Self-Oppression

I would guess most of us know at least one person who threw themselves into the practice of avoiding responsibility for a long period, and how much damage it can cause to them and those they love. At first they complain, then refuse, then actively campaign against being “told” how to live. At a shallow level of psychological analysis, we might say that they have internalized oppression from others and have become obsessed with fighting an internal battle against it. And I’m willing to bet most of us have either been this person, or have been able to relate to it at least once in life.

Sometimes we feel as though we have too many rules to follow. Whatever cause is irrelevant here, but the amount of influence or time it takes to solidify this impression is important. When we reach this mindset, any time someone else, or even ourselves, say that we “must” do something, we feel oppressed, constrained, suffocated. If we let this impression entrench itself over time, it becomes a great danger as a reinforced habit.

So, how to heal it?   There is obviously no way to avoid things that command your attention and still maintain any kind of healthy life.  But, why do we choose sometimes to run from them?  I suggest the answer is very simple: because we have stopped believing in positive outcomes from things we are compelled to do.

How incorrect this is!  The truth is that most things we are compelled to do, or things that add on additional personal responsibility, have very satisfactory results.  Very simplistic examples include defending yourself, eating, breathing, and having sex.  More interesting ones to dissect might be doing your homework, engaging in competition, confronting your fears, having a child, wearing a suit to work each day, remaining faithful to your spouse, or making yourself go to therapy; these things have benefits that pay off in the longer term and therefore require more willpower or intelligent consideration.

If you are traumatized from bad relationships, hurt by your parents, claustrophobic at work (or unable to find it), or otherwise feeling like your options become more and more limited each day… Try and remember the better times when outcomes were good.  Focus on small goals you know you can achieve to rebuild your confidence in positive outcomes, and concurrently you will heal over time.  You do not have an issue with oppression; you have an issue with optimism.  Compulsion (internal or external), like solitude or strong emotions, may appear to be double-edged, but is necessary for a balanced and happy life.