Tell me something, do you feel free in your life?
I mean free to be who you are, go after what you want, and live the life you love?
If you didn’t immediately say YES, believe me, you’re not alone.
So many of women I talk to tell me that they feel trapped. Stuck. Chained to a life that they’re not sure is theirs.
And yet so many times, those prisons are of our own making.
What is really keeping you from having a full, free, purposeful life?
One of the most significant traps is trying to live by other people’s expectations. That people-pleasing thing kicks in, and before you know it, someone else is calling the shots in your life.
As women, people-pleasing seems to come naturally. After all, we tend to be inherently empathetic. Many of us have also strong values, morals, and traditions that we’ve lived with all of our lives.
And, of course, there’s also that innate human desire to belong, be accepted, and be part of a tribe. Often, it feels safer to fit in than to stand out.
But what if your natural concern for other people becomes more important than your dreams? What if you find that the ideas and traditions you grew up with don’t quite vibe with your personal values?
And what if being part of a community just for the sake of safety doesn’t feel like a good enough reason anymore?
As a recovering people pleaser (who still has her struggles with it now and then), here’s what I’ve learned over the years…
It’s not that people-pleasing in itself is a bad thing. It becomes a problem when you allow other people’s opinions to hold you back from what YOU really want.
Not that letting go of what others think is necessarily easy. But there comes a time when fearing backlash from friends and family becomes more of an excuse than a reason to hold yourself back.
And isn’t it time you set yourself free from anything that is keeping you stuck?
This month is all about FREEDOM. So today, I’m sharing four reasons why you might still care about what other people think. And what you can do to FREE yourself from needing someone else’s “OK,” once and for all!
Let’s be real. When you’re passionate about anything, there’s usually a powerful WHY behind it. And it’s only natural to want the people in your life to really “get” why something matters to you. So it follows that having the OK from your most special people is kind of a big deal.
But if you’re perpetually waiting for someone to give you the green light rather than trusting your gut, that’s a hint that you might actually doubt your own convictions.
Here’s the truth: your life decisions don’t require someone else’s acquiescence. And when you crave approval above all else, you’re relying on outside validation rather than your internal truth. You’re asking someone else to confirm YOUR feelings about it.
And what’s more, even your biggest cheerleaders will never care about your passion projects as much as you do. They’ll support you to a point, but after that, the rest is up to you.
In the end, all you really have is yourself and your truth. And the ultimate validation of any move you want to make has to come from YOU.
So you can put on the brakes and seek other people’s OK, or you can embrace your truth and GO for it.
Sure, being stuck in fear about other people’s approval feels like a massive roadblock.
But ultimately, what is stopping you–fear of someone else’s disapproval, or fear of your own failure?
Or to put it another way, what if fear of other people’s disapproval was secretly just a stall tactic?
Sometimes it feels safer to worry about what others might say than to just take the leap and get started. After all, if you take that chance and go for it, what might happen?
Maybe you’ll discover that you’re terrible at this thing. You might realize that it isn’t what you thought it was going to be. Or that your idea wasn’t such a great one after all.
The idea of an epic fail can make holding on to fear of disapproval sound a lot easier!
But honestly, what if you do fail? Would any of those possible outcomes I mentioned mean the end of the world for you?
Of course not. In fact, if you do fail in any way, there’s always a lesson. Whether you know it or not, everything that looks like a flop is usually another step closer to your ultimate success!
“Failure” never really IS that. It’s not catastrophic or devastating. The only “real” failure is abandoning your dreams because you were too afraid to try.
Sometimes, the reasons for being a people pleaser can sound pretty noble. You care about other people’s feelings. You don’t want to hurt anybody. You want everyone to be happy and get along.
But what if those well-meaning ideas were just pretty packaging for an inconvenient truth? What the subtext here is that you’re letting other people’s values run your life?
Five years ago, I left a well-paying job for the whirlwind of entrepreneurship. Some people called me crazy. But no matter who said what, I knew I was making the right choice.
I knew that this leap would give me the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I could be who I wanted to be and say what I wanted to say. So according to my values, freedom meant more to me than the safety and security of a steady paycheck.
To some, it might’ve looked like a radical choice. But it upheld the values that I held the most dear, so the decision was obvious.
Yet so many times, we make decisions based on someone else’s values. And under the guise of “doing the right thing.”
But that begs the question, “Right for whom?”
Here’s the thing: people’s opinions come through the filter of their experiences and their reality. That’s just how all of us human beings are wired.
No matter how supportive or empathetic your friends and family might be, they’re not living YOUR life. And they may or may not value things the same way that you do.
And if you let their values make your choices, you’re living your life by their rules!
So if someone you love isn’t quite getting what you’re doing, thank them for sharing. Thank them for caring enough to weigh in. But also let them know that you’re doing what you need to do anyway. Because that’s what your values call for.
It’s not about what is “right” or “wrong.” It’s about what is right for you. So you’ve got to know your values and let them drive the bus.
Making choices based on what matters most to you will set you on the pathway to freedom. So set that moral compass by your values, and it won’t steer you wrong!
For years, I identified as the “smart girl.” I got good grades, I worked hard, and I did “well in school.” Pretty much had the small-town, all-American girl thing down pat.
When you take on a persona like that, though, it can put you in a box. And when you inevitably feel called to think outside that box, the feather-ruffling potential goes through the roof.
The closest people in your life might be shocked by the change of heart. It might set you up for criticism from your friends and family. People might say, “What, this isn’t who you are!”
But what if this new path was actually getting you closer to who you REALLY are?
All of us are changing, evolving, and “upgrading” ourselves at all times. Every new experience brings the potential for fundamental change. An opportunity to step into a new version of you.
But if a story that you adopted about yourself 20 years ago (or more) is running your life, you deny yourself the chance to write a brand new chapter.
Believe it or not, you can rewrite your story at any time. You can change it, upgrade it, or chuck it altogether and start anew.
Logically, we all know how important it is to be true to ourselves, let our truth come out, and honor our journey.
But what happens when someone in your inner circle says that a dream you have “doesn’t sound like you,” and it triggers a stream of self-doubt?
We’re talking things running through your head like…
“Maybe they’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t try this. Maybe that’s not what the ‘smart girl’ would do, and I’m that smart girl, right?”
This is where you check those stories. Ask yourself if they’re even true anymore. And understand that well-meaning friends and family might not have caught up with the emerging version of you just yet.
Because you just never know. If you go for something that seems “not like you,” you might pleasantly surprise everyone–from your friends and relatives to yourself!
So if the fear of backlash from your inner circle is keeping you from taking ANY big leap, I encourage you to take a step back. Check yourself against these four ideas, and see where you might be getting in your own way.
At the end of the day, it’s your life. It’s your decisions. Nobody else can make them for you. And the only one who loses if you don’t go for your dreams is YOU.
So get out there, do your thing, and share it with the world. Because we all need you to show up and be YOU! Take the steps to free yourself from other people’s expectations, and you’re on your way to the greatest freedom of all.
Have you ever felt paralyzed by fear of other people’s expectations? I’d love to hear which of the 4 reasons speak to you the most and if you’re ready to dig deep and really get to work on overcoming this limiting mindset, I encourage you take a peek at my upcoming B.I.G. Life Retreat! It’s a virtual event that feels anything but virtual so if you’ve been looking for the thing to help take you to the next level, this could be it!