not within your immediate control.
So to change those things from the inside out you have to think: “What will be the most effective way to spread my positive message? To convince people of the value of my point of view?”
Will the most beneficial way be to vilify them? To judge them and condemn for doing the things they consider normal?
Or would you agree that’s not a very good strategy if you want to get people to listen to what you say?
Would it perhaps be more beneficial to learn to understand their point of view? To come meet them where they are, so you can lead them from that place to where you are (if you still agree with that now that you’ve seen the other side).
Imagine someone had the answer to life, the universe and everything. The key to both saving the world and making everyone love you at the same time. But you didn’t know he had it. Because if you’d understood his point of view, you’d already have it too.
Now imagine that person yelling at you that you are a fucking ignorant hypocrite evil son of a bitch. That everything you do and enjoy in life is unethical. A and that you need to listen to them right now so you can finally learn act like a decent human being.
Would you calmly come to them and listen what they had to say? Or would you feel offended as fuck and try to defend yourself, because you consider yourself a decent human being with good morals?
True rebellion is about the good thing you’re trying to bring forward. The positive alternative to the things you want to change. Not about the people who don’t agree with you on that.
So if you want to be a rebel, before you dream of changing anything, you should always consider:
Do you really stand for something right now?
Or do you merely stand against something?
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