Updated: Sep 27, 2018
Do you alter your thoughts and behaviors in an attempt to change someone else’s thoughts and behaviors? Stop trying to think ten steps ahead, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or looking for approval, and start acting with your best interest in mind!
Once upon a time…
I was a professional at trying to alter my own thoughts and behaviors in an attempt to change someone else’s thoughts and behaviors. I would attempt to think ten steps ahead and plan out how my own actions would be perceived by another person and adjust them accordingly, hoping to get the outcome I desired.
I got both positive and negative results. It wasn’t until I noticed that I was getting the undesired outcome more often than I had hoped that I realized I had absolutely no control over other people’s actions. All I was doing was causing myself anxiety. I was becoming someone who was anticipating disaster rather than focusing on what I could actually control.
I know I am not the only person who does this. Researcher/ storyteller, Brene Brown, has dedicated whole sections of her books to this subject. It goes like this: Someone wants to avoid making their friends, partner, family, co-worker, etc. angry, so they alter their own thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors to avoid the negative outcome. I call this “walking on eggshells” and it doesn’t fucking work. Trust me. There is always the possibility that what we are trying to avoid could still, and probably will, happen and then what? All that effort was for nothing. And we changed who we are to make someone else happy. We need to be dedicating that precious time making ourselves happy. We cannot neglect ourselves while trying to please someone else. Don’t do that to yourself. I know it’s easier said than done- I know. But I also know of the extreme stress that accompanies people pleasing, seeking approval, and damage control. It’s not worth the effort. Some people just cannot be pleased. Others will never give you the approval. And damage control means there is already ‘damage’ done so let it go. You know who can provide you with all those things? Yourself.
Live for someone else and be miserable (while still getting a negative response)
Live for yourself with you own happiness in mind, and deal with the consequences.
Dealing with the Consequences:
Think about what the worst thing that could possibly happen is and then tell yourself you could live through it, because you probably already have or know you could. You may not want to, but you can. It could be that easy if you let it be.
Ultimately, you can’t control other people’s reactions; You can only control your own. Don’t waste any time trying to and don’t waste any time worrying about it. You shouldn’t live your life attempting to satisfy someone else. Live it for yourself. Practice your response to issues that may arise in a way that promotes your own physical and mental health. Speak it. Write it. Listen to others' responses to difficult situations and learn from them. Whatever helps you set those boundaries, invest time and energy into it! Put yourself first! And remember, as long as you are putting yourself first, making yourself happy, anyone else’s reactions to your choices are a reflection of themselves- not you- and can't touch what you have created for yourself.
**Disclaimer: If the outcomes could result in harm to yourself or others, profession intervention should be sought out.
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