What would you do differently if you weren’t looking for other people’s approval? Would you be living a more authentic life?
From the moment we’re born we are guided and influenced by the people and culture around us. Whether it’s our parents telling us to sit up straight, society telling us good girls get married and have babies, or capitalism telling us we need to be productive every minute of the day. Those messages create a matrix of expectations that can weigh on us well into our adult lives.
There are two main problems with trying to live up to all these expectations. Firstly, it’s impossible; and second and more importantly, it’s a sure-fire recipe for an unhappy life.
You are an individual. You’re born into this world with billions of cells with a unique combination of genetic information. You literally are one of a kind. But knowing yourself and what you want isn’t always so straightforward. It takes work to unpeel the layers of conditioning and discover your authentic life path. The weight of others’ expectations, however, will lead us astray. It will lead us down a different path than we would have chosen for ourselves, had we not been subjected to their influence.
You will only find true happiness by living in authentic alignment with your own values, beliefs, and life goals. Unfortunately, committing to that path also relies heavily on us taking radical responsibility for our lives and, inevitably, disappointing many people along the way.
Locus of control
In order live your most authentic life, you first need to accept that you are 100% in control of it. That means no blaming external forces, whether that is the economy, your lack of time, and especially not other people. It even means not blaming your trauma, taking steps to heal it, and not waiting for someone to come and save you.
Taking responsibility for yourself also means knowing what you’re not responsible for. You must understand that you’re not responsible for how other people feel about the decisions you’re making. I know this can be a contentious view. I also know that there are many people who use this idea as an excuse to be an arsehole. The important distinction here is in your intention. If your intention is kind, while also acting and speaking authentically, then how that message or behaviour is received is not your responsibility.
Where we have an over-responsibility for someone else’s feelings or wishes, there is a risk that we water down our message, over-promise or frankly, betray ourselves. We can still care about people, but not be swayed by what they think of our life choices.
Not everyone is going to like you
The somewhat harsh reality is that in order to live a life that’s true to who you are, you’re going to get some people offside. Maybe you’ll disappoint your mother if you decide you don’t want to get married. Perhaps you’ll disappoint your friends if you decide you don’t want to drink alcohol anymore. Possibly you’ll disappoint your boss if you decide not to take that promotion and pursue a new career entirely.
Sometimes it’s not even disappointment. There will be people who simply don’t like you. Their reason may be because you dress wrong, you’re too loud, you have a different political opinion, or any other random reason. The reality is that them not liking you is not about you and it’s most definitely not your responsibility.
In fact, having people not like you is a sign that you’re living your truth. It’s also a beacon of light letting other like-minded people know where to find you.
You’ve only got one life
What does this have to do with money, I hear you ask? Everything and nothing.
Your money is simply a tool. It’s there to support you in living the life you want. It has the potential to bring you closer to that life. But it also has the potential to lead you astray. Sometimes we think we would be happier if only we had more money, a bigger house, a nicer wardrobe or some other external achievement. But what I know to be true is that true financial freedom is about more than just money.
That is why knowing yourself, what you’re working towards, and why, is so important. If you don’t do that work, you may wake up years from now wondering why you’ve been working so hard your whole life for someone else’s definition of success. Or put another way, we discover we’ve spent our whole lives buying things we don’t need to impress people we don’t even know, like or respect.
Taking control of your money is taking control of your life – and vice versa. That is why any decision you make about your financial life needs to consider you as a whole person. You need to curate your financial life from the inside out.
“We all have two lives and the second one begins when we realise we only have one.” – Confucius