Me Me Me, Is Not Me

In western society there is great emphasis on the rights of the individual. Every person has rights to privacy, liberty of speech and expression of his desires. Societies where the individual is valued differently, have acquired a bad reputation. In the case of communism for example, this is a consequence of bad execution, politics, and counter propaganda. Communism, just like individualism, socialism, and materialism however, are all ideologies. Even though, individualism is one of the reigning ideas in the west nowadays, does not mean it is any better than the others. It is just that it’s supporters played the political game better at the moments it mattered most. I believe it ignorant to think therefore, that the individual, as in every person for himself, is what we should cherish most in our society. Definitely, when you consider what actually forms the basis for what we call our expressions, and my identity.

Nevertheless, the idea that every person is an individual, has become so strong that there is a whole construct of laws and rules to protect it. There are fines and jail sentences defined for any person who dares to walk in to the house of a stranger, who discriminates, or tries to change the way someone else dresses.

These values are such an inherent part of our society, that you tend to forget what they really are. The concept of every person being an individual, just like the idea of every individual being equal to the other, was invented by us humans. Interestingly though, they are now the pillars we build our society upon, without them we believe there is no freedom.

As a consequence we conceive that every person has distinct features, characteristics and preferences. Even though, all the things we tend to believe as being part of oneself, are usually not. The country I am from, the education I had, my friendships, and the family name I bare, are all realities kept in place by every single person believing them. If humans would go extinct, there would be no families, friendships, education, or countries left.

Therefore, to believe that the country you are from, your education, and your friendships are part of you, seems incorrect. Rather, everything you are, is a reflection of what is between you and the world around. A creation of our collective minds. Though, our blind trust in the importance of the individual, reduces the probability that you recognize this.

I know, that when I accept I am not me, but a reflection of the world around me, it seems more important to know what the world around me really is. Do I really want to see things the way they are presented to me, or would I like to perceive differently?

The result of this mindset, I believe, allows me to make more conscious decisions on what I want to take in, and what I want to reflect back to my environment. When I stop believing in me as an individual, a lot of opportunities open up. All of a sudden, everything that bothers me I can let go, because it is not mine to begin with. At the same time, everything I deem important I am free to identify with. Ultimately, as much as my behavior is subject to my environment, my environment is subject to my behavior.

 

Neymar, What Do You Represent?

Dear Neymar,

How are you? I saw you play against Switzerland the other day. I noticed your new hair cut. I really liked the Elvis style. I heard you brought your hairdresser to Russia though. He must be having a great time! Too bad, he cut your hair short after that game. Did you think that’s why you didn’t score any goals? Haha, just kidding. Anyway, I sincerely hope you will get this letter, because I have been meaning to talk to you for a while already.

You know, my mind spins, every time I see you play. It seems that you have figured out how to fly, but only when you are touched in the right place. Then, every time you walk in or out of the dressing room, I get to see commercials here on the Brazilian TV. With you again! Who would have thought that would be possible? Well, we all know it’s possible. In your case nevertheless, things might have turned out quite different. I read you grew up near São Paolo, being very poor and all. Most people don’t make it out of there like you, rather they work in the local convenience store or at the McDonald’s.

However, you did end up working for the red M huh? Beautiful commercial with your son. And his hair, so blond! Wouldn’t you like some of that? Haha, just kidding. I was wondering though, if you considered what you are actually representing? The thing is, at McDonald’s they sell burgers, fries, and other processed food. It has been proven over and over, that those are major causes of the biggest killers in the world. No, that’s not Osama Bin-Laden. They are: heart’s disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Is that really what you want to represent?

Then, the other day, I saw that you build an institute in your hometown. Amazing, that you are investing in the lives of the people you grew up with. Providing them with better opportunities, education and sports facilities. You seem to have your heart in the right place.

At this moment I wonder therefore, if you know which people suffer the most from eating the garbage you represent? To make it easy for you, the people with little income. Like the ones in your hometown. So, on the one hand you do this beautiful thing for your community. Where on the other hand, you stimulate the same people to eat glorified plastic by appearing in every commercial with a big red M above your head. Have you ever looked at it from this perspective?

I believe this awareness to go a long way, also because your life isn’t the only one filled with contradictions. I even write about it regularly, here on my blog. If you want your weekly fix of awareness provoking and healthy lifestyle inducing information, just enter your e-mail address on the right here. You will receive my newest blog right in your inbox! Maybe it will help you with future decisions.

That’s all for now. The only thing I still want to mention is; please, score some goals against Serbia, and get Brazil to the finals. As things go, there is nothing worse than being around Brazilians when they have just seen their favorite person in the world fall a thousand times, without making any goals.

Good luck!

Joël

ps. something I have always wanted to know; when you play FIFA, do you always play yourself, or rather Messi or C. Ronaldo

I Am Not A Professional

A while ago I was, through a series events, thrown back into working as a physical therapist. I was looking for a voluntary job, when at the same time a friend of a friend was looking for intensive assistance with his rehab after falling down 14 meters.

Until that moment I had consciously been disconnecting from my profession for a while already. I had been annoyed by how I had to function within the system I was working in. This was affecting the way I thought about being a physical therapist in general as well. However, when I started my voluntary work, visiting my client three times a week at home, this all came around. I was enjoying my time, without time pressure, without a preconceived context, just my client and me.

Further on during our time working together I realized something important. This new way of interacting, working like a team, was as a whole the result of our own efforts. Not how an insurance company or government wants us to work together. As a result I was more relaxed, no stress and I experienced space to think. I was entirely myself, not just a physical therapist, nor somebody professional.

I realized that the professional mask was not fitting me anymore, on the contrary, it made me feel uncomfortable. One person I was during working-hours, the other outside of them. Unconsciously switching between these personalities requires a lot of energy, it was unsustainable.

I see now that being a professional was emphasized during my education. A certain attitude was required in handling people that do not seem motivated. Also, there was emphasis on how to show empathy at the right moment and how to make a person feel at home along certain lines. All of this was taught to make sure that I would be executing my task as “good” as possible. Meaning that I should be able to work with the maximum amount of clients in a preset time schedule.

In retrospect though, it seems that if I would not have learned this I would not have acted the same way. Or better, I probably would have acted differently, like I am now. Is this wrong though? It seems that teaching everybody to be professional during working hours safeguards them from not performing as expected. I know that being authentic in every situation is far more gratifying to me, and if present, another person.

Being professional is an expectation of society. However, I am convinced we were not created to interact with everybody. It is impossible to be of service to every person on the planet. Therefore, it is good there are so many people, because there will always be a match with somebody.

The fact that behaving professionally requires a split personality, might also result in abuse. It might be easier to be one or the other person. Hiding behind the professional mask might keep me clear from being confronted with myself. However, holding back certain talents in order to be “professional”, is undermining.

I do not show respect by bending the knee or rolling out the red carpet. I trust that respect, empathy and kindness are part of who I am. I feel that I do not need to wear the mask of the professional. I think nobody needs to actually. If we all decide to interact the way we feel is right we will eventually figure out the right way for ourselves. Sometimes this will be fluent and sometimes this might be confronting. Ultimately, this will lead to a sustainable way of living an authentic life regardless of context.