Early on in life, I learned that it’s really important to be and do what people expect or tell you. Through interactions and observations, including where I was praised and where I was hurt, I learned that compliance was vital. I deduced that you get loved, respected, cared for, trusted, and valued when you’re what others want you to be. This, incidentally, feeds very ‘nicely’ into believing that this is why love and like doesn’t happen or is withdrawn. Being happy and others being happy with and liking/loving me became intrinsically linked to looking for a tipping point of pleasing others. The idea was that 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/be, you can still experience negative consequences. For example, you being unhappy or still feeling not good enough, or them being non-plussed. I discovered there’s no ‘tipping’ point. Unless you count tipping into a 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.
Each time you people-please, 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 you’re reliant on the moving goal posts of others.
I’ve accepted that it’s impossible to care about the opinions, whims, and demands of ‘everyone’ or to meet their expectations. It’s 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.
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. We’re expected to live up to unrealistic, often heavily Photoshopped images and expectations. It’s as if we have to be taken ‘down’ and then sold 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. Always reserve your right to make up your own mind.
It’s fine to listen to external feedback and filter what’s appropriate for you. Make sure, though, that they’re valuable, credible sources. With your interpersonal relationships, be very cautious of becoming a Transformer when you’re not in a mutually respectful, never mind trusting, caring, loving friendship/romantic relationship.
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.
Don’t allow others to make up your mind for you because it’s critical to learn to trust yourself. 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 you’ve made. For example, you’ll read something in the paper and go into a slump. Or you’ll feel as if you have to defend yourself or your choice. A life of second-guessing is very insecure. Validate 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. Fear of making mistakes lessens when you recognise that you can recover. You limit the damage through emotional honesty and action.
It’s impossible to be liked by ‘everyone’.
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. 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 worrying 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. Still, 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.
Don’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.
Apologise for something specific that you do, a genuine wrongdoing, but don’t apologise for living and breathing. Don’t apologise for having boundaries, standards, a life of your own 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 ten degrees/x job/liked by this person/says they’re really nice or intelligent or successful and yada yada yada. Still, 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. Apply your energy in the right places.
There’s no tipping point for winning someone over. 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.