Too many people are concerned about what others think – how we look, how we dress, what we do, how we speak, how rich (or poor) we are and on and on and on. Some people dress to please others. Some people change their behavior to please others. We screw up our health by going on crash and bizarre diets, overworking at the gym or staying up too late when we’re tired. We eat stuff we hate, we do things we don’t like and we hang out with folks we don’t enjoy – all in an effort to please others. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s one particular person that we feel we must please or everyone we meet.
So, do I please others? I don’t know and I don’t care.
The truth is that many people are so self absorbed that they aren’t thinking about me at all. They are worried about what they’re gonna say next or thinking about what to cook for dinner. And if they don’t care enough about me to resist critiquing and judging me, what do I care if I please them anyway? I probably couldn’t please them if I were the smartest, most attractive, most interesting person on earth – because it’s not about me – it’s all about them.
To me it’s about self-esteem. As I come to like myself more and like who I am, I am less concerned about what any one else thinks of me. I know who I am and I don’t need to be like anyone else. It is a fact that there are no two people on the planet who are exactly alike and that’s how it’s supposed to be. We can’t all be runway models or muscle men. We can’t all be on the far right side of the bell shaped curve intellectually or financially. We can’t all be famous or infamous. What I can be is exactly who I am.
Some people go about self improvement to become something or someone they aren’t. They get their hair done like some movie star and try to dress, walk and talk like her (or him). They try diet after diet because they want to be like the anorexic thin models they see on TV or maybe return to the size of the younger version of themselves that they dream about being. It won’t work.
Real self improvement involves tuning in more and more to who you really are and fine tuning that – improving your assets and reducing your liabilities – for your sake and not to please anyone else. For instance if I have a talent behind the camera and I like to take photographs, that could be something that I might like to improve so I can enjoy it a whole lot more. If I love to cook, I might want to learn all I can about food, nutrition and cooking – for my own enjoyment. If I like to write I will want to improve my writing skills just for the fun of it. Who knows – a benefit of my improvement for my sake may lead to helping many others, or giving them enjoyment or putting me on center stage. But the person I need to please the most is me.
A rule of thumb is, “The better I feel about my self, the more able I am to give to others.” The starting place? Do an honest assessment of your strengths – get someone to help you if you need to. Begin to fine tune your strengths. Many times, when you do that, the weakness take care of themselves.
And anyway, what other people think of me is none of my business.