It may not seem as though we are actually trying to live our lives to impress others. However, if any of the words in this article resonate with you,  your default method may be to see how you’re looking in order to gauge “how you’re doing”. (In other words, how you’re keeping up appearances.)

The temptation is quite alluring in our social-media world today. Posts about picturesque situations and lives abound. One might even state that there’s no point in posting about negativity or hard times, which is a valid point of view. However, there is often some resulting confusion between how things look and what’s really going on, since what we see can often seem like the whole story.

Even out in the “real world”, we don’t want to make ourselves look bad. We want to appear as if we’ve got everything under control. It’s understandable. But what if we are taking this to an extreme? What if we are so concerned about fitting in and about what others think that we are afraid to make a decision or embark on a journey—simply because we’re afraid of what others might think?

There are many steps we can take to follow our own lead. These steps are a process of looking within so we don’t need to worry about what others think.

1. It’s most likely that no one’s really watching anyway. At least not for long.

Sure, our friends and family may see our latest Facebook post or ask what we’re up to at a family event and form an opinion (either expressed or not). It won’t be long before they are on their way though. People are so busy with their own lives that they’re not really giving us that much thought anyway. That’s not to say they don’t care. Our fast-paced lives don’t seem to allow us that much time! 

2. Your top advisor is you.

As adults, we have the absolute right to make our own decisions. This may seem like an obvious statement, yet it’s something we can easily forget. Although we may seek and receive advice from well-meaning people in our lives, the final choice is ours each day, just as it it is not our responsibility to parent in the same way that our neighbor or other parents on our children’s sports teams might. Each decision we make has to be based on what works for us, not what on what others are doing or think we should do.

3. The permission of others is not necessary.

Once an undertaking has begun or a decision has been made, there is no need to submit to others for approval. Approval-seeking is often a fruitless endeavor. Since no one really is in our shoes, when we are seeking approval, we are really asking someone else to know what it’s like to be us. Then we unconsciously expect that someone to agree with us. Why should we give our power away and cast unrealistic expectations on others?

4. Look within.

This is actually much simpler than one would think. A few minutes of meditation or just closing one’s eyes and doing some deep, slow breathing in a quiet space can help us shut out the noise of the world every day. By doing this and focusing on the breath we can literally learn how to listen to ourselves. It’s also nice to have the added benefits that can come from slowing down a bit!

5. Take care of and guard your energy. 

Thinking about or worrying about what others think of us can seriously drain our energy. Unhealthy attachments form in our energy systems, especially (but not limited to) the 2nd or navel chakra, the heart chakra and the 6th or third-eye chakra. Since everything is energy we can start with taking care of our own energy. Once we learn how to care for our energy systems and clear those unhealthy attachments, outside influences lose their ability to affect us.

Fortunately these steps do not need to prevent us from enjoying relationships with others. However, with a little time and consistent practice, there is much we can do to live life truly on our own terms. It can be so freeing to not feel the need to impress anyone!