I have to be upfront with you guys. I’m confused. By just how much pressure we put on ourselves, to be successful in “the eyes of the world”. Instead of focusing on how to live more authentically, we pander to an imaginary audience.
We play ourselves into a standard that’s been shaped by ethereal, myriad, influences. Just like a puppeteer strings along a puppet, we do the very same thing to ourselves, under the misguiding, subtle guidelines around us.
We make choices based on what we think other people will think, often without even realizing it. But, they don’t care – not nearly as much we believe. And even if they did, what do you or me owe them?
(Note: We focus on other people so much, partly because we haven’t developed full confidence in our self-reliance at work. So, I have a special bonus. Make sure you read all the way to the end to get it.)
We Care Too Much about How we Look
I’m not saying it’s always bad to ponder how someone, whether close or distant, will view our actions. But more often than not, it isn’t important. In fact, it can make us leave the better play off the table, out of fear of being ridiculed, judged, or sometimes, even applauded.
We care too much about fitting or being seen by this illusory audience. Or we care too much about not being seen by this audience. This inherent complexity we struggle with is often at the very root of our bad or “acceptable” decisions.
We end up:
- Saying yes to an invitation we don’t really want to go to because we don’t want to let someone down.
- Sticking longer with the career we know isn’t right for us because we’re uncertain about what those around us will think about a change.
- Not practicing our passion because we don’t see enough other people doing it consistently e.g. skateboarding, or playing an instrument.
- Doing something just for the sake of applause, being recognized or approved of – even though we couldn’t care less about it.
There’s a Board of Advisers we’ve Allowed to Creep In
We compromise our lives – because of the shadowy figures in our psyche.
If this imaginary audience fell away (the complexity) from our minds and hearts, a shift would happen.
Life would be simpler, far simpler. We would end up making the best, more challenging choices, benefiting ourselves immeasurably – and ironically also – those who we fear will judge us. They either will eventually be inspired by our actions, or learn something from them.
Because whenever we live authentic lives, through the simple act of making a choice that’s true – we nurture that collective spirit of growth.
How Do we Live More Authentically?
In the moments of decision, we sow our character. Whenever we’re faced with a choice, and we don’t want to let down this imaginary audience, or want to please them, what can we do to step out of this illusory mirage, so that we make the right choice?
There is no audience.
It will always be just you, at this very moment. On the verge of making a decision, that can either improve or devalue you. Often, we just look at some our decisions as inconsequential in the long term e.g. not saying something you feel you should say.
But each bad decision we make or good decision we fail to make – lowers our self-esteem.
But each time we make a decision that’s true to our highest self, we end up reinforcing the habit of living simpler, authentic lives.
We end up growing our internal locus of control, what JB rotter called: “the degree to which persons expect that reinforcement or an outcome of their behavior is contingent on their own behavior or personal characteristics.”
“Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the goes down. And this is all that life really means.” – Dale Carnegie.
This quote from Dale Carnegie is far easier to embody when we give up this “imaginary audience”.
According to research, published in the journal Current Biology, activity in the ventral stratum, the brain reward center, lights up when we receive approval from others. We are clearly social creatures, but that doesn’t mean we should forget that our choices are ours to make, alone – in the spirit of what feels authentic to us.
A Recap on how to Live More Authentically
Here’s a quick recap of this article:
- We shouldn’t blame ourselves too much for caring about what other people think; it’s part of our biology. But just by being aware of it, we can let go and make better decisions.
- Every choice we make either improves or devalues our life. By making choices that improve our life, we’re also boosting our self-esteem.
- The eyes of the world don’t exist. There is no audience.
Since you’ve read this far, I’m going to offer you a FREE Bonus to help you make your work-life far more productive.
- First, I’ve included a methodology on how to split up your day into four chunks, so you’ll worry less about external influences each day.
- Second, I’ll show you how to consistently celebrate your small wins, so that you feel more creative and enthusiastic about what YOU are doing each day – and not what others are. And a lot more…
If you’d like to learn how to implement all of these strategies, click below to access my eBook (12 mins read).
1. Current Biology Journal report on ‘How the opinion of others affects our valuation of objects’ , D, K Campbell: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2810%2900595-6
2. Internal Control vs External Control of Reinforcement, J,B Rotter: http://www.changingstates.co.uk/tutorials/02-PG-Cert-Dip/Locus%20of%20control/Rotter1990.pdf
3. Philosopher Notes, 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem, B Johnson: http://experiencelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/70-the-six-pillars-of-self-esteem.pdf