What Holds You Back?

Changing the world is not difficult. It is very simple. It is just a matter of choice. And awareness.

A year ago, I bought a Fairphone. It was a deliberate act to support a company that is striving to source its component parts from places and organizations that uphold human rights, among other things.

To be honest, this generated a fair amount of inconvenience in my life – switching from Apple to Android, with all the complexities along the way (I still haven’t managed to transfer my contacts…), and having as my daily tool something less optimal than what I was used to…

But did I consider switching back? No. Because for me, there is no question that convenience comes second to upholding my values as best I can. And I believe that we live in an age where we have the choice to do so.

We have so much power in our hands.  And yet we usually walk around as if we were completely disempowered. We find it convenient to wallow in our unethical comforts and pretend that we can’t see anything, can’t hear anything and that our hands are tied.

It is easy to make oneself small, and then to blame the government. To blame the big bad companies. The conspiracy of the powerful. Our nasty neighbors who put us in a bad mood, our spouse, our dog…

But we are so powerful. We are so free.

We make choices every single day, every single minute. About what we eat. How we move from one place to another. What we wear. What we consume. About whether we even choose to consume. And ultimately we make choices about our actions, our work, and what we put our energy into.

All these choices send out ripple effects into the world – and these are not to be underestimated.

Unfortunately, we are often held back by self-generated feelings of guilt and by what we could call the Messiah complex.

When we focus on all the things we are not doing, we let our ego keep us trapped in the narrow fangs of our guilt.

It is easy to feel guilty because we know that we engage in choices and actions that have a negative impact on our environment, on animals, on people living on the other side of the planet. For example, when we put petrol into a car. Or when we eat a piece of meat.

If we entertain these feelings of guilt, we slip into a state of disempowered paralysis. Then, we are tempted to stay there, and berate ourselves. Ultimately, we need to understand that guilt is just another excuse not to make a change. Instead, we can use our awareness as a motor for action.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Messiah complex, the belief that we must single-handedly save the world. From this vantage point, a small act won’t suffice, because we convince ourselves that we have to wait for the one big opportunity to change everything at once.

Buying a Fairphone, for example, is not good enough, because the company has still not cleaned up the sourcing of all the phone’s components. Buying organic food isn’t good enough because, oh, we can’t fully trust those labels, can we? We tell ourselves that we might as well stick to our current bad habits and wait until the grand opportunity arrives.

The truth is… we are just fooling ourselves. We must see beyond the trickings of our ego. And understand that this too, is simply an excuse not to engage in change.

I believe it is time we take our inner freedom in our hands. Become aware of our real power. Loosen ourselves from the illusory grip of guilt. And drop the tempting aspiration to wait for our one glory-filled opportunity to save the world.

And then, we can see every minute as a joyful opportunity to steer the world towards the future we aspire to.

Anything less is just an excuse. And we no longer have time for that…

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