A few days ago I had one of my mini-enlightenments -- a SO TRUE intuition that popped into my mind unexpectedly and unbidden.
It felt like it came from a unconscious part of my psyche that is sometimes (or always) wiser than my conscious self.
The intuition seemed really important at the time. Still does. Though it's kind of hard to put into words. Best I can do is this:
Why the hell do I care so much about how other people look upon me? How I feel about myself is way more important than how they feel about me. When I'm strongly drawn to do something, I should just damn well do it. Not rashly; not crazily; not stupidly. But like Davy Crockett said in the movie that I saw so many times as a kid, "Be always sure you're right -- THEN GO AHEAD!" And there's nobody who knows what's right for me but... ME.
This quote says it another way.
Naturally I inquired to the Great God Google, curious about how others had viewed the notion that came upon me so strongly. I was confident that someone else had expressed this don't give a shit about what anybody thinks in a clearer and more comprehensive way that I, Davy Crockett, or Johnny Depp had.
I was right. Among many hits on "stop caring what other people think," a post by one of my favorite web sites, Wait But Why, hit the mark.
Here's some excerpts from TIm Urban's Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think. The whole essay is really good, complete with a bunch of cartoons and illustrations.
Your Great2,000 Grandfather’s Social Survival Mammoth was central to his ability to endure and thrive. It was simple—keep the mammoth well fed with social approval and pay close attention to its overwhelming fears of nonacceptance, and you’ll be fine.
And that was all well and fine in 50,000BC. And 30,000BC. And 10,000BC. But something funny has happened for humans in the last 10,000 years—their civilization has dramatically changed.
Sudden, quick change is something civilization has the ability to do, and the reason that can be awkward is that our evolutionary biology can’t move nearly as fast. So while for most of history, both our social structure and our biology evolved and adjusted at a snail’s pace together, civilization has recently developed the speed capabilities of a hare while our biology has continued snailing along.
Our bodies and minds are built to live in a tribe in 50,000BC, which leaves modern humans with a number of unfortunate traits, one of which is a fixation with tribal-style social survival in a world where social survival is no longer a real concept. We’re all here in 2014, accompanied by a large, hungry, and easily freaked-out woolly mammoth who still thinks it’s 50,000BC.
Why else would you try on four outfits and still not be sure what to wear before going out?
...With so much thought and energy dedicated to the mammoth’s needs, you often end up neglecting someone else in your brain, someone all the way at the center—your Authentic Voice.
Your Authentic Voice, somewhere in there, knows all about you. In contrast to the black-and-white simplicity of the Social Survival Mammoth, your Authentic Voice is complex, sometimes hazy, constantly evolving, and unafraid.
Your AV has its own, nuanced moral code, formed by experience, reflection, and its own personal take on compassion and integrity. It knows how you feel deep down about things like money and family and marriage, and it knows which kinds of people, topics of interest, and types of activities you truly enjoy, and which you don’t. Your AV knows that it doesn’t know how your life will or should play out, but it tends to have a strong hunch about the right step to take next.
And while the mammoth looks only to the outside world in its decision-making process, your Authentic Voice uses the outside world to learn and gather information, but when it’s time for a decision, it has all the tools it needs right there in the core of your brain.
Your AV is also someone the mammoth tends to ignore entirely. A strong opinion from a confident person in the outside world? The mammoth is all ears. But a passionate plea from your AV is largely dismissed until someone else validates it.
And since our 50,000-year-old brains are wired to give the mammoth a whole lot of sway in things, your Authentic Voice starts to feel like it’s irrelevant. Which makes it shrink and fade and lose motivation.
...The irony of the whole thing is that the obsessive lumbering mammoth isn’t even good at his job. His methods of winning approval may have been effective in simpler times, but today, they’re transparent and off-putting. The modern world is an AV’s world, and if the mammoth wants to thrive socially, he should do the thing that scares him most—let the AV take over. Here’s why:
AVs are interesting. Mammoths are boring. Every AV is unique and complex, which is inherently interesting. Mammoths are all the same—they copy and conform, and their motives aren’t based on anything authentic or real, just on doing what they think they’re supposed to do. That’s supremely boring.
AVs lead. Mammoths follow. Leadership is natural for most AVs, because they draw their thoughts and opinions from an original place, which gives them an original angle. And if they’re smart and innovative enough, they can change things in the world and invent things that disrupt the status quo. If you give someone a paintbrush and an empty canvas, they might not paint something good—but they’ll change the canvas in one way or another.
Mammoths, on the other hand, follow—by definition. That’s what they were built to do—blend in and follow the leader. The last thing a mammoth is going to do is change the status quo because it’s trying so hard to be the status quo. When you give someone a paintbrush and canvas, but the paint is the same exact color as the canvas, they can paint all they want, but they won’t change anything.
People gravitate toward AVs, not mammoths. The only time a mammoth-crazed person is appealing on a first date is when they’re on the date with another mammoth-crazed person. People with a strong AV see through mammoth-controlled people and aren’t attracted to them.
A friend of mine was dating a great on-paper guy awhile back but broke things off because she couldn’t quite fall for him. She tried to articulate why, saying he wasn’t weird or special enough—he seemed like “just one of the guys.” In other words, he was being run too much by a mammoth.
This also holds among friends or colleagues, where AV-run people are more respected and more magnetic—not because there’s necessarily anything extraordinary about them, but because people respect someone with the strength of character to have tamed their mammoth.