Live As If Your Father Were Dead

“Imagine that your father has died, or remember when he did die. Are there any feelings of relief associated with his death? Now that he is dead, is any part of you happy that you need not live up to his expectations or suffer his criticisms?

How would you have lived your life differently if you had never tried to please your father? If you never tried to show your father that you were worthy? If you never felt burdened by your father’s critical eye?

For the next three day, do at least one activity a day that you have avoided or suppressed because of the influence of your father. In this way, practice being free of his subtle expectations, which may now reside within your own self judgment. Practice being free in this way, once each day for three days, even if you feel fearful, limited, unworthy, or burdened by your father’s expectations.”

— David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

On a personal note, I’ve been very fortunate to have a father who has always accepted me no matter what. I’ve never had to contend with the need to seek his approval because I knew that I already had it. It’s the absolute best gift a father can give his son, unconditional acceptance and validation, and I’m eternally grateful to my own father for giving me the freedom to be who I am.

The reason I post these thoughts is that, in my experience, this as a very common issue that men deal with and it tends to be crippling. It’s a simple yet very profound notion, to cut the chord of fatherly criticism and expectations.

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One thought on “Live As If Your Father Were Dead

  1. This is an interesting idea, though I’d imagine for some people (such as myself), it would be difficult to do things that wouldn’t be accepted because the list is so small, and they are all things that they don’t wish to do anyway, or are longer lasting, such as get a tattoo or join a cult.

    I’m glad that my father is the way he is, he’s accepting, but realistic. He wouldn’t tell me I could flap my arms and fly away, but he wouldn’t have tried to stop me.

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