Growing up and growing into your own voice is a tricky transition. In trying to move this process along, I’ve become more aware of a few tendencies that I need to leave behind.
I’ve always struggled with decision-making and not always because of the potential consequences, but because I’m concerned with what some people may think. What people? Honestly it could be anyone: strangers, family, friends, acquaintances.
I’d put more weight on what everyone else might think of me than what I might truly want. Of course, this not only causes trouble in the practice of decision-making but throughout life in general.
Unfortunately, if you try to live your life through someone else’s perception of how you should, I can promise you, you’ll run into problems.
One of the many weaknesses associated with living to please others is that it’s based on an assumption. We can’t read minds, so guessing and hoping we’re making the right choice will obviously have a shaky foundation from the start.
People have no idea how much influence they have on you, and their flippant statements and judgments might reflect just how they feel in the moment. It’s up to us to decide on how much or how little significance their opinions are worth. Or, to make it easier, we could just stop putting others’ opinions first and cultivate our own.
Navigating our way in order to do this is definitely possible, but where to start? Let's start with the following:
Stop trying to be someone you’re not. When you’re desperately eager to please, yet you feel you are pleasing no one, you know it’s time for a change.
Taking other people’s advice and input is helpful, but you have to have a strong sense of self to allow your own opinion shine through, too. Get to know what’s important for you, what motivates your actions and what you really value. Other people can be right, but remember, so can you.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize when we’re constantly trying to meet someone else’s expectations. When those expectations aren’t your own, you must question them: Do you agree with them?
Do you gain anything from trying to meet them? Do they go against what feels right for you? From what do they stem? It’s great to strive to meet goals, but make sure they’re goals that you really want, not external expectations laced with “shoulds.”
Attempting to appear perfect to the outside world is a great way to screw yourself over. Perfection is not attainable and trying to show the world how perfect you are will likely make you crazy and leave others unimpressed.
Let go of perfectionism, and embrace the “good enough.” It’s natural to want people to like you, but it doesn’t always necessitate an impressive feat. Sometimes, they just want to get to know you as a person.
Fearing the judgment of others spurs a lot of unhealthy decisions. When this fear stops you from being okay with who you are, a sizeable dollop of “who cares” needs to come into play. A lot of the time, the fear is unfounded, anyway, but we worry so much about disapproval and judgment that it can effortlessly be blown out of proportion.
Dress how you feel most comfortable, say what you feel and listen to your gut. If they don’t like it, that’s just them being authentic and having an opinion. You win some; you lose some.
It can be scary trying to have your voice heard. Maybe it means going against the grain or even just piping up, rather than automatically nodding in agreement.
Confidence will be that little push you need to challenge yourself and attempt to break free of fear. Start small by deciding simple things for yourself and seeing how it feels, or thinking about what you desire and how you can turn up the volume of your inner voice.
Finding your way in the world is a path paved with both mistakes and learning curves. Putting too much emphasis on what others think has only ever held me back. Trying to get others to like me was never going to work when I didn’t like myself. I didn’t have the solid foundation of who I was, so hopping from the expectations and opinions of every pair of eyes I met got me nowhere.
There is a lot of truth in the saying, “You can’t please everyone,” so worry about figuring out how to please yourself.
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