There are numerous ways that you can quit your people pleasing tendencies. The first way is to stop giving a shit about what other people think!
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We’re all guilty! Virtually every day from the moment of waking up, most people live in a state of constant concern about what other people think of them.
Most people blindly accept the status quo for what it is simply because everyone else accepts it. Would you dare to break the rules? I’ve met countless people who compromise their standards and even sacrifice their integrity just to keep people happy and maintain ‘the peace’.
When we live like this, our actions, behaviours and appearances can become so moulded by how we think other people will view us. We conform to other people’s standards to be accepted, to fit in and to keep ourselves in other people’s ‘good books’.
I once knew a woman who had spent her whole life limited to a culture of Christianity, and although she’d spend hours each week singing about ‘living free’ and ‘abundant living’, the outcomes of her life didn’t reflect the values that she claimed to prioritise. Her reason for committing to a congregation of religious people was that she ‘felt’ as if they accepted her.
It’s one thing to be accepted for conforming to a set pattern of beliefs, actions and behaviours; then it’s something else entirely to be accepted unconditionally.
Living a life that conforms to the notion of what other people think is not just self-sabotaging, but is disempowering and driven by fear which comes at the cost of living a fulfilling and authentic life.
Katy Perry once sang, ‘If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything’, and how true this is. By living in fear of what other people think of you, you stand at risk of losing the confidence to stand for anything that you genuinely believe in.
Let today be the last day you live dictated to by what other people think. Although you may worry about how other people might be judging you, these same other people are often sharing the exact same fears and thoughts.
I read in an online Psychological forum that each day the average person has 50,000 thoughts. Some researchers suggested that number can be up to 70,000 thoughts for some people – is it understandable that with this amount of ‘inner traffic’ many people lose touch with themselves and even with others.
The average person filters the thoughts they have through the beliefs they have about who they are. This means that unless you do something with your life that directly affects someone else, they’ll be unlikely to waste any time even considering you at all.
In Edinburgh, the annual Fringe Festival is one of the busiest times of year in the city, where 1000’s of street performers perform their acts on the Royal Mile, in the attempt of being noticed, and primarily generating income. Although many of them look ridiculous, they genuinely don’t care about what other people think of them.
If you ever have the opportunity to observe, take the time to be aware of what the other spectators in the crowd are doing. Rather than watching the street performers, most observers will be looking around to assess how other people in the crowd are reacting to the street performance.
When the crowd start laughing, they nervously start laughing. If the crowd aren’t impressed and walk away, they walk away also. If there is no crowd watching the street performer, they would likely pay no or very little interest.
Even when presented with a large opportunity to judge another person, most people will generally, still be more concerned about how they are being perceived by the crowd.
If you can recognise this crazy way in which our minds work, you’re one step closer towards being free from what the crowd thinks of you.
You can’t please everyone, and it’s impossible to live up to the expectations that other people place on you.
Even if you’re committed to conducting yourself in a way that’s as integral and transparent as possible, you’ll never please everyone – so why even bother trying?
If you’re not generating resistance against your life, there’s a good chance that you’re not being fully yourself. For every seven people applauding at the street performers, someone else will be offended; someone will be indifferent, and another will be insane. So just be yourself and accept that no-one else will ever see things the way that you do.
You ‘ll never please everyone. You’ll never even please some people all of the time. It’s impossible to please people all of the time, and if you’re totally honest, you don’t even satisfy yourself most of the time!
You’ll always find those who judge you. Whether you’re at work, down at the the gym, taking the train to work or on your iPhone playing Pokemon Go, you’ll can’t stop others from judging you, but you can manage how their judgements affect you.
Think about the worst that can happen to you as a result of being judged or disliked. The outcomes can only be the following:
a) Nothing changes in your life.
b) Something changes in your life.
c) Everything changes about your life.
d) Someone will die.
No sane person will ever lose sleep tonight because you didn’t keep them happy yesterday. Mature people understand that they are solely responsible for their happiness in life, and everyone else is in charge of theirs.
I am not accountable for your happiness in life, and you are not responsible for mine. I learned this lesson the hard way after three initial challenging years of marriage with my wife, Karen (who I love).
It’s not that we argue, because we don’t, but we do have the occasional ‘honest word’ sometimes. I remember having a conversation with one of Karen’s family members who suggested that I should be careful about how I am with Karen, they told me that she is ‘timid and very easily offended’.
Perhaps this was once true, in the past, but Karen’s timidity, her fear and other emotional inconsistencies are, and always have been, her responsibility, not mine!
When I first took my wedding vows, I accepted Karen as my lawful wedded wife. I pledged to love her for better, for worse, in sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, until death do us part.
I did not commit to tiptoeing around my wife’s inconsistent emotions, nor did I vow to keep her happy. Her happiness is her responsibility, and happiness is mine.
Today, as you consider what I’ve written here, I don’t know if you’ve ever fallen into the trap of ‘trying’ to keep other people happy. But in case you have, I’d like to offer you a little piece of encouragement.
If you have a mother, father, husband, wife, employer, employee, brother, sister, child or friend, who suggests that their happiness is in some way, your responsibility … urge them to grow up.
Maturation (the process of maturing in life) isn’t determined by a person’s age, status, position or rank, but by an individual’s willingness to assume full responsibility for their life, their emotions, their happiness and also the way in which they conduct themselves around other people.
Your only responsibility to other people is honesty, integrity, transparency, sincerity, consistency, maturity and honour. Although people might not like you for living your life by these standards, they will respect you for it, and they’ll also know where they stand.
Just be yourself and stand up for what you believe in and know is right. It’s only cowards that do otherwise. Although you might find a false sense of security from the short-lived acceptance that comes from keeping others happy, you’ll never experience the freedom that comes as a result of sticking to your standards, and being true to yourself.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in life.” Winston Churchill
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