When was the last time you did something you thought was cool and enjoyed living for yourself? And without feeling the need to share it on social media?
Do you ever stop to think of why?
It might make you look cool and like you have a life.
But really, all you are seeking is validation and approval from others.
As humans, we have this innate need to belong and seek social acceptance. Hence why you may or may not have jumped on trends that you thought were initially silly but because everyone’s doing it, it feels justifiable to follow the crowd. Ugh, it’s like high school all over again.
It gets to the point where you become a social chameleon that changes preferences according to what social clique you hang out with. This is why living for yourself is important.
The issue with wearing proverbial masks is that we begin to lose our authenticity and ourselves in the process of seeking other people’s approval. You can end up losing yourself and not being quite sure who you are.
What does ‘living for yourself’ mean?
Living for yourself means expressing yourself in a way that is authentic to you. Living for yourself starts to happen when you stop caring about the opinions of others.
Life begins when you actually have a life that exists outside of social media or what other people deem acceptable.
10 Ways To Start Living for Yourself
1. Stop seeking external validation.
Validation comes in many forms – compliments, message notifications, likes, followers, smile from strangers, encouragement from friends, looks from the opposite sex, and words of affirmation from other people.
Although there is nothing wrong with a little validation here and there. It becomes a problem when your identity is tied to it as well as your mood for the rest of the day.
Here is the thing, external validation won’t make you feel better it’s only a fleeting distraction from yourself. It creates codependency with others.
It’s good for the ego but it’s a bottomless pit that can never be filled for your soul to flourish. No amount of likes, achievements, money or casual sex will be enough to fill that void if you are not happy within.
Stop looking to others or things to fill your cup because the moment you have expectations and they fall short or don’t even care anymore, and they can’t give you the validation, your self-esteem is at risk.
2. Spend time alone
To know what you want from life, you have to start getting to know yourself.
And I mean REALLY spending time alone.
Don’t distract yourself with social media, tv, and other vices. Stay with the boredom and your thoughts.
Sometimes we spend every waking hour with others that we forget what we’re like alone. There’s a saying that goes “Who you are alone is your real self”. How accurate is that?
It’s easy to get influenced by the people you surround yourself with. Their choices, beliefs, actions, words, mood, and frequency become yours.
Being alone and lonely are two different things that people seem to confuse. I find it crazy how people get gobsmacked to find out that I like going out alone.
I just went to the a concert by myself and I had the time of my life. No anxiety. No Fear. No judgment. No Fake friends. I felt the most confident that I ever felt, met new people, it was truly wonderful.
3. Develop a thick skin.
Stop taking things personally. Nothing anyone ever does is because of you. What I learned this year is that people are always projecting anyway so none of it matters.
If you find yourself getting triggered by what someone says or does then there’s some inner shadow work that needs to be done.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
This person did X therefore they are the reason I feel bad, if they stop doing X then I will feel ok
This person did X which activated a pre-existing fear and discomfort inside of me, if I resolve that preexisting discomfort, then x will not have a significant impact on me “
No one can bring anything out of you unless it was already there.
4. Practise Radical Acceptance
You’ve heard people say be yourself- when you have nerves before going on a date, you have a big presentation coming up, or you are just meeting people you don’t know for the first time.
But what does ‘be yourself’ actually mean? It sounds like a cliché advice that people just throw around to help you feel better, but no one has a clue about what it means.
And that kind of advice doesn’t always work if you have the fear of rejection. Or if you have been shamed or judged so many times for being yourself.
Practicing radical acceptance means that you love yourself unconditionally no matter what happens. If something is truly meant for you, it will be for you. This takes the pressure off yourself tremendously because your validation is coming from within and not focused on outside sources.
5. Become that person you admire.
You know the people you admire who seem to have their life together and exude confidence.
That person is YOU.
When we admire people, we do so because certain traits already exist within us even though they may be underdeveloped in us or completely out of our awareness.
People are your mirrors. When you dislike or like specific traits in others, they can often be a reflection of what you dislike or like in yourself.
Leave your old stories behind and start creating new stories of the person you already are. Start acting as if and before you know it you become that person that you’ve always admired.
6. Don’t wait for permission to live
Living for yourself means life on your terms. Don’t wait for permission to live especially if what you desire is a life outside of your comfort zone.
Asking for people’s advice and opinions can sometimes sow seeds of doubt or fear in your plans.
Why not take the chance already? 85% of the things we fear usually never happens. Don’t believe me check this out. Some studies even suggest that 97% of the things we worry about either never happen, or we handle them way better than we thought while learning something worthwhile in the process.
Fear can make you feel like you need to talk to people who will talk some ‘sense’ into you. If it isn’t hurting anybody and it’s what your heart wants then go for it.
Can we just admit that sometimes your mind is made up, and the reason you want the extra opinion is that you don’t fully trust yourself and you’re hoping that Sally will approve of your idea?
We can’t control what others do but we can be sure as hell that we can control what we do with our lives.
7. Stop comparing your life to others
It’s so easy to get carried away and be lost in a frenzy by what others are doing with their lives.
What others do or don’t do with their lives is none of your business. You have no idea where that person came from or how long it took them to get to where they are now or their struggles.
Comparing your life to others is the quickest way to stay miserable since it can have you feeling like you need to keep up with the Joneses.
No matter what you achieve there is always someone who is 2,3 steps ahead. But what you have achieved is still worthwhile and worth celebrating so why compare yourself to someone else who isn’t you?
Comparing will always leave you with feelings of envy, hate, or bitterness and takes away gratitude and joy. You should only look to others as a source of inspiration or even as a sign that your manifestation is on the way.
8. Put yourself first
With the need for validation comes the need to continue to put other people’s needs, wants, and feelings constantly before yours.
This is self-abandonment and over time the need to put everyone else before yourself will lead to mistreatment from others, sometimes even entitlement to your giving nature, being overlooked and taken for granted.
Ask yourself if people-pleasing is worth the emotional self-neglect that comes with it.
Ask yourself if they cared about your feelings would you be in this position where you have to choose them over yourself?
And do you think that if the tables were turned that they would genuinely do the same?
Nothing good comes from people pleasing unless you want to live in resentment, anger, burnout, and depression.
Related : The Danger Of Being A People Pleaser
9. Don’t follow the crowd
Don’t jump on trends that don’t resonate with you. This could apply to a lot of things – the way you wear your hair, your style, your idea of what fun is, your aesthetic, your music preferences, your sexuality, and whether or not you choose to drink or do drugs.
If you’re friends with people who make you feel uncomfortable expressing yourself in a way that is authentic to you, then you need new friends.
You shouldn’t be made to feel pressured to do anything because your friends think is cool and you shouldn’t feel less because you’re into a certain type of music and most people are into more mainstream music.
Just go out and look for people who are into what you are into, because there is nothing worse than doing something you know you don’t like but you do it anyway because ‘what would other people think of me?’ There is no worse soul-sucking feeling than that, it is seriously cringe-worthy!
10. Speak your truth
How refreshing would it be if we lived in a world where people say what they mean and mean what they say?
We live in a world where people will rather avoid the truth and live in denial. They say the truth hurts but living in denial hurts even more.
And though there is a chance you might unintentionally hurt someone else’s feelings. That is completely out of your control and some things are better off said because it frees you and the other person.
If something bothers you just speak your truth and be authentic. If you aren’t authentic in your communication, you end up hurting yourself and other people even more so no one benefits.
Not only will it make you more confident standing up for yourself, but you are also giving your inner child some love.
The Courage To Show Up Authentically
Living for yourself means prioritizing your wants, needs, and desires in a way that aligns with your values and goals.
It’s important to find a balance between taking care of yourself and being considerate of others rather than constantly seeking the approval of others.
Here are some consequences for not living for yourself;
1. People pleasing
2. Comparing your life to others
3. Saying what others want to hear
4. Doing things you don’t like because others are doing it
5. Looking to others to escape as a form of distraction from yourself
6. Constantly seeking perfection
7. Not being genuinely happy or feeling like yourself
8. Doing things that make you cringe at yourself
9. Feeling like you let yourself down and are self-abandoning
10. Copying other people’s style/lifestyle
11. Ignoring your gut feeling
12. Making decisions based on how much validation you will get
13. Allowing other people to tell you who you are
I hope the 10 tips I listed has inspired you to start living for yourself and not others, let me know if you have any other thoughts and opinions on this.