There are so many little ways we give away our power throughout the day: the moments we bend under the pressure to constantly appease, the moments we compromise parts of ourselves, the moments we keep quiet about something that upsets us, rather than rise despite the discomfort. The comments we let slide, though we're aggravated and insulted; the ways we let ourselves be walked on because more than anything, "good people" are unconditional peacekeepers, no matter what it means for their wellbeing. Sometimes it doesn't even help to recognize the pattern, because it is an incredibly difficult cycle to break.
These are just side-effects though, the results of deeply ingrained lines of thinking. Most of the ways we let other people control our lives is in what we subconsciously believe, and how we behave because of those unchosen, consequential ideas. Once you're aware of the ways this is happening, though, you're that much closer to curbing the behavior and finally steering yourself in the right direction. So here, the eight most overlooked among them — the ways you're giving other people control of your life (without even realizing that you are.)
You still want romantic love to come in and make your life different than it is
You're smart enough to know that love won't save you per se, but you haven't quite gotten past the idea that love will make your life better, and you'd be right. It will make your life better — but not because someone else gives it to you. We desire external love when we feel we can't activate the happiness in our lives by ourselves. The reality is that we create the love we experience — and then share it with someone who can share theirs with us. That's where the magic happens. Not in the belief that your life won't start and your happiness won't completely exist until you've gotten someone to vow that they'll do it for you forever.
You believe that to be "selfless" is to put other people before your own needs, no matter what
The first and most crucial step of being truly helpful or unconditionally kind is helping and being kind to yourself. If you're an empty gas tank, you can't carry anyone anywhere. Being "selfless" can only happen when you've reached a point in your evolution where you know that making sacrifices for someone else won't hurt you, won't end you, and won't be a burden on you. Until you're in that place, "selfless" is just another word for "socially obligated to be nice no matter what."
You feel judged by "people," but you can't put faces to who all these "people" are
The faceless mob you fear is a projection. As long as you don't feel as though you'll be OK on your own, you're going to turn to an idea of what you assume other people would find acceptable by constantly put yourself up against those images. It's destructive, debilitating, anxiety-inducing, and ultimately just the product of believing that healing your own self-image is a matter of living up to someone else's.
Your emotions hinge on other people's actions
Your life is a projection and reflection of your innate state of being. If you're filled with fear, you're going to see the impossibilities of things. If you're resisting some part of yourself because you dislike it, it's natural to have a strong emotional response when you see somebody else doing the same thing. When you know that you are the basis, the lens, the focus of how you perceive the world, you start to take your own self-work a lot more seriously (and rarely become upset with the ways in which you perceive other people to be maddening and impossible).
You conduct your life based on beliefs you have accepted, even though they don't all sit right with you
Maybe you pray to a God you don't believe is really there. You make major choices in your life simply because that's "how things should be" — or in other words, "how they are in the particular circle from which you hail." Until you've developed your own life philosophy — from choice, experience, books, reading, research, and just general self-growth — you will be perpetually at the whim of a life you never chose, created from beliefs you never actually felt were true.
You think that you exist in proportion to other people
The most common advice doled out, especially to young women, is "not to compare yourself to others" — which is frustrating, because it's like, "Yeah, no kidding... how the hell do I do that?" It comes down to really understanding the need to compare — why this manic, competitive nature exists. It's that we believe we exist in proportion, and that people on the upper scale of attractiveness, intelligence, accomplishment, will proportionately receive that much more love and joy and fun in their lives, though in reality, that is of course not the case at all. Simply: one person being who seems less attractive to you doesn't make you more attractive. Someone else's failures don't magically turn your life into a success. It's the product of not "living" as much as you are "defining," quantifying, reasoning, explaining, proving. All of those things are meant to be consumed by somebody else.
Your self-esteem is based on external things
You're fixated on things like how well you dress, or how successful you are at work, so your state-of-mind constantly rests on whether or not other people appear to have accepted you. You will be at the constant whim of other people's passing comments and random opinions, when the only self-esteem you have developed is that which is material. Self-confidence is not "I have a successful career" — it's "I have a career I am grateful for and I do what I like every day, but it's not who I am." We basically accept "self-esteem" to be that which we can prove to others is true of us, when in reality, it's how deeply we are convicted that we are good at our core. Without that, we develop an insatiable hunger for the worst kind of external approval... the kind that only exists in our minds.
You love somebody who does not return the sentiment more than you do yourself
What happens is that you begin subconsciously adapting to their ideals. You start dressing a little differently, speaking a little differently, developing beliefs and attitudes that you start to believe are ideal because they do. (The correlation here is, they're great, and their disinterest implies that you aren't good enough ... so you should change.) When your locus of self-control is planted in someone else, especially for an extended period of time, you slowly but surely become the person they are in an effort to win their love. Your entire life becomes about appeasing them, though you don't realize it at the time. The number one sign of this is feeling as though losing this person would be the most devastating blow from which you'd never recover. That means your concept of "self" (which is your mind's idea of safety, security, purpose) is completely tied up in them... and completely disconnected from you.
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