Are you inhibited? What does inhibited even mean? Is it just another one of those value judgments that we use to hurt each other?
What Does Inhibited Mean?
According to the Free Dictionary, to be inhibited is to restrain, to prohibit and forbid. Inhibited also means to act with self consciousness rather than naturalness.
Merriam-Webster defines inhibit as “to discourage from free or spontaneous activity especially through the operation of inner psychological or external social constraints.” So to be inhibited is to lack spontaneity and to be subject to inner and social conventions.
It sounds like an infection!
Inhibition Is Not A Trait
Inhibition is essentially social restriction. It is how we turn people into participants in a culture and economic system. In many ways, inhibition becomes a form of self discipline that can be false. There is nothing wrong with self discipline; however, misdirected self discipline is destructive.
Inhibition is a society’s way of laying claim to our energies.
How Inhibition Takes Hold
Inhibition take hold through numerous forms of social control:
- accepted ideas about purpose
- approval and disapproval
- rewards and punishments
These are substantial forms of social coercion and inhibition.
How Inhibition Is Experienced
Internally we experience social expectations as a wall of some kind. Since humans learn through imitation, we inevitably acquire the walls that are given to us as children by imitating adults. Our brains send us an error message if we go against our inherited “self” or what is expected of us. That means that biologically we are wired to conform.
If your early training was rigid and perfectionistic you may have developed some very restricted ways of living, so you will experience your inner critic taking over the minute you deviate from the script.
Is Materialism Another Form Of Inhibition?
Western society currently devalues some inhibition because it is antithetical to the materialistic model.
In fact to not be materialistic is often considered laziness or an inhibition of the work ethic. Since freedom and materialistic hedonism are linked in the cultural story, people who opt for and advocate less materialistic living models can be perceived as dangerous when they really are not.
Although there is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy life, it can be perceived as mean-spirited to advocate simpler living in a materialistic culture where people depend for their survival on their jobs. Unfortunately, in a world of more than 7 billion, even simple living is becoming a challenge for the planet to sustain. As a result there is considerable tension around issues of materialism, basic needs and sustainability.
But I have digressed.
Why Societal Models Are Usually Wrong
Western society is a great example of how societies make mistakes, because like all societies they have values that are rigid and therefore shoot themselves in the foot.
Western society values, progress, growth and positivity. It does not value balance, sustainability, and health. The mistake that has been made is that our values are directly in conflict with nature, which is an elaborate system of mutually reinforcing life forms and patterns.
Western society, in ignoring the reality of nature, has tried to rewrite the book of life and is failing. However, the societal values are inhibitions against change. So materialism is a form of inhibition.
Why You Cannot Adopt Societal Values
Societal values are a blend of restriction and support for behaviors that serve a certain purpose. The values themselves are restricted to certain outcomes.
They usually have a distorted view of necessity. So supporting growth (materialism) may seem like a necessity, when self restraint for environmental protection is really what is needed.
That is the danger of societal values. They may be positive in some respects, but when they become entrenched, we lose our flexibility and our ability to make the changes we need.
The more we are in touch with necessity and nature the easier the whole subject becomes. We then can work with our needs and the realities of limited resources in a productive way. Accepting reality lets us accept that we cannot have everything, but we can probably have our real needs met.
Accepting reality lets us look for what is necessary and important in any situation so that we are appropriately expansive when we can be and appropriately self restrictive when it makes sense. That is what it means to live naturally, like the animals in the forest and birds in the sky. It helps us be agenda free and fully alive – and that is a great place to be.