Dealing With The Terrifying Thoughts of Going Against The Norm (A Non-Dual Perspective)

How do I learn to trust myself going against what feels like the majority now? Also, any tips on dealing with loneliness?

Q. I found your website today, and your writing deeply resonated with my own journey. While I am deciding to drop complete communication with an entire group of (about 30 or so) people I have been “friends” with since Kindergarten or High-School.

I have changed so much over the years of my awakening, and I realized I don’t have to interact with people that I have nothing in common with anymore.

It is so hard to do, and I feel like something is wrong with me that I don’t want to play along with their game of Social Climbing and Gossip and whatnot. It exhausts and drains me.

But I feel that if they are all consciousness or “another me,” I should not resent them and accept them as they are. I have no other friendships besides this group of people, and it is terrifying to drop the ball.

I have gone through a divorce this year, my dad battled cancer last year, and I almost died from Viral meningitis (my 4th near-death experience in this life) a couple of months ago. I did not reach out to them at this time. 

My mom did when I was in the hospital, and there were three solid people who were genuine who showed up, but the others, even though they “helped,” had agendas and talked to my mom to get info for gossip and power and did not even come to see me once.

It feels like I have been given a new life, and I want to start with a clean slate.

But it is SO SO scary to let go of everything that feels familiar. I feel lonely and doubt myself because a part of me thinks they are living “normal” lives, and there is something wrong with me for not wanting to conform.

I am also scared that I am the one that is jealous of them for having the “perfect” life. But I know deep down that it is fake, and I am done with inauthenticity where you post pics with people on Instagram as BFFs and talk shit behind their back as an example.

For years, I tried to influence them to change and wanted so hard for them to awaken with me. But a few years ago, I realized that people would change when they want to, and even if it is for their highest good, I need to mind my own business and accept them as they are.

But even though they “accept” me and “love” me and try to give me all kinds of advice, there is an undercurrent of superiority and high-school competition to be better and peer pressure. I don’t want to buy gifts for them and interact on Social Media not to be called the “friend” who is never there or is a flake and abandons them.

Anyway, I hope that gives enough background. I have been on a spiritual journey since I was 15 years old, and I have finally come to a point where I am done with anything that perturbs my mental and emotional peace.

Does any of this resonate with you? I guess I am looking for validation that I am not crazy and there is nothing wrong with me.

My question is, how do I learn to trust myself going against what feels like the majority now? Also, any tips on dealing with loneliness?

A. In the past couple of years, I’ve come to an understanding that “unhappiness” of any kind results from seeing one’s sense of self in external things, including material pleasures, relationships, associations, friendships, and more.

When we see our reflection in another person, we tend to create fantasies along with expectations, and we feel disappointed when those expectations are not met. 

Not only that, but we also project our deep-seated fears and insecurities onto other people. The aspects that we dislike in other people are a part of our own personality and reside somewhere in the deep recesses of our minds.

All of these misunderstandings arise from a single thought that “I am separate from others.” This separation exists only in phenomenality (duality) as finite minds. Behind appearances, we’re all the same consciousness. 

The late Advaita teacher Ramesh Balsekar often gave an example of how the same electricity flows through all the electrical gadgets and enables them to execute the functions for which they are designed. Similarly, the consciousness in humans enables them to connect and work together.

You say, “But I feel that if they are all consciousness or “another me,” I should not resent them and accept them as they are.” 

Yes, you don’t need to resent anyone because the poison of resentment will burn you more than the people you resent. Acceptance does not mean that we keep clinging to people who act selfishly.

It simply means letting go of the people who don’t have anything in common without harboring any resentment or hate towards them. Letting go is an act of love that works both ways. So if you don’t feel like communicating with a particular group of people, that’s fine.

The reason why “letting go” seems terrifying is because we invest a great deal of ourselves in others. We derive our sense of identity and self-worth from what others think of us. 

The mind is an escapist. It diverts our attention from core underlying issues by indulging in distractions. By becoming mindful of our unconscious traits, we can cultivate meaningful relationships with others.

If, deep down, you’re aware that people don’t have a “perfect” life, then there should be no jealousy. The more we spend time on social media platforms, the more we subconsciously program our minds for comparison. 

I don’t have an account on any social media platform because that’s not how I connect with others. I like to meet people in person and talk to them face-to-face. 

Most of the miscommunications happen because of new-age tools like texting and whatnot. Our brains are not designed to handle 24-hour connectivity, and social media likes do not indicate a measure of our self-worth. These platforms are dangerous and manipulative. I recommend you check the Netflix documentary – The Social Dilemma.

Please understand that consciousness is the substratum behind energy. The energy may or may not necessarily be pleasant in all situations. 

Therefore, as a part of mind-body preservation, it’s okay to protect yourself from toxic influences. The concept of “oneness” does not mean that we allow people to mistreat us. 

It is the realization that the way people behave is because of their past conditioning. Therefore, it’s okay to disengage with them, but one needn’t create feelings of hate or malice because such emotions are self-destructive. Acceptance is complete when one recognizes the imperfections of life.

We don’t even need to judge, criticize or create any negative energy towards them, for that matter. What irritates us about other people are hidden aspects of ourselves. 

It’s okay to move on. It gives us the psychological space to work on our creative endeavors rather than obsess over seeking validation from people who don’t matter.

Seeking validation is an ego’s trap to perpetuate itself. It is not a flaw, but it’s unconscious. Every unconscious behavior moves us away from our true essence, and the result is suffering. When the awakening is complete, one remains content in the natural state without overly relying on others. 

I’m not implying that you cut all connections and live in isolation like a hermit. No! Human contact is essential! 

My experience is that when we learn to be comfortable with ourselves through spirituality, work, art, or any other activity, we naturally create a radiance that attracts positive people. The old connections and patterns fade off without “you” doing anything about them.

The main problem of unconsciousness is that we want the world to be the way we perceive it through our limited conditioning. We live in a self-created bubble and believe it to be the only reality. 

A true awakening destroys this conditioning, and the acceptance happens on its own. We remain in pain till there’s that little “me” who want things to happen their way.

The idea of fixing others is problematic because there’s no “other” to fix. The separation exists only in mind. The mind creates identifications with ideas, concepts, beliefs and creates its own bubble of so-called reality through a filtered perception.

Sticking to the conventional way of living, or what is called the “norm” nowadays, gives a short-term psychological comfort, but this never-ending cycle of seeking external validation creates a big void within – an empty feeling that is marked by continuous irritation and anxiety. It destroys our authenticity, and we hate ourselves more.

So the whole idea of finding peace in daily living is to cultivate the mindfulness to be comfortable with all aspects of oneself – positive or negative. When you discover the true source of joy within, you become self-sufficient. And the best way to spread radiant energy is to work on your cause without being concerned about the outcome or what others will say or think.

Spiritual awakening is not about gaining something. It’s about losing what you’re not. That’s why awakening is brutal. It’s about realizing the truth for yourself rather than buying a modified idea from someone else. Please don’t take my words for reality; verify everything with our own experience through self-inquiry.

You further say, “But even though they accept and love me and try to give me all kinds of advice, there is an undercurrent of superiority and high-school competition to be better and peer pressure.

Please note that no advice can help unless we’re fully receptive. That’s why I don’t give advice or methods but simple pointers. In fact, the only pointer I have for you is to go inwards and find out the truth.

I’ll tell you a little secret. From your personal experience, you know that trying to change others doesn’t work. Right? Now the secret is that “trying” to change yourself doesn’t work either.

The change happens when you’re ready for it. It happens when you bring awareness to yourself rather than thinking about others.

All the competition and peer pressure that you feel comes from the thought that “I am separate.” The separation creates an illusion that you are incomplete and have to prove your worthiness and demonstrate capabilities to “become” something better than you presently are.

The people who show superiority are themselves victims, and all they do is project their fears on others to feel better about themselves. Don’t be deceived by their outward appearances, as they habitually hide and suppress unpleasant aspects of their lives. It’s all a facade.

It’s futile to think that you’ll ever be able to fulfill people’s expectations. Work on your goals to experience the joy of “integrating with life” and not meet or carry a load of others’ expectations.

The moment you loosen your grasp on such identifications, you become free. Awareness is the key here. The more you become self-aware, the more comfortable you’ll feel in your own abilities without depending on validation from others.

And yes, you’re not crazy! And you’re not alone either! The very fact that you so courageously poured out your heart and shared such personal details about your life tells me that you’re awake. Only awakened people dare to talk about their vulnerabilities. It’s just a matter of time that this understanding will deepen and open your heart to absolute love.

Finally, I leave you with a beautiful quote from Ramana Maharishi that summarizes what I am trying to say here.

Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.” – Ramana Maharishi.