What do you do when it’s you against the world against yourself, asks EMILIE OLIFANT.
Everyone at some time struggles with the need to impress people at some level. And much of the pressure, fear and stress we experience is caused by our need to impress others. Can you imagine how free we would be if we just lived for our Creator and did not worry about what others thought? How wonderful would it be to know that you do not have anything to prove and you’re satisfied being who you are?
The other day someone told me that another person didn’t like me merely because of my ethnicity. For days I struggled with this thought and wanted to understand why anyone would in their right mind, in this day and age, still feel such prejudice towards someone on that basis. But what I know for sure is that, unfortunately, for as long as I have to interact with this other person, they will have to deal with their own demons about my ethnicity. I don’t have to be someone that I’m not.
Human beings are social creatures by nature, driven by a need to belong. We need to belong to one another, to our friends and families, to our culture and country, to our world. Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and wellbeing. Belonging is a psychological lever that has broad consequences. Our interests, motivation, health and happiness are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that may share common interests and aspirations.
I have realised that there is real freedom in being able to say, “I won’t listen to that. It’s not my gift or calling.” When we have this attitude, we’re not comparing ourselves or competing. And we’re not worried about living by the world’s standards, like having to wear what the fashion magazines say is “in” or having the “right” job or level of income to make us “important”.
Just about everyone wants to be liked. It’s normal. But sometimes, the desire to be held in high regard goes too far. An excessive desire to be liked can stem from many different issues. Perhaps you experience a little social anxiety and you worry that others are judging you harshly, so in an effort to reduce your anxiety you go a little overboard trying to be liked.
Or maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum – you have a hint of narcissism. Narcissists tend to want to be liked by others, especially those with a higher status, because it inflates their self-importance.
It’s important to recognise when your desire to be liked is becoming self-destructive. You need to be true to yourself. And to be true to yourself means to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe. Just as you cannot love anyone else until you love yourself, you cannot be true to anyone else until you are true to yourself. Begin by being unafraid to be who you are! Have the courage to accept yourself as you really are, not as someone else thinks you should be.
Just be you and embrace what life throws at you!
Emilie Olifant is a disability activist, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. She is the director of the Emilie Olifant Foundation, an organisation that strives to address socio-economic issues experienced by people with disabilities. email: email@example.com