Monday Musings Part Twenty-two: Herd Animal
Human beings are herd animals and, for this reason, can find it difficult to go against the crowd. To step out on your own can feel daunting at best. It can also liberate you.
Today’s musing also ties in with Musing Two, Be A Nobody and Musing Eighteen, Life Before Death (‘Listen to your small inner voice; it’s who you truly are.’). Often, our inner prompting will urge us to go against the majority opinion/perspective.
Research shows that we, just like other animals, are most likely to exhibit herd behavior at any time we feel threatened, which includes unsure, nervous, etc. Quite unconsciously, we look to others to show us the way. Unfortunately, this usually leads to the blind leading the blind.
Some of us, in fact, suffer so acutely from even the thought of separating ourselves from the group that we cannot cope with public speaking; with being singled out from the herd.
However, whether we feel settled or disturbed, it is essential that we not let the noise of others drown out our inner voice. Sometimes, that voice speaks loud and clear, and at others, it can be no more than the subtlest of nudges in our gut. More than likely, we won’t have a logical reason for such prompting, just a strong sense of direction.
It takes courage to listen to that prompting without relying on rational thought even when it takes us in a socially expected/approved direction. How much more so when it drives us toward a totally other course.
How do we know if it’s simply our conditioning driving us or whether we are hearing that small inner voice? The best way of checking is to sit quietly and meditate upon it for a while, and ask your question three times. Don’t have a set answer that you expect, but be open to whatever presents itself instead. Try asking both sides: the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ and see which one you feel most drawn toward.
The more you train yourself in mindfulness of your thoughts, habitual stories, and ways of reacting, the more you will become aware when your conditioning attempts to wrest control from you.
Strive for nothing and be nothing. This not only brings peace and contentment but also allows that still small voice to fill your whole being. When we stop caring so much about what people think, then we achieve a liberated and happy existence and can more readily follow the prompting of our heart.
Of course, we want to keep an ear open for feedback from those we trust; however, we need to own our lives and take responsibility for our choices and actions.
In the wise words of Zen:
‘Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.’
If you’ve missed my previous Monday Musings, you can find the links here: https://www.harmonykent.co.uk/category/monday-musings/