The Terrible Price of Conformity

All kinds of people push conformity. But why? Fitting in may sound harmless, but it leads to all kinds of misery. We need to talk about this.

Teachers praise “fitting in” as a form of crowd control, pointing to the most passive kid in the room as the standard of model behavior. Warping the hearts of children is just so much collateral damage and not important.

Other kids join in because it’s what kids do as they try to figure out what they have going for them and if they’re going to be able to make something good of life. Coercing other kids to see them as the norm makes them feel less weird.

Parents, unfortunately, join the game. Passive kids seem to take less time and a whole lot less effort. Well, I hate to be the one to break the news, but parenting is all about effort and inconvenience Teaching our kids passive conformity turns out badly.

The Bible, to drop the big-bomb name, says we’re not supposed to fit in. God custom-designed each of us to be originals. Our uniqueness is the square peg that doesn’t fit conformity’s round hole. It’s not supposed to.

We have physical clues of God’s plan. First, everybody who is, was and ever will be has different fingerprints. That’s not news. But now there’s something called quantum biofeedback that can restore the body’s natural balance only because every living thing has a unique energy frequency.

And our matchless selves aren’t just about the physical. Our minds and personalities are also one-of-a-kind, giving us fabulous potential to achieve success. Conformity–that is, fitting in–puts a lid on our possibilities, crimps our self-esteem and charges a fearsome price in health and happiness.

When we accept the fact we’re meant to be originals, not copies, we can start to uncover the gifts and talents planted in us. We can move toward our purpose, the reason we’re alive.

Otherwise, we deny what could be and settle. We go along with the crowd, even when we shouldn’t.

Perhaps your teenager is out with friends who decide to break the law. The only way to fit in is to join them–and fitting in is the thing to do, right?

Same with the dare to chug a bottle of liquor. Hey! What’s the point of worrying about alcohol poisoning when you can look cool?

Or your daughter consents to sex to be part of the crowd. No matter that she’s totally unprepared for the emotional consequences that will stay with her forever. And it’s not all about hormones. Movies, TV, schools, pretty much everywhere you look, put on the pressure like you can’t believe.

Perhaps conformity means slip-sliding through school without trying. Or letting other people make our choices.

There’s a price to pay for not “fitting in.” Pay the price, live long and prosper.

Life never gets good for conformists. They stifle their dreams and stuff their hurts. They worry more about the opinions of others than about living a life that nourishes them.

You’ll recognize them, of course. They’re the frustrated folks who constantly criticize and never praise. Who always keep score to make sure nobody else, no matter how deserving, gets something they don’t. Who spend their time backstabbing anybody they can’t control. Who spread their lostness, their unacknowledged anger, into every life they touch.

That’s where conformity ends up. It’s a lousy place. Don’t go there.

Bette Dowdell

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