Since I was a child I have always detested family events and parties. In fact any standardized group activity based on traditions has been something that would get my blood boiling, from group activities in school to spending Christmas or Easter with the family. It was why I quit working in kindergartens due to the never-ending stream of forced activities where the kids each year had to make the same Easter chickens, the same Santa for Christmas and each month there was a new standardized activity based on some tradition. I hated it.
Already as a teen I started opting out of the family events. It was near impossible for me to fake being polite and I was bored out of my skull. By the time I had hit my early 20’s I officially opted out and my family stopped inviting me to their events. I was relieved. I had escaped the suffocating prison of tradition for tradition’s sake. I have never understood it. I like being with people but what I don’t like is the forced festivities where everyone is pretending to have fun and it seems like there is this collective worship of an arbitrary elusive entity (even in non-religious situations). To me, holding onto these traditions with an iron grip is in part what is holding the world in the place where it is in, just like celebrating new year’s which I’ve also always hated. It is so inflated with promises of exciting new things and yet we repeat the same things over and over, year after year – nothing changes.
My reactions towards traditions were so strong that I quickly found a way to opt out. I simply refused to participate. I escaped and I was ‘free’. In the passing years I’ve been able to avoid such events whenever possible and have even been able to opt in when I saw it fitting, for example reengaging with my closest family that is not very traditional and where I thus feel more at ease.
The joke is on me because we cannot escape anything that we aren’t giving direction, that we aren’t taking responsibility for and making clear decisions about. Sooner or later we are going to face the exact same moment/situation again.
This is what has happened to me when being included into my partner’s family. My partner’s family is much more traditional than mine is. What this means is for example that at all yearly festivities such as Easter and Christmas we eat the exact same food, It is not even different food for different festivities, it is the same food every time.
I’ve tried being a good sport but my experiences towards these types of events are so strong that I cannot hide it and barely contain it. Had it been my own family, I would have simply walked out. I wouldn’t have let anyone tell me what to do. But it is not my own family and I obviously have to be civil and not create any conflicts and then I also have to admit that I am the one who has a problem.
I am aware that I am not totally off in my assessment of how we are keeping ourselves enslaved through traditions, but I am also aware that my reaction towards it is so strong that it is indicating that there is a much bigger issue in it for me. And I would like to be able to participate in such events without coming off as an asshole that hates being there.
Interestingly enough, last night I had a dream about being in a class in school and it was the day of graduation or something and everyone was busy doing their tradition thing and really loving it and being excited about it. Meanwhile I had learned how to fly and was flying around high above over their heads in this playful, evasive, rebellious manner. This would indicate to me that there is an element in all of this of thinking that I am better (more/higher) than people who adhere to tradition. At the same time I also see a very distinct experience of petrification come up within me where I feel and experience that these events are a real threat to my freedom, as something that can really truly suffocate the life out of me and force me into a zombified state of being.
What I see is important is to find a balance where one knows when to opt out and when to opt in, when it is cool to stand up and question traditions and when it is more relevant to follow along and be in the system but not of it. I can only do this if I am not reactive.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to develop and participate and accept and allow a forcefully strong experience of loathing and hate towards any social event based on traditions
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to feel petrified by social events based on traditions wherein I feel suffocated and threatened in perceiving/experiencing that the people who enforce the traditions are trying to enslave me to a repetitive life cycle of meaningless repetition based on rituals that have no substance.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize that my extreme feeling of hate and loathing towards social events based on traditions is proportional to my extreme fear and petrification towards being sucked into what I perceive to be a system of enslavement that, if I give into it, will suffocate me and enslave me
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe and accept that I can be enslaved to live a life of repetitive social events based on traditions and that I therefore have to protect myself through my strong experience of hate and loathing and keep these events so far away from me so that I do not get sucked into them, instead of realizing that I cannot be enslaved by anything or anyone unless I allow myself to be – that simply because I participate in them, I don’t have to be enslaved by them
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize that by fearing and loathing social events based on traditions, I have in fact confirmed their power and strength and ability to enslave me and as such that I am accepting myself in a position of inferiority towards them and towards the people that uphold them – specifically due to what I perceive to be a threat where, if I do not obey, I risk people saying/thinking that I am a ‘bad’ and ‘rude’ person and then fear that I will be what they say/think of me
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to use spite/hate/loathing as a way to ‘protect’ myself from what I perceive to be the enslavement of traditions, not realizing that I am within going into these experiences, disempowering myself and accepting myself as inferior to what I perceive to be the power of tradition or the power of the people (especially women) who uphold the traditions
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear and experience that I have now been trapped in the same life that I believed myself to have successfully escaped many years ago now that I am a part of my partner’s family, where I feel like I am back to square one in terms of having to face the point all over again and break free from it all over again, which is obviously because I did not deal with it back then, in terms of stopping my reactions and effectively directing the situation – instead I ignored, suppressed and used escapism, which is why I am now back at the exact same point
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to go into and experience an intense and desperate urge to escape, to leave, to not be here because I am so scared of getting caught in the cycle of tradition and thereby being enslaved to a life of meaningless repetition
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to experience and participate in resentment, blame and spite towards people who uphold traditions and whom I perceive as ‘guardians’ of traditions, who force others to participate in the rituals of tradition using emotional manipulation – here specifically women, not realizing that my resentment is proportional to my fear, where I underneath my resentment and attempt of being strong, feel weak and inferior to what I perceive to be an iron grip that these people have over others
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to experience and participate in an intense experience of disdain and judgment and spite towards women who stands as guardians of traditions and rituals within groups or families, wherein and through which I perceive them as ‘enslavers’ and ‘prison guards’ and blame them for being at fault as to why we are all caught in a system of enslavement, not realizing how I am using these experiences in an attempt to ‘empower’ myself to be superior towards them, to be stronger than them, to fight fire with fire – but never succeeding because I inherently feel inferior and afraid of them
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to define and pride myself of being a ‘free spirit’, of being someone who doesn’t care about traditions wherein and through which I feel better than and superior to people (women especially) who I perceive to be neurotic in their attempt to enforce traditions where in I positively compare myself to them by separating myself from them and pride myself of the fact that “I am not like them” and within and as that see myself more as in cahoots with males and pride myself off of seeing myself more as a “relaxed” person, also through having perceived males as being fed up with women’s neurotic control and fear over keeping up with traditions, where I feel like I am one of the ‘cool kids’ – kind of like the boys at the school dance that act all cool because they refuse to dance and see dancing as stupid lol
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize why some people, and why women especially experience such a strong need/demand to follow/enforce traditions, in how it is perceived as important to hold onto the past and remember the past, in a perception that the past was good, but also within using traditions as an ‘anchor’ to hold onto in a reality of chaos and meaninglessness
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize that it is not the traditions themselves that I am so afraid of, as I clearly see and realize that they are indeed often meaningless and even silly sometimes and how the solutions is simply to assess them with common sense and stop following them when they don’t make any sense, and so what I am afraid of is actually the people who enforce traditions and getting into conflict with them and being enslaved by them – which is the fear of not being able to stand up for myself, that I will be weak and sucked into the cycle of enslavement
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that no one can force me to participate in traditions, and as such, what I am enslaved by in fact, is my own fear of disappointment, of creating conflicts, of being ostracized, of being seen as – and therefore being – a bad person.
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize, that it is the exact same mechanisms in me that makes me fear and resist and resent traditions that is propelling people to uphold traditions – the fear of our society/community falling apart
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize that I can simply decide which traditions I see are relevant/valid to participate in and which traditions are either pointless or even regressive/preventing change and that there is therefore no reason to participate in – but only if I am no longer enslaving myself to fear what others think about me
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to react to and reject in blind fear and loathing any and all traditions and anything that remotely resembles a tradition instead of considering that some traditions may actually hold practical value, which is the practical purpose of traditions; to pass on relevant living information from one generation to another (especially before we could write things down) – such as for example when to plant seeds and when to harvest crops – whereas other traditions that used to be practical have lost their practicality and therefore has no relevance anymore besides holding us locked in the past and preventing us from moving forward
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize that I cannot kick and scream and fight and hate my way out of following traditions and that me rebelling against traditions will only entice conflicts with people who uphold traditions, as my rebellion may trigger their fear of losing traditions – and so I realize that I have a responsibility to not react towards traditions, but to assess them critically within common sense and assist others to do the same
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to think, believe and experience that I have to stand up against people who I perceive try to force me to be/behave a certain way that I see no reason for, not realizing that I am within that perceiving them as a threat and thereby think I have to ‘fight’ them, where I fear going into a conflict with them, instead of simply assessing when it is common sense to say no to a tradition and when it is practical and common sense to go along with it, even if I see that it is nonsensical
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to think and believe that if I adhere to a tradition that I see is nonsensical then I am automatically compromising myself when this is in fact not so, as I can make the directive decision based on assessing what is best within the moment, to go along with something even though I don’t agree with it – or it would be impossible to live or exist or co-exist with other people in this world
When and as I see that I am reacting towards a tradition by becoming angry, resentful and judgmental and loathing – I stop and I breathe.
I realize that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with traditions as such, as some traditions makes sense in how information is passed one from one generation to the next. I realize that the problem comes when we are living and acting out in traditions ‘just because’ where we’re living traditions that’s outdated and no longer relevant and that then holds us back because we by living them can’t move on and create something new. I realize that another problem comes when we stubbornly hold onto traditions without questioning why we are adhering to them and when they give us a sense of emotional comfort as an anchor in a world that we deep down fear to be meaningless and chaotic.
I commit myself to make a critical assessment when I am presented with a tradition as to whether it is a valid tradition (such as sowing seeds in spring), whether it is archaic and outdated or whether no one even remembers why there is the tradition anymore – and accordingly decide how to act, based on looking at the entire context I am in, as to whether this is a tradition that ought to be challenged and questioned, a tradition that is compromising/potentially harmful/regressive or whether it is a commonsensical tradition or simply a moment where it is best to go along even if I see the tradition is nonsensical.
I found this blog on tradition where the author posted a cool manual to assess which traditions to follow and which traditions to not follow.
Find the reason behind the tradition
Behind every tradition there must be an origin and reason. Research it, even if quickly, and find out why so as not to blindly follow a practice.If you agree with the reason, by all means follow it. If not, then you can make a choice.Either way, an informed decision is better than being led by the blind.
- Decide how you would like to diverge, if so
No reason to be rebellious just for the sake of it either. If you don’t want to follow a particular way, ask yourself why, and how you want to be different.Have a clear idea on what alternatives you would like to substitute the tradition with.
- Trust in your reasons
People might doubt your judgment, question your actions, and even criticize you as a result. Ignore them.Do what you believe is right for you.
- Explain to those affected
Inevitably, people around you could be affected and might not feel entirely happy with your decisions. Keep calm. Explain to them your rationale behind and hope they will understand, and if they don’t, well, it’s not anybody’s fault.Maintain communication to facilitate understanding and exchange of ideas amicably.
- Just do itThen of course, heed to your decision.
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