You need to really take a good hard look at how badly you want to be liked. Because that desire is what traps you in an egotistical state of mind. And it makes you ridiculously weak when that is not your nature. But you don’t act like yourself when you’re worried that you might make some social mistake that will threaten your very inclusion in the loving human family.
I’m not saying that you can’t do things so heinous that the vast majority of people won’t turn against you, but those things almost never happen. In the end, what you perceive as some giant mistake on your part is generally just a blip in a day for most other people. But we don’t need to look at big things. We can demonstrate how scared you are using tiny things.
If you’re walking down a street and you’re going to pass another person going the other way, you’ll feel awkward about where to look and most of you will be too nervous to offer any kind of greeting. Did you get that? You’re an adult and you’re scared to say “hi” to people you walk past you on the street. Do you realize how frightened that is?
You won’t vacation where the cultures or languages are too far from your own, if you’re at an event and they request questions, you won’t ask one even if you truly do want to ask. You’ll be instantly nervous entering a room of strangers. You’ll do all of those things based on fears and yet there is no need for any of them. There is no need to tailor your personality (or likes and dislikes) to other people’s tastes. It’s childish. You are you. You have many aspects. But anyone else you try to be will have the tension of trying attached to it. If you simply enact yourself—if you simply be—you will find yourself right where you are and that’s exactly where you belong.
Start defending your life by standing up for yourself. This isn’t to say that it’s other people’s jobs to help you enact the life you want, but at the same time their judgments should not be standing in the way of you becoming the most developed version of yourself. People you care about will absolutely not approve of some of the things you’ll want to do naturally. That’s just part of life. They have their ideas and you have yours. But if they’re upset that’s their issue, not yours. It’s not your job to morph into whatever people need you to be in order for them to be happy. That’s extortion. You simply be yourself, and the people that love the real you will naturally show up. Authenticity is magnetic that way.
You belong on this planet. Your very existence is all the proof we need that the universe wanted you here. So if you’re going to exist, you might as well maximize that opportunity. Be bold. Go after your dreams. And defend your life. You have a limited number of hours on this Earth to interact with the world. Do so with yourself fully invested in that knowledge—that your very existence is a fluky wonder—and use this magnificent opportunity to become everything that you naturally are, if you’d only take away the fears.
Stop with the fearful thoughts. Stop calculating downsides. Stop worrying. Feel strong. Advance your position. Be bold. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Seriously. It’s a choice. You make it moment by moment. Start living those moments with the firm knowledge that you are an amazing, worthwhile, intentionally created being with capabilities and talents that are valuable and some are even enjoyable. That’s truly you. So start living like that’s true because it absolutely is.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.