Self Reliance by Emerson – Find Strength in your Non-conforming Beliefs

This helped me to re-affirm my inner belief on how I would heal and gave me strength to go against conventional thinking (standard of care – chemotherapy, radiation and drug therapy).    Being self-reliant means listening to your inner guide and finding your own path in spite of what other people say.   You have to remain strong in your belief and Emerson may give you some support!


…….Please be aware that the following summary condenses the content of “Self-Reliance.” It retains first-person point of view to make the summary more readable and easier to understand. Quotations marks surround the exact wording of Emerson.

…….A man should believe in himself. When he has an original thought, he should embrace it and make it known to others rather than reject it simply because it is his own and therefore unworthy. “Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”
…….It is better to exercise the power within yourself than to envy and imitate others. When you are young, you are bold and independent; you assert yourself. You listen to the voice within and express yourself without bias and fear. But as you grow older, you surrender your liberty to society. You want to be like others, act like others. And so you suppress yourself.
…….However, if you want to be a man, you must be a nonconformist. Unfortunately, though, we let others have too much influence over us. These may be men of vanity and malice who take up philanthropic or noble causes–a bigot, for example, who says he supports abolition but keeps black people at a distance. He loves from afar.
…….Many men think virtue is the exception rather than the rule. They perform acts of charity as if they were paying a fine or doing a penance.”I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady.”
…….I do not need or want the approval of other men. What I believe I should do is what concerns me, not what other people think I should do. Of course, it is not easy to follow your own inner voice, for there are always those who will try to make you conform to the public will. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great “man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
…….Conformity turns your life into a lie because in living according to the will of others you are not being true to yourself. To conform, to please others, you put on a false face, smiling when in the presence of people with whom you feel uncomfortable or pretending to be interested in dull conversation.
…….Consistency can also a problem. If you strive to be consistent in all things, you live according to a patterna pattern you are afraid to break out of because you are afraid that people will look down on you. Bosh! “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.” What if what you said today is not consistent with what you said yesterday? Why, then, people will misunderstand you. But is that so bad? Socrates and Jesus were misunderstood. So were Galileo and Newton and other wise men.
…….I wish we could do away with consistency and conformity. Men who listen to themselves rather than to the common herd are true men. And it is true men who leave their mark on history.
…….If all men became self-reliant, then all of their activities and institutions would be better: religion, education, the way they live, the way they think


Self Reliance Theme:


Trust Your Own Inner Voice

…….Emerson urges his readers to retain the outspokenness of a small child who freely speaks his mind. A child he has not yet been corrupted by adults who tell him to do otherwise. He also urges readers to avoid envying or imitating others viewed as models of perfection; instead, he says, readers should take pride in their own individuality and never be afraid to express their own original ideas. In addition, he says, they should refuse to conform to the ways of the popular culture and its shallow ideals; rather they should live up to their own ideals, even if doing so reaps them criticism and denunciation.

Avoid Consistency as an End in Itself

…….Being consistent is not always wise. An idea or regimen to which you stubbornly cling can become outmoded tomorrow.

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