Recently, during a speaking engagement, a woman in the audience asked me a question that would have been very difficult for me to answer a few years ago:
“On your positivity journey, what has been the one life lesson that has been the hardest for you to learn?”
Without any hesitation, I looked out at the audience and gave her my honest answer:
“Without question, the hardest life lesson that I’ve learned is that I have nothing to prove to anyone. Absolutely nothing.”
It took me a while (read: most of my adult life) to get to this point, but I’m here now and I cannot describe the amount of peace, freedom and happiness this simple lesson has given to me.
If you’re not there yet, I’m here to help you get there, today.
You have nothing to prove to anyone, and I’ll do everything in my power to convince you that it’s true.
Comparison = Death
Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Okay, I’ll admit that the “comparison equals death” thing is a little dramatic, but I really want this point to hit home.
The truth is that there will always be people in this world who are smarter than us, better looking than us, wealthier than us, more influential than us, better writers than us (Can I stop now? I think you get the point.)
The problem is that I used to compare myself to these people constantly, and predictably, the outcome didn’t play out very well for me (because like most people, I would compare the worst of myself against the best of others.)
There are few things in this world that are more soul-destroying than the need to measure up to other people in order to validate your self-worth. Regardless of what you might believe, you don’t need to measure up, or prove your self-worth to anyone.
Your standards for your life are the only standards that matter.
Once you soak in the simplicity of the previous sentence, you’ll experience more freedom than you ever have in your life.
One thing is for sure–if your life is centered on comparing yourself to others, one of two things will inevitably happen:
- You will be horribly depressed thinking about the amount of people who are “better” than you.
- You will end up acting like you’re superior to the people who you believe you’re “better” than.
Like I said, it took me a while to get to this point, but please take it from me: there is nothing to be gained from needing the praise, adoration, or acceptance of others in order to feel good about yourself.
I’m urging you to reject that hamster wheel and place all of your energy toward always remembering this instead:
Your life will positively transform the moment that you stop worrying about impressing other people (including your parents, your significant other, your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, etc.) and start focusing on living authentically.
Two Simple Truths
If you still think that you have something to prove to other people, hopefully the two following truths will help. I cannot even express how much I wish that I learned these years ago:
1) People are going to judge you no matter what you do.
Yep, it doesn’t matter what you do, people are going to judge you for it.
- If you choose to go to the gym consistently and drink kale smoothies all day long or if you stay at home and stuff Big Macs in your face for three meals a day, people will judge you either way.
- If you choose to have kids or if you choose not to have kids, people will judge you either way.
- If you choose to shop at Bloomingdale’s or if you choose to shop at Walmart, people will judge you either way.
- If you choose to smile at strangers or if you choose to rock a “perma-scowl” on your face all day, people will judge you either way.
No matter what you do, judgment from others will always be an unavoidable part of life. And since that’s the case, there really is only one logical thing to do from this point forward:
Be real and live your truth.
You don’t need to prove to the world that you “made it” or act like someone who you’re not in hopes of impressing people who you probably don’t even give a damn about anyway. Chasing the approval of the people who will judge you regardless of what you do is complete insanity.
Just be authentically you, and more importantly–be okay with being authentically you.
2. No one really cares anyway.
This was the hardest lesson of all for me to believe, but it’s so true.
I know that this sounds like a contradiction to the first point, but it isn’t at all.
It’s true that people may judge you, but after spending 30-40 seconds doing it, they’re completely over it.
Most people don’t give any real energy to the clothes that you’re wearing, the person you’re dating, the business/blog that you’re starting, the diet you’re about to start, the car you drive, the way you’re raising your kids, etc. Sure, it’s a big deal to you, but after they’re done making a quick judgment about it, they go back to spending the other 99.8% of their days thinking thoughts like these:
- “I have so much to do today!”
- “I hate the way that I look in these pants.”
- “I wonder what’s for dinner tonight?”
- “Man, I’m so tired…”
- “I can’t wait for my vacation to start!”
- “Ugh, this job is driving me insane…”
- “I really need to call the plumber about my leaky bathroom sink…”
Regardless of what the thoughts are, I can pretty much guarantee that majority of most people’s thoughts have very little to do with you.
I know that sounds a little harsh, but it’s actually a good thing.
It’s freeing because it shows how insane it is to prove our worth to people who are too caught up in their own to drama to care about whether we prove our worth to them or not.
Most importantly, there’s only one person who has the power to decide your worth, and that person is you.
Don’t put your happiness, inner peace, and sanity at risk by giving that power to anyone else.
Nothing to Prove to Anyone
Two years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Brilliance of Quitting that had the potential of being destroyed by my readers.
It’s slightly controversial, it’s not something that many people are comfortable saying publicly, and it flies in the face of conventional wisdom.
While that’s all true, I posted it anyway without even a millisecond of hesitation, and it’s still one of my favorite blog posts to date.
Why was it so easy to post it?
I did it because I remembered something very simple:
I have nothing to prove to anyone.
I don’t need to live up to anyone’s ideal of who I should be, what I should write about, how I should write it, or any other silliness. All that I have to do is be authentically me, and a huge part of that authenticity is writing about topics that I believe deeply in.
Now, it’s time for some tough questions for you:
What do you believe you’re capable of doing? What do you give a damn about more than anything? What do you value, really?
Once you answer those three questions, and as long as those answers don’t hurt you or anyone else, I’m urging you to honor those answers with every fiber of your being.
The truth is that we all only get one shot at this life, and it’s not worth wasting a minute of it chasing the approval of anyone outside of ourselves.
Instead, use your only shot at this life to bravely speak your truth before it’s too late.
After all, no one else can do it besides you.
Most importantly, commit to living authentically, reject the need to impress “the cool kids” of the world, and always remember this life-changing truth:
You have nothing to prove to anyone.
Do you feel a need to chase others approval and/or impress them? Do you feel like you have nothing to prove? Either way, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!