For many, mainstream is like a tailored suit; for some, it’s like a straightjacket. Are you swimming in the wrong stream or against the current?

Mainstream, in this writing, means demonstrating via your life, work, relationships, etc., an “acceptable” model or role model, as much as possible—a model that is allowed some leeway as long as it’s a composite of descriptions provided by the various prevalent social, religious, and educational systems and models, as well as family and cultural descriptions or models.

Stated simply, what you do and how you do it appeases the tribe and sub-tribes—which allows you to feel safe—considered worthy of inclusion by the tribe. It means you’re more likely to receive rewards of approval and compensation.

Be clear, please: there’s nothing “wrong” with mainstream. It has its purpose. Mainstream provides a level of order so society’s “mechanisms” work more often than not. It’s a perfect fit for many. And, mainstream and non-mainstream each have their positive/negative aspects.

Mainstream swimming is only problematic if you’ve always known it wasn’t the right stream for you. You might try to swim in it, but it’s like an obstacle course rather than a fulfilling journey or adventure. Swimming with a “fin” in each stream may be a better fit for you.

Why is this important?

If you’re a more non-mainstream type, you may still be trying to fit in, so you do what the tribe and sub-tribes say you should in order to receive the rewards of approval, compensation, and the feeling you are safe. Feeling safe underlies your motivations. And, even if you have some periods of serenity or happiness and rewards, they’re temporary and/or not as fulfilling as you desire.

If you are contemplating the leap into a stream that fits—or if you’ve made the leap—unless you’ve dealt with your fears and contrasts about being comfortably mainstream vs. fits better in a different stream, you’ll experience contrasts in your life, some of them huge. And, you may not understand why they show up—repeatedly. You may even think it’s because you’re not worthy, not really unique, actually mainstream and just fooling yourself (or lazy, as some mainstreamers may have told you).

This has huge implications if you’re a person who knows you have to be an entrepreneur so you can follow your passion(s) as this relates to the services or products (solutions) you feel compelled to share with others (but apply this to any area of your life). How might this impact you?

You may withhold rewards from yourself—because you’re running a program that says being different deserves a penalty.

Consider this: if you’re non-mainstream and have experienced less-than-ideal rewards or fulfillment while “playing” in mainstream land . . .

1) It needed to be this way so you could discover you’re better suited to a different stream, one that allows you to be yourself—or you need to create a way to merge the two.
2) You may have been penalized because you didn’t fit the mainstream model. This could include comments from anyone that states disapproval of you because you aren’t making a “real effort” to fit the model someone wants you to fit. (Some of those people who disapproved are actually non-mainstreamers too afraid to leave that stream—sort of a “misery loves company” affect.)

What’s interesting about the second one above is that if you received disapproval for being non-mainstream (maybe even told you were a source of humiliation), it more than likely started when you were a child. AND, if your life isn’t fulfilling now, it’s more than likely you’ve continued to punish yourself, deny yourself rewards, disapprove of or criticize yourself—even into adulthood.

Ahh . . . the great quandary: you are a unique individual and you found yourself in a playground where being too unique and not homogenous enough was not appreciated by the majority of your play mates. By the way, you can find or create your ideal playground.

All this is interesting, but what are you supposed to do—that’s the question, yes?

I offer three approaches to those of you who have decided you’re ready to be Uniquely You, as we’re not all playing the same game.

Life: I’m okay, you’re okay; and I can choose to let go of what others think and be my authentic self, from a place of personal integrity. And, I’m so focused on creating the life I choose, I don’t direct my energy towards criticizing others.

Law of Attraction: I match my vibrations to my ideal expression of self in every area of my life, and attract ideal people, events, and resources into my life.

Quantum: I’m an infinite being (creative consciousness) having a human experience, which means I decided to see what it’s like to feel the opposite—limited—until I decide to wake from this lucid dream and play differently. To do this, I created a playground with play mates who read the lines I gave/give them. I create(d) everything in this lucid dream I chose/choose to make sure I have this experience. I understand the true power is not in the scenery, not in the actors, not in the words, not in any material thing—not in the dream—but comes from me. I install the patterns into the quantum field, and I can appreciate what a brilliant job I did/do of making it feel real. As it feels appropriate, I reclaim energy from patterns I created, as they get my attention, and play differently.

The crux of this is, it’s more than likely your life experience isn’t what you desire if you’re punishing yourself (withholding rewards: approval, appreciation, monetary, success, etc.) for being You.

Next time you aim at a target or goal and start to create the strategies and action steps to achieve or attain an outcome, check in with yourself to see if you’re ready to receive the desired outcome or if a belief that you don’t deserve it is rumbling around at a deep level. Use the approach, out of the three offered above, that resonates most for you to move this forward.

Author's Bio: 

Joyce Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach and Author in New York City Email her at to get information about her one-question-at-a-time and Reinvent Yourself coaching options, or to receive her free weekly newsletter. Her books (including “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru”), e-books, and Kitchen for the Mind Topic Bites are available at