"I can't meet you for lunch," says the hard-working professional to his spouse, "I have to be at a meeting."
"I can't play today," said the same individual at age 10 to his friend. "I have to do homework."
From early on in life, most people are taught to think of their lives in terms of fulfilling obligations. They are given orders by parents, teachers, and other authority figures. They begin to apply this mindset to what should be their personal value judgments. They say they "can't" do things really could do. They say they "have to" do things that they could choose not to do.
Falsely framing personal choices in terms of obligations is a form of self-denial. It denies an individual control over his own life and enables him to escape responsibility for his own choices, thus rendering him a psychological dependent on those who "create" obligations for him to fulfill.
Self-liberated individuals don’t give other people the arbitrary power to impose obligations. They don’t view the opinions of others as having metaphysical primacy. Self-liberated individuals view their self-identity as primary.
Most people go through life having never introspected enough to even know an identity apart from their socially defined one. Most people go through life having never lived a day of their lives in psychological freedom. They surrender their individuality, step by step, day after day.
The process begins in the earliest days of childhood and becomes thoroughly ingrained by adultoood.
As teenagers, they swallow and regurgitate the beliefs and attitudes of peers because they want to be popular.
As adults, they fulfill unchosen family and social obligations out of a sense of duty. They submit to and support government restrictions on their freedom because they believe that doing so is responsible.
They are victims of their own conformity -- their passive acquiescence to others' ideas and values. It is conformity, therefore, that one must unlearn and grow out of if one wishes to be free -- and ultimately wishes to really live.