How to Be Less Pleasing and More Likeable

independant living pleasing others warrior spirit

When you spend so much of your energy trying to live up to other people’s expectations, they are the ones who define your values and ultimately your quality as a person.

Instead, if you only try to live up to your own standards, other people see that you have taken an active role in defining what is and is not important in your own life. Since most people take their values from external sources, you gain a sort of mystique as one who takes initiative. And when you express a commitment to a value set, other people will start to think that maybe they should also follow this value set which you find worth following. Social proof often makes something more desirable to others, simply because they see people doing it.

The Naysayers

Of course, others will openly challenge you in an attempt to bring you back to pleasing others, where you will be defanged as a radical element of society. After all, people who follow their own values are dangerous to the social order and are difficult to control. Authority figures, or those who rely on kissing up to authority figures, don’t like those who march to the beat of their own drum. If you don’t care about pleasing others, you’re harder to control and take advantage of. A lot of people see this as bad.

Frequently, those who care about us aren’t really comfortable with us making our own decisions as well. They have our best interests in mind, and they have come to the conclusion that their way of doing things is the safest and fastest way to success and happiness. When they see us trying to do things differently, they may get uncomfortable, defensive, or actually oppressive. This dynamic is the case with parents and spouses in a lot of families. The key here is to realize that the people holding us back are simply looking out for us in the best way they know how.

Know Your Priorities

There is a difference between making people happy by helping them out and trying to please them by altering your behavior and priorities. We should be considerate of others, but only to the point that doing so doesn’t interfere with our own values.

The only way to know is to ask yourself if you would consider something important if it wasn’t important to someone else. It can be scary to admit that you never really wanted to go to graduate school or become a powerful CEO, but if these priorities came from someone else’s idea of what is best for your life then pursuing them would have meant giving over your life energy to someone else.

Changing priorities and life course can make us feel guilty or like we aren’t living up to our potential. But keep in mind that your potential is determined by what your values are. As I always have to remind myself, I don’t have to have a 500lb deadlift because I don’t value that kind of strength in myself. It isn’t useful to me. So while I may be failing to live up to my potential according to the standard of powerlifters and some others, I’m not according to my own standards of fitness and athleticism.

Know what you want to be, and don’t try to be something else. Especially don’t try to be something others want you to be.

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