Voted BEST OF THE COAST 2023, 2021 & RUNNER UP 2022!

Dogma: Living with the results of other people’s thinking

living dogma free

Hot damn if that definition by Steve Jobs doesn’t hit all the feels, am I right? As one who grew up with all kinds of dogma, most commonly religious in nature, I stopped dead in my tracks when this came across my feed a few years ago. The complete quote goes like this:

Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. And don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

As I sat and processed, I realized he was so right.

Most of us equate dogma with rules. A code of conduct based on a communal set of beliefs which varies from group to group. However, when broken down further, we see a painful pattern emerge where men and women live in boxes never designed for them. It is then completely logical for all sorts of dis-ease to arise, including existential anxiety and depression, not to mention a whole range of somatic symptomology too.

I genuinely believe that the vast majority of humanity’s struggle can be summed up in the gap between each person’s ideal life that is totally authentic to him or her and his or her present reality. 

In my own experience, I have seen this played out in my religious upbringing, then a series of long-term “responsible” yet unsuccessful relationships, and more recently, a shit ton of fear-mongering in my chosen field of psychotherapy.

The core message many of us internalized was “you’re too much of most things and never enough of other things.”

what is dogma?

Dogma kept me small
Always looking for signs of disapproval in others’ eyes

Dogma gave me illusory ceilings
It told me you can only go so far

Dogma kept me isolated
A million friends but the sphere was as shallow as it was wide

Dogma gave me boredom
A restlessness that couldn’t be quenched

There was fear in the shaking loose
Trepidation at the unknown
But when the cry of my heart finally pierced the veil
It wasn’t to be ignored

I leapt
And freedom caught me.

(my own words in a journal several years ago)

Are YOU living with the results of other people’s thinking?

Then you are living someone else’s life.  Sure, it may look GREAT on paper, but inside, it feels like someone has snuffed out the very spark of your soul.

Aren’t you tired of this shit yet??

Come join me on the other side of fear – where purpose and passion reawaken!

Here are some tips to help:

Contemplate (and better yet, journal about) what it would be like to live wildly authentic and nothing else.

What activities might you no longer be a part of? Which ones might you want to start?

– Which relationships may need to shift or even end?

Start paying more attention to your body’s natural automatic reactions.

What does your YES feel like? 

How about your NO?

(Here’s a hint: the body tends to inherently lean forward when you say, “YES” and pulls back when you say, “NO.” Test it by standing with your eyes closed and saying each word aloud to yourself or ask your friends to do it and just watch.)

Our bodies consistently give us what we call biofeedback in real time, but most of us never slow down long enough to notice. Headaches, muscle tension, butterflies in the pit of our stomach, nausea… you name it, can all be very real signs your body is trying to tell you NO!

Give yourself permission to follow your OWN intuition. 

What if, just for today, I allowed myself to enjoy something just because I enjoy it?

– What if, just for today, I held back before automatically responding others’ requests of me and checked in with myself first?

– What if, just for today, I treated myself as the expert on my life and didn’t ask anyone else for permission for anything but rather only consulted with others on a need to know basis?

Imagine yourself on your death bed.

– If nothing changed in your life between now and then, would you feel satisfied?

– Consider adding your “incarnation date” to your daily journal (aka, how many days old you are). Calculate that here. How will you make THIS day count?

Think about it, most humans get less than 80,000 days on this earth. So if you’re aware that you’re on day #_____, it really helps keep shit in perspective. As one of my faves, Tara Brach, would say, “There’s no time to rush” i.e., slow down and savor all the good moments throughout your day, but I would also add, “There’s no time to waste either.”

All those people telling you how you should live will likely not be with you when it comes time to close the book on this incarnation, so why keep them in the driver’s seat?

There’s no time to rush yet no time to waste!

And if you could use a little help along this journey of radical autonomy, let’s talk.  I’d be honored to serve as the rocket fuel for your soul. Learn more at:

About the author:

Tamara Powell, LMHC is a licensed therapist, university psychology instructor, and empowerment coach who believes life should be lived as a journey that is “anything but ordinary.

Her work is specialized to help individuals break free from toxic cycles of distress, dysfunction, and dissatisfaction with life that are created when trying to live according to someone else’s rules. Only by living what she calls radical autonomy, can one obtain soul nourishing relationships and a sense of true life purpose and inner peace.

If you’re interested in working with her, either in person or online, you can learn more about her services here.

  1. Emily Hadden

    Emily Hadden

    July 12, 2018 at 3:04 pm -

    Thank you for this article, Tamara. I found it very helpful, it was exactly what I needed to read this morning. ❤️

    1. Arya_Therapy_Services


      July 13, 2018 at 11:11 am -

      Hey Emily! I’m so glad to hear it resonated hon. 🙂 This one is near and dear to me both clinically and personally. Much love! – Tamara

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*