Your partner loves to go to the beach when the sun is shining, you prefer to stay inside, but you join them anyway. Your friends are Beyoncé fans, you’re into rock music, but you join them at Bee’s concert anyway. Or you need to have a serious conversation with your colleagues, but you don’t speak up, because you don’t want them to dislike you. It’s time to stop looking for approval. You don’t need everyone to like you.
Pleasing people, why do we feel the need to do that? It starts as a convenient technique. Making other people makes you feel good (for a while). And it can be addictive. Who doesn’t want other people to like them? It makes life a lot easier, right? You can keep doing it for a long time – avoiding conflict. But in the end, constantly looking for approval with others is tiresome.
If we need other people’s approval to feel good, we’re looking for happiness outside ourselves. That way, we give a lot of power to ‘others’. Power over how we feel. Disappointment is inevitable: if someone doesn’t like your behaviour, or responds harshly, it’s a shock.
Besides, you’re living another person’s life. You’re not filling your life with things you really want to do, but adapting it to other people’s needs. And you’re drawing conclusions for them: you don’t even know whether you’re really making them happy. Perhaps your colleague would like you to be strict, because it allows her to learn.
If you’re constantly looking for approval or appreciation with others, you belittle yourself. You go with others, and make it impossible to develop yourself. Do you want to listen to this music, do you want to go to the beach? If it makes you happier to read a book in the park, listening to Bach, why don’t you?
You’re distancing yourself from new chances by doing what others expect of you. If, for instance, you’ve grown up in a small village but the city tempts you, why not just move there? If you’re scared of disappointing others, you’re ignoring your own dreams and leading other people’s life. The time will come when you’ll regret it.
Maybe you like pleasing others, because you want to avoid conflict. You hate discussions about the choices you make. The idea that others won’t agree with you, makes you feel stressed. But what if you let go of that? If you do things you want to do, not what others want you to? It will make you feel less stressed, and you’ll stop worrying about what the rest of the world may think.
If you keep pleasing others, people will realise what you’re doing. They’ll regard you as the person they can treat however they want, because you’ll bend anyway. It’s especially unpleasant at work, when colleagues around you like to boss you around. Before you know it, they’ll take advantage of you and walk all over you. What a waste! It’s time to live your life – others do it too!
Photo: Ariana Prestes
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