Do you sometimes stop and question why you do things or think in a certain way? Imagine you’ve been asked to go into a room and wait with a group of strangers. You’re the last to walk in and see everyone standing by their seats but no one sits down. What do you do? Some part of you would probably question why people are opting to stand instead of sit, but chances are you’d probably decide to stand too.
Why? Because we all try to conform with those around us. This situation is a simple one but it illustrates our tendency to conform to social pressure in an attempt to feel accepted and not outcast ourselves.
Conformity Takes Away Your Sense of Self
The definition of conformity reads as ‘a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behaviour in order to fit in with a group.' When we are born, we’re instantly moulded by the beliefs and attitudes of those around us, as were our parents’ and their parents’ before. But while this is looked at as a moral set of rules for us to live by, it can diminish our true sense of self making us afraid to do the things that ignite our passions and dreams.
You may want to try your hand at becoming a writer but society says becoming a doctor is much more worthwhile so you take that path instead. You want to pack your bags and travel the world but parents and loved ones think going to university would be much more beneficial and sensible.
Even up until recently, hiding our true sexuality was necessary to avoid social exclusion and a limited quality of life all because hetrosexuality was the only acceptable form. This is demonstrating that conforming to ideals and what society deems ‘correct and incorrect’ takes away part of your identity and happiness.
It Restricts Your Happiness
Most people conform so much that they accept living their lives in order to keep in line with what other people think. But the problem comes when a sense of unhappiness that comes from not following your true path.
Most people experience this as feeling lost in life or even described as going through a ‘mid-life crisis’ when they realise life hasn’t quite gone to plan. However, this can manifest as a result of years spent needing to conform rather than living the way that will make you the happiest.
Social conformity has the power to restrict our sense of freedom to pursue our dreams and pops up in the decision process for many of our most important decisions. But ask yourself – if no one judged what you did as a career, what person you dated or married, where you lived and how you chose to live your life, would you do anything differently?
Don’t Be Afraid To Embrace Your Individuality
The main problem with conformity and rules is the demise of individuality and our uniqueness. While many people do live this way, it is still sometimes met with hostility and a sense of judgement from people close or society as a whole.
We live in a world that tells us we need to stand out from the crowd to be successful, but on the other hand expressing your individualism can be deemed negative. Expressing your individual style, opinions, thoughts and beliefs can often label us as attention-seeking or eccentric but who is really setting these ‘rules’?
Learning to embrace who we really are and how we live our life will bring us true happiness we all strive to find and create. Breaking free of the fear of non-conformity can bring more prosperity and contentedness into each day.
So next time you feel you’re making a decision where you contemplate what ‘society’ would think – what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – ask yourself who set those standards and do you really want to conform to them?
Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com
|Simple Psychology: What is Conformity?