12 reasons to stop trying to prove yourself to others

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We tend to want others to know that we’re skilled enough or creative enough for the job.

While it’s important to keep improving ourselves, this reliance on the approval of others usually comes from unresolved insecurities within us.

We feel like we aren’t enough, which isn’t true.

As writer Austin Kleon writes, “Validation is for parking.” The fact is that we can never reach everyone’s standards. And that’s okay.

What’s important is that we always try to give our best effort.

Here are 12 reasons why exactly doing your best is already enough, regardless of what other people might say about you.

1. There Will Always Be Someone Who Doesn’t Like You

You may not even like everyone that you meet, so how can you expect everyone to like you?

In a sea of compliments and messages of support, it’s always that one negative remark that will imprint itself on our minds.

Why? That’s because of our negativity bias.

A study found that bad feedback, bad impressions, and even bad emotions tend to have a greater impact than good ones.

It found that it’s because we usually expect good behavior from people, so hearing something bad throws us off.

Negative comments aren’t as bad as we make it out to be, however.

We have the power to ignore it and focus on the good comments, or more importantly, what we think of our own selves.

2. If You Don’t Fail, You’ll Never Succeed

Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Unless you’re a savant or a prodigy, achieving success on your first try is unlikely.

Think about the first time you learned how to ride a bike. The training wheels make riding it easy but it also limits your movement.

Once they came off, you wobbled and toppled over just trying to ride normally.

Eventually, after all those tries, you could ride it without falling over.

If you had stopped simply because you kept falling down, you would never have been able to ride it without training wheels.

We tend to have a fear of failure because it might make us look bad or incompetent.

But we’ll never succeed if we don’t try — and fail more times than we might like to.

3. The People That Matter Want You To Be You

In the film Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, the socially dense character Drax says to the innocent alien Mantis, “When you’re ugly and someone loves you, you know they love you for who you are; beautiful people never know who to trust.”

We often buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. The “satisfaction” that we gain from being accepted is only fleeting.

Our families and friends have seen the “real” us: the us that procrastinate while eating ice cream and watching sitcom reruns.

We each have our own flaws and quirks; if someone can’t accept us despite that, then they aren’t worth the time.

4. No One Sets The Standard

In 2009, basketball player Stephen Curry received a scathing draft report. “Steph’s explosiveness and athleticism are below standard,” it says, “Do not rely on him to run your team.”

Years later, he would become one of the most effective players in the NBA, winning the MVP award 2 years in a row.

Time and again we read stories about how many times a successful person was rejected based on another person’s mistaken judgment on their skills.

That only shows you that people are mortal; they can be wrong.

So if someone says that your work isn’t good enough, take it with a grain of salt; it’s an opportunity to prove them wrong.

5. People’s Opinions Of You Are Out Of Your Hands

When you’re writing a novel or painting your next artwork, it can be easy to worry about what others might think of it.

As nice as it would be, we, unfortunately, don’t have any mind manipulation powers.

Once we’ve finished our work and sent it out into the world, it’s quite literally out of our hands — how people interpret it, evaluate it, and react to it is entirely up to them.

The best that we can do is to always do our best. Instead of asking, “Will other people like my work?”, a better question would be, “Was that the best that I could do?” If it wasn’t, we’re selling ourselves short. We’ve produced half-hearted material that will make people hate it even more.

6. Perfection Is A Myth

While perfectionism is a common trait among some of the generation’s most influential creators — from Steve Jobs to Kanye West — worrying about every single detail still leads to undue stress and mental health issues.

Perfection is subjective. The perfect art piece to someone can be a mishmash of colors to another.

People are the same way; no one is perfect, and that’s okay. It’s the imperfections that highlight that person’s uniqueness and identity.

Learning to own your imperfection makes you impervious to what others say about you.

7. Achievements Are Subjective

What is success to you?

In essence, success simply means the attainment of a goal. We all have our own definitions of what success looks like.

Conventional ideas might be driving luxury cars or owning a 10-bedroom manor.

While it may be a lavish lifestyle, a homebody would have little use for a luxury car, and a traveler would barely be home enough to enjoy their manor.

This means that if you define success as making it to the end of the day without too much drama, then you might already be well on your way to being successful.

8. There Are Better Uses Of Time And Energy

The time you spend worrying about what other people think can be better spent putting your effort into making it the best work that you possibly can.

Time spent browsing social media and feeling jealous of others could be better spent learning how to improve your skills.

9. Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight

The “overnight success” is, in fact, found at the top of months and years of dedication and hard work.

Getting a chiseled body isn’t something that you suddenly wake up with; it takes time spent maintaining a proper diet and never missing a workout.

If you aren’t seeing the results that you want right now, don’t give up. It will take time.

As long as you’re making 1% progress every day, as writer James Clear suggests, you will achieve your goals sooner than you think.

10. Pleasing Others Only Holds You Back

“Never play to the gallery”, says Musician David Bowie in an interview, “I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations; they generally produce their worst work when they do that.”

When you create a song or write a short story, trying to keep in mind what others might think will only impede your creativity.

When you try to please everyone, no one is going to remember you.

Author Seth Godin once wrote that playing it safe was risky. If you only go into a career because that’s what your family expects of you, it might hold you back in life.

It might stop you from living the life that you want to live — all because you chose to please others.

11. We Will Never Be Enough To Others

Other people are going to keep judging you no matter what you do. They are always going to see a flaw where you don’t.

When one person is satisfied with what you’ve created, another person might still feel like your work is lacking.

There are 7 billion people on the planet; trying to please all of them — from different backgrounds and with different standards of what’s good enough — is an impossible task.

That’s why business magnate Warren Buffett keeps what he calls, an “Inner Scorecard.”

It’s your own personal metric of success, based on what you can control, like your time management and effort. It’s your basis of what is and isn’t “enough”.

12. You Dictate Your Own Life Because It’s Yours After All

When you change the way you dress based on what other people think, who’s really dictating the course of your life? You or others?

It is your life; only you know what’s best for you. Other people don’t understand how comfy a certain piece of clothing feels on your body.

The only thing that we have in common is that we’re all different — and that’s okay. Each of our lives are unique, so we should truly make it our own.

We might’ve gotten used to having to prove ourselves to others — our teachers needed to grade us after all.

But once we’ve left school and entered the “real world”, no one is going to be evaluating our work as much anymore — their opinions wouldn’t matter much either.

That’s because the real world has no hard and fast rules.

Opinions are fickle. They ebb and flow with the times. When you continuously work on impressing yourself, only then will you escape the changing times; you will finally be free.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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