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Earlier on in my life, I came to believe that it’s really important to do what people expect or tell you to do or be. No-one specifically stated this but through interactions and observations, I deduced that you get loved, respected, cared for, trusted, and valued when you’re what others want you to be, which feeds very ‘nicely’ into believing that this is why love and like doesn’t happen or is withdrawn. Me being happy and others being happy with and liking/loving me became intrinsically linked to looking for some tipping point of pleasing others where if I loved, gave, twisted, and contorted myself into a Transformer, I’d be ‘good enough’.
I discovered though that even if you do what you believe others expect or what they explicitly ask you to do or be, you can still experience negative consequences, such as you being unhappy or them being non plussed or you still feeling like you’re not good enough. I discovered there’s no ‘tipping’ point unless you count tipping into some sort of personal hell where you wonder who the hell you are and why you feel so bad. You’ve probably discovered this too if you’ve abandoned your boundaries and sense of self to fit in with others and ‘win’ affection, attention, and acceptance.
It turns out that the best thing in life is to be yourself.
Half the time, people don’t know what the frick they want for themselves so putting yourself at the mercy of their flip flapping ways is a recipe for pain. When we try to be what others expect or ask us to, we end up selling ourselves short, side stepping our values, abandoning basic boundaries, sleeping with people to please them, listening to excuses, being abused, and staying in situations long past their sell by dates etc because we think their actions or lack there of are down to us.
Every time you do this, you’re saying ‘You’re of greater value than me’. You need to be concerning yourself with what you think, want, do, and value. You’ll never feel good enough if the only way to work out you’re ‘enough’ is on the moving goal posts of others.
I’ve come to realise that it’s impossible to care about the opinions, whims, and demands of everyone in the universe or to meet their expectations, which is why I live very firmly by the I Don’t Give a Eff Principle. I’m not about to change how I feel about me, tie myself up in knots, or invalidate the choices I make based on the opinions of the media, randoms, and basically people who aren’t really in any position to be telling me who I am or what I should do.
Particularly as a woman, I’m confronted day in day out by social messaging that attempts to shape appearance, mentality, self-esteem, aspirations, how I parent, my relationships and basically define my femininity. Women are marketed and spoken to via their self-esteem with ways to ‘improve’ and ‘beautify’ ourselves and live up to unrealistic, often heavily Photoshopped images and expectations. It’s like we have to be taken ‘down’ and then sold some messaging or a product to take us back ‘up’.
Listening to myself and using past experiences as a benchmark, I’ve learned a few key things that keep me on the straight and narrow:
Don’t court or internalise the opinions of those that don’t matter and always reserve your right to make up your own mind. It’s fine to listen to external feedback and filter to what’s appropriate for you, but make sure that they’re valuable, credible sources. With your interpersonal relationships, I’d be very cautious of becoming a Transformer when you’re not in a mutually respectful, never mind trusting, caring, loving friendship/romantic relationship etc.
Never sacrifice yourself in the hope that it will create a mutually fulfilling relationship – it won’t. That’s not love – it’s a massacre.
Get behind you and your choices. If you don’t, you’re at the mercy of anything and anyone that contradicts what you think you are or should be or the choices that you’ve made. If not, you’ll for example, read something in the paper, and go into a slump or feel like you have to defend yourself or your choice. A life of second guessing is very insecure. Validate you. Don’t allow others to make up your mind for you because it’s critical to learn to trust yourself.
I’m totally OK with making a mistake and admitting I’m wrong and you have to be too. This ensures that you act in your best interests and learn to recognise ‘right’, ‘good’, etc. The fear of making mistakes lessens when you recognise that you can recover and limit the damage through emotional honesty and action.
It’s impossible to be liked by ‘everyone’ and the truth is, i don’t like everyone and if you’re honest, neither do you. We can burn up a lot of life fuel trying to be the Good Girl/Good Guy and it’s like we’ve been socially conditioned that we should like and please everyone, be friends with exes no matter what they do and try to win over people.
I’m totally OK with not being liked by somebody. That’s a big thing for me to say after years of being worried about what ‘everyone’ thinks. Who is ‘everyone’? It’s like trying to cup the ocean in my hands. Obviously if a mutual liking or loving suddenly develops into one way traffic, I’d be bothered, but I’m not going to worry about someone that either never liked me anyway or who doesn’t value me.
It’s OK if someone doesn’t like you. The sky won’t fall in. They are not the definition of you or the world.
You cannot please everyone. I wouldn’t even try to. When your chief concern is being validated by others, little do you realise how greatly that affects your actions because your focus isn’t living authentically – it’s trying to be what you think others want.
I’ve discovered that being myself doesn’t create ‘negative’ consequences, a fallacy that I lived with for a big part of my life – It’s people being pissed off or uncomfortable because they can’t do as they like.
Never apologise for who you are. You can apologise for something specific that you do, but don’t apologise for living and breathing, for having boundaries, standards, rules because it’s like saying “I apologise for having some self-respect and making it difficult for you to take advantage of or even abuse me”.
Judge people on the quality of your interactions, not the bullshit fluff, assumptions, and hearsay of other people. It’s easy to think they have 10 degrees/x job/liked by this person/says they’re really nice or intelligent or successful and yada yada yada but that doesn’t make anyone ‘better’ than you or a great relationship candidate. How they treat you and the quality of your relationship with them is what matters.
You’re a great person in your own right – your life isn’t a sales pitch.
Go and do your thing with integrity and some self-love and apply your energy in the right places.There’s no tipping point for winning someone over because if you have to break your back for them to match you, it’s like saying they’re worth two or three of you which is imbalanced. Relationships are 100:100. Either take them off their pedestal and be yourself in a mutual partnering, or get out fast before you bankrupt yourself.
You can grow and learn out of your relationships and life experiences, but it’s you that makes you, not others.
People that spend their life seeking validation end up being like walking, talking pieces of clay for everyone else to mould. When you know the line, they know the line. When you know who you are, others know who you are, and if you don’t know yet, you’re worth the investment of some of your time and energy to find out. Nobody will ever know you if you hide your light under the bushel of another person or the perceived expectations and wants of others.
Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .
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- We self-sabotage our efforts to do better by us, because we’re afraid
- When you’re met with the You’re The First / You’re The Only One With A Problem defense
- Telling people what we think they want to hear leads to resentment on all sides
- Some people habitually jeopardise their relationships in order to feel interest and desire
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Copyright NoticeCopyright Natalie Lue 2005-2014 All rights reserved. Written permission is required from the author to include posts in their entirety on your site. If you use a quote or portion of a post(s), ensure that my work is credited. Copying my posts and changing some of the words is still plagarism. Claiming my ideas or opinions as yours, is also major breach of copyright.