You know the feeling when someone is trying to pressure you into doing something? Sometimes they apply persuasion, other times they try reverse psychology (e.g. “what, are you scared?”). In other instances, they may use social pressure to push you to do what they want you to.
I laugh when I see people doing it. When I see someone fall for it, I will literally stop them and ask them what they’re doing. They have a choice! Why do something without considering if it’s really what they want, just because of someone else’s expectations?
At a high level, if we try to live our lives catering to someone else’s opinion, do we have agency? Are we living with our own decisions, on our own terms? In my experience, this is harder to realize and correct than I think. In the past, I used to worry about saying things that could be tough for someone to accept, and would be slightly less candid than I would’ve liked to be. But now, I believe that not saying something candidly and authentically is actually detrimental to people I care about. I’m responsible for doing the right thing and being fair, while they’re responsible for what they make of it and responding as they want to.
And that’s just one simple example. Imagine everything that everyone has ever told us we need to be. That all adds up to so many subconscious expectations that we may not even be aware of. Whenever I become aware of an influence like that, I stop, reflect and try to figure out what to do about it.
On the flip side, I run the risk of going too far with resisting overt pressure. I sometimes refuse to do things that may be good for me just to prove a point. And that’s bad, of course! I don’t want to rebel for the sake of it. I have to remind myself to keep an open mind, and to be rational with things. Everything in life needing balance is hard. But always play your own game.
Remember, you do it for yourself, not for others.
September 15, 2021