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Are you aware of how invested you are in getting people to like you? It’s astonishing, the lengths that some will go in order to be liked and accepted by others. In fact, some people carefully monitor their behavior to avoid negative judgment altogether. This is especially true for those unfortunate enough to have grown up in a household where family members continually pointed out what they were doing wrong. An unhealthy environment can lead to deep feelings of inadequacy. It can also make people lean towards becoming perfectionists and people pleasers.

If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to stop putting all your energy in trying to please others and redirect it towards pleasing yourself. The truth is that it’s impossible to be liked and accepted by everyone. Not everyone is going to fall in love with you, no matter how hard you try; just accept that fact. Humans are by nature judgmental; that’s just the way the mind works.  You don’t have to trap yourself in a self-made prison of people pleasing. Instead, learn ways to free yourself. Here are four ways to let go of fear.

1) Realize that feelings are fleeting.

Everything is continuously changing. Nothing is permanent. Although it may feel devastating when you embarrass yourself by doing or saying something regretful, most people will not remember it. In fact, everyone is usually wrapped up in their own thoughts of how to get by; you are just a blip on their screen. We make judgments all the time and don’t remember half of them. What most people remember are the big things, like the way they feel.

2) Learn to laugh at yourself.

Lighten up! Learn not to take yourself so seriously. Even though it may feel like life or death, it’s not. When you can laugh at yourself, you are taking your power back. Be in charge of how you choose to view what is happening to you, always choose to feed your positivity. Laughter will loosen you up. Self-judgment will shut you down.

3) You cannot avoid judgment.

So embrace it. No matter how perfect you try to be, there will always be someone who thinks you’re not. Let it go. Everyone will have an opinion about you. So what? Choose to focus on the people who love and accept you just as you are, and let go of the critical people in your life. Remember, “The surest way to lose your self-worth is by trying to find it through the eyes of others.” – Becca Lee.

4) Stop judging yourself.

You have no idea how damaging self-criticism is. What you say to yourself is what you will believe about yourself. How do you expect to feel good when you feed yourself criticism instead of praise? In Alice in Wonderland, there is a line that says something like, “ If you continue to drink from a bottle marked poison on a daily basis, it’s bound to affect you sooner or later.” Negative self-talk is like poison to your beautiful spirit. Learn to love and accept yourself. Self-acceptance can be the most liberating feeling in the world.

In the wise words of Aristotle, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Instead of wasting time and energy transforming yourself into someone else’s vision of who you should be, work through the obstacles of self-acceptance. And I do mean work, because it just doesn’t magically happen. Group therapy is a wonderful venue to learn how to be your authentic self in the presence of others. Your wounds were caused by others and they need to be healed through others. To find a group near you, go to AGPA’s (American Group Psychotherapy Association) website and find a qualified group therapist in your area. For more information and the benefits of group therapy take a peek here.

Redirect your journey towards having non-judgmental openness to yourself, and learn to welcome whatever is put on your path, good or bad, and the quality of your life will become richer.

***Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.***

Bonnie Katz, MFT is a licensed therapist in private practice. Her goal as a therapist is to help clients reach “optimal mental wellness”, so that they can feel happiness, fulfillment and joy in their everyday lives. For more information on Bonnie’s therapy practice, visit her website.