Are You Rebelling Against Yourself?


Are You Rebelling Against Your Own Self?

It dawned on me one day that many of us are still rebelling... like children, yet not knowing why. I was surprised, almost shocked, to find this behavior in myself. I thought I had outgrown it... Yet, when I questioned myself as to the "why" of certain behaviors, the answer was that I was rebelling.

As children we rebelled against our parents, against authority. Yet now that we are adults and are "in charge" of our own lives, why are we still rebelling and whom are we rebelling against? The answer is the same: "authority". Yet we are often the "rebeller" and the "rebellee". Strange concept? Possibly, but one that we give life to many times.

Rebelling Against Our Own Best Interest?

When starting a new resolution, whether a new diet, exercise program, or a new positive attitude, we reach the point where rebellion steps in. Here we are, on the one hand telling ourselves what to do, and on the other, refusing to do as we're told. We embody both the authority figure and the one who hates being told what to do.

We make agreements with ourselves, or with others, to adhere to a certain plan or schedule, and then find ourselves begrudging the time and energy needed to keep our commitment. We sometimes start feeling unexplained resentment towards the person or project with whom we made the agreement.

I started a vision improvement program a while back. It went great for two weeks. Everyday I followed the instructions, did the necessary exercises and visualizations. Then came the rebellion..."Do I have to do this everyday? I have other things to do..." Time and time again I have seen myself repeat this pattern...I start something that I decided to do, then once it becomes something I "have" to do, I rebel and find some reason (excuse) not to do it.

Where does the need for rebellion come from? Is it the need to feel that we are in control of our own lives, that we are the masters of our destiny? Is it the need to feel powerful? Is it an unspoken quest for self-esteem and self-worth? Are we really saying to ourselves, and to the world, that we count, that we are important, that our desires need to be heard, and that we make a difference?

Where Does the Need to Rebel Come From?

Taking a look at the instances where I rebel, I see that these manifestations often stem from a need to assert my independence... to make a statement that no man (or woman) is my master. Yet, ironically, when we exhibit this behavior, we are indeed giving up our power to the person or thing we are rebelling against. We are letting someone else direct our behavior.

For example: I recall that, as a child, I had established an unspoken rule. If my mother told me to clean my room, I would not do so. If she could go a certain length of time (previously set by me without her knowing) without mentioning my messy room, I would clean it. But beware if she dare tell me or even suggest that I do it... the mess would remain until I decided she had waited long enough.

Yet, when I refused to clean my room because she had asked me to do it, I was still giving her the power to control my actions. Her request "made me" keep my room messy; when her action was "silence", then I would clean my room. Her behavior dictated the state my room was in, not to speak of my state of mind. Her request would elicit the response of sullenness and guilt from me.

Rebelling: Trade-Off for Peace and Happiness

In the case of our rebelling against outside circumstances in our life, we rebel through attitudes and thoughts. We end up giving away our inner peace and happiness in response to another's action or inaction. Who's running who?

The only way to really be powerful in our lives is to stay in charge of our actions and reactions. It is not by expressing anger that we show power. Power can often be hidden in silent understanding and compassion. Power can be found in accepting that everyone is acting out their own life scenario, and that everyone, including you, writes their own script. Nobody writes your lines for you. No one decides whether you feel happy or depressed. No one can force you to react angrily or peacefully when faced with a stressful situation.

Rebels Gives Away Their Power

Where does the true power lay? Within yourself, within your choices, within your view of yourself and your world. Where does the victory lay for the rebel? In seeing that anger breeds more anger, rebellion provokes more rebellion, and peaceful awareness brings contentment and harmony.

As for myself, I truly wish to lay down the arms and stop fighting myself. It has been said that we are our greatest enemy... and also that peace begins at home. It is time to put away the rebellious attitudes and open up to the power of commitment to our choices, to self-respect, self-awareness, and the authority and power within.

We can all be winners in this game called life. It is not a competition. It is a path on which we are free to be true to our highest dreams and to the beautiful, powerful beings that we are.

Recommended Book

The Courage To Be Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem
by Sue Patton Thoele.

behaviorGeared to women who too often find themselves meeting the wants of others at the expense of their own needs, The Courage to Be Yourself provides necessary tools to help readers transform their fears into the courage to express their own authentic selves. By sharing her own journey and the journey of other women, Sue Patton Thoele helps readers learn to set boundaries, change self-defeating behavior patterns, communicate effectively, and, most importantly, become a loving and tolerant friend to themselves.

Info/Order book (new edition/different cover)

About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on

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