You are GOOD enough, SMART enough, FINE enough, and STRONG enough. You don’t need other people to validate you; you are already VALUABLE.
Sometimes we try to show the world we are flawless in hopes that we will be liked and accepted by everyone, but we can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t try. The beauty of us lies in our vulnerability, our complex emotions, and our authentic imperfections. When we embrace who we are and decide to be authentic, instead of who we think others want us to be, we open ourselves up to real relationships, real happiness, and real success.
There is no need to put on an act. There is no need to pretend to be someone you’re not. You have nothing to prove to anyone else, because…
1. The people worth impressing just want you to be yourself.
In the long run, it’s better to be loathed for who you are than loved for who you are not. In fact, the only relationships that work well in the long run are the ones that make you a better person without changing you into someone other than yourself, and without preventing you from outgrowing the person you used to be.
Ignore the comparisons and expectations knocking at your door. The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday. Prove yourself to yourself, not others. The RIGHT people for you will love you for doing so, and they will appreciate all the things about you that the WRONG people are intimidated by. Bottom line: Don’t change so people will like you; be patient, keep being your amazing self, and pretty soon the RIGHT people will love the REAL you.
2. No one else really knows what’s best for YOU.
Don’t lose yourself in your search for acceptance by others. Walk your path confidently and don’t expect anyone else to understand your journey, especially if they have not been exactly where you are going. You have to take the steps that are right for you; no one else walks in your shoes.
Let others take you as you are, or not at all. Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. By being true to yourself, you put something breathtaking into the world that was not there before. You are stunning when your passion and strength shines through as you follow your own path – when you aren’t distracted by the opinions of others. You are powerful when you let your mistakes educate you, and your confidence builds from firsthand experiences – when you know you can fall down, pick yourself up, and move forward without asking for anyone else’s permission. (Read Awaken the Giant Within.)
3. YOU are the only person who can change YOUR life.
In every situation you have ever been in, positive or negative, the one common thread is you. It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to recognize that regardless of what has happened up to this point in your life, you are capable of making choices to change your situation, or to change the way you think about it. Don’t let the opinions of others interfere with this prevailing reality.
What you’re capable of achieving is not a function of what other people think is possible for you. What you’re capable of achieving depends entirely on what you choose to do with your time and energy. So stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Just keep living your truth. The only people that will fault you for doing so are those who want you to live a lie.
4. Society’s materialistic measurement of worth is worthless.
When you find yourself trapped between what moves you and what society tells you is right for you, always travel the route that makes you feel alive – unless you want everyone to be happy, except you. No matter where life takes you, big cities or small towns, you will inevitably come across others who think they know what’s best for you – people who think they’re better than you – people who think happiness, success and beauty mean the same things to everyone.
They’ll try to measure your worth based on what you have, instead of who you are. But you know better than that – material things don’t matter. Don’t chase the money. Catch up to the ideas and activities that make you come alive. Go for the things of greater value – the things money can’t buy. What matters is having strength of character, an honest heart, and a sense of self-worth. If you’re lucky enough to have any of these things, never sell them. Never sell yourself short. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” and “Simplicity” chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
5. Life isn’t a race; you have nothing to prove.
Everyone wants to get to the top of the mountain first and shout, “Look at me! Look at me!” But the truth is, all your happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing, not while you’re sitting at the top. Enjoy the journey by paying attention to each step. Don’t rush through your life and miss it. Forget where everyone else is in relation to you. This isn’t a race. You get there a little at a time, not all at once.
Let go of the foolish need to prove yourself to everyone else, and you’ll free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.
6. The path to all great things passes through failure.
You are an ever-changing work in progress. You don’t have to always be right, you just have to not be too worried about being wrong. Screwing up is part of the process. Looking like a fool sometimes is the only way forward. If you try too hard to impress everyone else with your “perfection,” you will stunt your growth. You will spend all your time looking a certain way, instead of living a certain way.
It’s impossible to live without failing sometimes, unless you live so cautiously that you aren’t really living at all – you’re merely existing. If you’re too afraid of failing in front of others, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful in your own eyes. You have to remember that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail or how messy your journey is, so long as you do not stop taking small steps forward. In the end, those who don’t care that failure is inevitable are the ones that reach their dreams. YOU can be one of them. (Read The Last Lecture.)
7. It’s impossible to please everyone anyway.
Some people will always tell you what you did wrong, and then hesitate to compliment you for what you did right. Don’t be one of them, and don’t put up with them.
When you run into someone who discredits you, disrespects you and treats you poorly for no apparent reason at all, don’t consume yourself with trying to change them or win their approval. And be sure not to leave any space in your heart to hate them. Simply walk away and let karma deal with the things they say and do, because any bit of time you spend on these people will be wasted, and any bit of hate and aggravation in your heart will only hurt you in the end.
You don’t need a standing ovation or a bestseller or a promotion or a million bucks. You are enough right now. You have nothing to prove. Care less about who you are to others and more about who you are to yourself. You will have less heartaches and disappointments the minute you stop seeking from others the validation only YOU can give yourself.
The floor is yours…
How has the desire to be accepted by others interfered with your life in the past year? What has it stopped you from doing or being? How have you coped? Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.
Photo by: Lali Masriera
It’s taken me nearly 60 years to stop trying to prove myself to everyone. I wasted many years of my life in tragic situations simply because I wanted to win the approval of of the wrong people.
Honestly, my most important life lesson I’ve learned is to not care what people think of me, and that I cannot please everyone no matter how hard I try. Now I have this mantra: “I am who I am, and if people can’t accept me for who I am, they can keep walking.”
BTW, I bought two of your books today and I can’t wait for them to arrive. I’m giving one of them to my daughter as a gift (she actually introduced me to your Instagram account and work).
Sue Finnerty says
I certainly can relate to this. I reached 70 this year and decided I only needed to give permission to myself for how I lived my life. Anybody else’s opinion didn’t really matter. For many decades I chased after people for their approval or validation and they really didn’t give too hoots. So empowering when you reach this stage of your life. It’s such a great feeling not to worry about what others think and just life your life how you choose.
Like Scott, I have struggled with my self-image in front of others. It’s been a gradual process of letting go and refocusing my energy inward – something your blog and books have helped me with tremendously. This past year has been one of my strongest yet!
@Dee: You will love their books. Read a page or two of 1,000 Little Things or 1,000 Little Habits every day to remain inspired and focused. I do daily.
Susan V says
I am working on changing my people-pleasing mindset right now, so thanks for the perfect timing with this post.
I know I do not need to worry about what others think of me. As long as I’m not hurting anyone, I’m allowed to beat to my own drum and do what’s best for ME. Remembering this and acting accordingly, however, is often a challenge for me.
The fear of making a mistake and “looking bad” in front of others used to cause me to freeze and not do, or start, anything – by not starting, I wouldn’t risk failing.
Re-framing that fear with a new meaning that mistakes were opportunities for learning and growth helped me to see value in the process as well as in myself. And continues to give me the courage to step outside of my comfort zone.
For many years now I have used this phrase: “What you think of me is none of my business !!!” It always helps me to remember to stay true to myself .. Thank you for your amazing and inspiring columns .. I have spread the word on how valuable they are ..
Hugs to you both in this season, M&A!
Great article! I have found myself being the “butt kissing” fool in many circumstances. Looking back or rather looking forward, I see that I never put myself first and all the “butt kissing” has gotten me NOWHERE!
It’s a time for new beginnings and your article truly opened my eyes.
I look forward to future postings and emails from you.
Roxy Andre says
Robin, my heart is with you.
Please create Goals
And write them Down
Run after Him like a person starving for Food.
Shut everyone Else out
And head towards those goals
With each bump and Bruise be Grateful.
And Self Love will Develop
Nelima Patricia says
I needed this set of reminders today. And I appreciate the PDF, 30 things to start doing for yourself, too. Thank you for the insights. Happy holidays!
Wow – this one was divinely timed for me. I am working on healing my heart and my relationship with myself and the world. I was recently diagnosed with complex PTSD and am in trauma-focused therapy. The inner narrative that has hurt me the most, passed down by a narcissistic parent, is the idea that I need to be approved or confirmed by others before I can believe that I’m good enough. I inwardly panic when people disagree or misunderstand me, especially if they show any kind of contempt or disrespect towards me. It makes me want to hide in shame and seethe in anger, especially in our current ideologically charged times. I am learning how to listen to myself and focus on knowing what makes me feel full and tender inside, and then approving of myself for following my own path. I’m trying to give myself the presence, openness, patience, kindness, encouragement and accolades I’ve sought from people who don’t understand my path and are walking a totally different one. It’s a slow and long process. But I’ll do my best to enjoy the climb. The words in this post, and in the comments above mine, make me feel more seen, and remind me it’s okay if not everyone sees me for who I am. Thank you, M&A 🙂
Lori Lander says
Thank you Marc & Angel for your heartfelt insight. This blog speaks to me deeply and further validates the importance of putting myself first. I loved reading your book Getting Back To Happy and just ordered 1,000+ Little Things and can’t wait to read it!
Thank you for allowing your beautiful bright light to shine!
I am so grateful, Marc and Angel, for the good work you two do. Today’s article really spoke volumes to me about seeking approval from people. And i am on my way in 2023 to break the cycle in Jesus name. I need your prayers.
MaryAnn Russum says
After losing a 10-year job as a designer at and toy company rather unexpectedly and for no good reason, I’ve struggled to find regular work as a designer/Art Director/Stylist for the last 8 yrs. I was let go at 49 years old and in the design industry, you’re basically ancient at that age.
I see friends who have excelled in my field who are near my age and wonder why I keep struggling. And recently, though I was the top 3 candidates for an in-house job at a non-profit, I didn’t get the job. I so wanted it. It checked off so many of the things I wanted including giving back to the community and being hybrid (only working 2 days a week in the office) and with a great salary. Since then, though I try not to do this, I have been kicking myself for how I answered some of the questions and blaming myself for not getting the dream job. I have a job currently but it’s not nearly the salary I need or want to make. But I’m still working on finding better work and will NOT give up.
On the other topic of pleasing people or putting with people you’ll never please, that 10-year job offered about 7 years of bullying from people who I had once considered friends. There was no amount of my efforts of being kind or even tolerant that was going to change their behavior or the mental and verbal abuse I received from them. And the biggest abuser who once seemed like she would have been a long-time friend turned into a frienemy and then became my boss. Trust me when I say it was hell. The only way I mentally survived it is by acknowledging that I couldn’t change other people’s behavior, only my reaction to it. And though in many ways I was shut down mentally, it helped me survive a very trying time. It also taught me a LOT of lessons. I’ll never let that happen again and I’m grateful that I’m stronger on the other side. The very people that abused me the most now know that I’m happier and stronger now and I know it kills them to see it in me. I promised myself I’d never ever deal with that in a job again or if I did, I nip it in the bud asap.
This is such a great article though and a great reminder of how to be your true self, with all your flaws and all your glory. I’ll never ever dull my sparkle for someone to feel more comfortable around me. However, I will tell them to put on some damn sunglasses!!
Diana Everett says
I was bullied in the workplace too as an introvert and I think due also to female jealousy. Good for you for not allowing the experience to crush you and in escaping and finding a happier path.
There are so many narcissists and bullies in the general population: in families, in workplaces, in friendships, in romantic relationships. As an introvert without family support I’ve been targeted by all of them including a murderous abuser whom I had to escape from which upended my entire life: job loss, pet loss, home loss, furniture loss.
I am truly sick of and disgusted with these bullies and the grave damage they do to others, including murder. Why they are catered to eludes me. They all need to be in prison, all of them malignant narcissists, bullies and psychopaths alike. They contribute nothing to the planet and just take, take, take and destroy everything they touch. Never a good deed goes unpunished with these selfish, sadistic individuals.
Peace on your new and enlightened journey!