1. You focus almost exclusively on how others treat you.
If I knew a wise man, I think he would say, “you define you.” It’s a certain sign of insecurity to soak up your identity from what the world tells you about yourself. Each person is going to have a baseline opinion on you, according to the chemistry of your personalities and values and their prejudices. This baseline opinion is not reflective of your quality or worth, but of the aforementioned complex variables.
To focus on how others treat you is problematic in two ways. First, you’re putting a lot of emphasis on things you can’t control. Second, you’re not putting emphasis on what you can control – YOU. You can and should define yourself and let the world take you or leave you. Even the most extreme personalities can find a niche in this world.
People respond well to authentic, genuine people, even if they are odd (We love you, Tim Burton).
2. You can’t say no.
Some people are terrified of the word. But “no” is just as important as “yes.” The reason for not saying no when you want to boils down to not wanting to disappoint the asker. Of course we prefer to hear “yes,” but not if it’s insincere! If I ask a girl out with romance in mind and she says yes only to be polite, she is cruelly leading me on and wasting our time.
3. You boast at every chance you get.
I was at a restaurant once with friends, and this one guy at the table had been to so many places. Shoot he may have even spent a night or two in Antarctica. But he really needed to tell us about it. All of it.
Yes, yes, we get it. We’re nobodies and you’ve seen the world.
We generally boast to make ourselves feel better and to impress those around us, but it can easily backfire. If the people around you perceive that you’re purposefully boasting, like when you make unsolicited comments about your greatness, they’ll see you as insecure and annoying. In addition, boasting of great feats often makes the people around us feel inferior. When you make people feel inferior, they’re going to like you less, not more.
It’s acceptable to tell people what you’ve accomplished and who you are, especially if they’re asking, but if you always feel like you need to prove to the world that you’re a great human being, then maybe you care a bit too much about coming across as a great human being. Instead, simply be a great human being, and people will notice.
4. You aim to please… everyone!
People pleasers are the worst – not for others, but for themselves. They are pleasant, but fake, for to please everyone else is to sacrifice yourself. It isn’t complicated why this happens, because to make everyone happy, you must adapt your behavior to them. Yes, to be authentic means you’re not going to be everyone’s favorite person.
There are some people out there who have warm, attractive personalities. They may garner the affection of most, but not everyone likes warm, attractive personalities. Some people prefer rough around the edges, intense personalities. With nearly 7 billion people on the planet, we have 7 billion different sets of preferences. Good luck trying to match up with all of them!
It’s ok if you don’t click with some people. That’s life. Don’t bend over backwards to “fix” it. If they’re your in-laws, you might need to move to another country.
5. You make decisions based on what’s expected of you, instead of what your heart is telling you.
Oh my, oh my. I saved the worst for last. That tiny little sentence up there has ruined so many lives. Don’t think that you’ve safely cleared it, either. It’s so pervasive that nobody gets out clean. The massive amount of external influence on us is inescapable. We are all under the influence to different degrees, so the goal is to search inside, and as you clear away the debris of living in this world, rediscover the real you.
I heard yesterday that to a worm in horseradish sauce, the world is horseradish sauce. People laugh when others talk about “finding themselves” in a far away place, but this is a great idea! When you’re removed from your world, you’re able to see it better. You’re able to see yourself not covered in horseradish sauce for the first time.
Life is seriously short, and to waste it by accommodating the demands and expectations of family and friends, no matter how special they are to you, is a really bad move.
A great test to differentiate you from everything else is to imagine it is the year 2200 AD. Sorry, you’re dead in this example (barring crazy scientific breakthroughs). Let it soak in that you won’t be around. With that scenario in mind, what are you doing now that doesn’t seem worthwhile? What should you do instead? What life would you like to create in the time you have left?
The Key Factor In All Five
If there is a single elixir to save you from caring too much about what others think, which was hinted at in all of them, it’s this…
Know who you are and where you’re going!
The man who doesn’t know himself looks elsewhere for that information. He looks to others. A dependence develops and he habitually acts in ways to get better feedback and more respect from people. Unlike the great men of history, his identity is not sourced from beliefs and values, but from his social status.
Once this man knows himself, he still needs a path to take, lest he fall prey to stagnancy. It wasn’t enough for George Washington and America’s founding fathers to believe in freedom, they needed to act on that belief to make it meaningful. And my goodness was it meaningful!
I’m merely 26 years old, but the path I’ve taken over the last several years has taken me so much closer to the goal – knowing who I am and what I’m going to do about it. This blog is a part of that realization, as is the mysterious project I’m currently working on. It’s no coincidence that last year I was able to say no confidently despite the harsh consequences I knew I would face.
When you know who you are and where you’re going…
- You realize that you have a lot more about yourself to learn, and tend to be more interested in knowing others and sharing what you know of yourself, than worrying about what people think of you. If people don’t like you, that’s ok, because you’re a constant work in progress.
- You know what you’re saying “yes” to. Saying no becomes much easier.
- You won’t want to boast because you know the best is yet to come. People who boast, often do so because they feel their best days are behind them, and they’re holding on to the glory of the past. People who know themselves and their path are going to speak of the excitement of what’s to come, rather than what has been.
- James Bond doesn’t have time to apologize to the butler he knocks over on his way to saving the world. Neither will you. It would, however, be nice to write him an apology letter later if you have time.
- Your decisions are razor sharp, focused, and intentional towards your chosen path. If it is inconsequential to meet a request from a friend or family member, you’ll oblige. You know exactly where the line is between your dreams and what everyone else wants of you….
…and James Bond couldn’t get you to cross it.