Self-Imposed Mental Slavery (SIMS) - A prelude to a full-blown ‘existential crisis’

4/3/20243 min read

brown tree painting
brown tree painting

Self-Imposed Mental Slavery (SIMS) is one of the most restrictive states of the human mind. It is far subduing than any of the physical boundaries that can be put up to stop an individual from progressing. The physical restrictions are right in front of the eyes, can be tangibly sensed and therefore scaled to reach an elusive milestone. On the other hand, the mental boundaries are intangible and difficult to size up. They deal with the human core, the psyche and therefore the existence of a person. Once established, transgressing them requires every bit of human will and perseverance. The less the resistance offered, the stronger these mental cages become and alter the thought process of the individual. And then, finally, when they manage to manipulate the core and become self-sustaining, SIMS is born.

The very nature of ‘life education’ provided to humans takes them closer to SIMS. ‘What not to do’ is mostly a bigger concern than ‘what all can be done’. The dreams that can be embarked upon, the people who can be interacted with, the experiences that can be desired, the questions that can be asked, the routes through which money can be earned, etc. are slowly and steadily ‘injected’ into the minds of the common masses. Furthermore, their professional lives throw them into a complicated maze of guidelines and policies. This ‘job’ world presents the mental cage as an inviting, supremely comfortable enclosure, but with a high current flowing through its bars. The moment one tries to touch the bars to experience the world beyond the boundaries, he is jolted back to the centre of the cage and gradually made to accept the fact that his mental freedom is what has been traded for the salary he gets at the end of the month. Once acceptance occurs, he himself starts to justify the boundaries and even contributes in making the cage stronger for himself and for its new entrants. As a result, he not only succumbs to SIMS but also makes it tougher to fight against. The toughest mental restrictions, however, are not created by education or profession, but by restrictive human relationships.

Relationships based on the two basic foundations of ‘respecting individual freedom’ and ‘accepting that one is responsible for his / her own life’ are the only ones that push an individual to positivity and growth. Except spouse and children, very few other ‘close’ relations fall into this category. Ones that don’t fall, push the individual towards negativity and decline. Living in close contact with someone who at best, exhibits a parasitic behaviour in the name of a mutually beneficial living, creates a mental cage for the individual being depended upon. These mental restrictions push him towards SIMS when for the first time he allows them to change his mindset, according to the preferences that are not his own. Slowly, he becomes a puppet and all his decisions and actions start centring around the choices and the well-being of someone else. So much so that he surrenders his own desires, loses his individuality, and over a period of time makes the mental cage impregnable. This eventually leads to the extreme form of SIMS and needs immediate remedy.

An extreme case of SIMS, if not detected in time, leads to the affected individual questioning the very purpose of his life or the reason for his existence (existential crisis). The easiest way to avoid such a crisis due to SIMS is to not let the mental boundaries strangulate one’s thought process. This can be done by sometimes challenging the rules, policies, guidelines and hence the authorities on unpopular or unjust points. Also, putting self-interest above all, every once in a while, prevents one from becoming a puppet and succumbing to SIMS. This does not mean that one needs to turn into a rebel or an egomaniac. It just means that, at times, it is better to listen to oneself than surrendering every time and eventually waking up one morning with a small but very difficult question - ‘What is the purpose of my life?’.