This can slowly happen over time as the result of media messaging, culture, family, friends, or anyone else whose opinion you care about.
Many people tell me they feel a constant internal pressure to be helpful and liked by people around them. The last thing they would want to be is judged for anything they said or did,or be called selfish. I admit, it feels good to help others and to know we are needed, but if those positive feelings come at a significant cost to your mental health, your free time and your coping, it is not worth it.
Maybe you feel like you need to talk and act like someone you aren’t around certain people because you are afraid to reveal yourself fully to them, in case they don’t accept you. Glennon Doyle’s new book “Untamed” talks about the phenomenon of women “taming themselves” to fit in with those around them so they feel a sense of belonging.
It's also known as social programming. She explains that people end up slowly abandoning themselves and their gut instincts, rather than abandoning other’s expectations for them, in search of perfection in their lives. She argues we should instead create a life outside to match our insides. Definite food for thought.
As individuals we are taught that there are certain things that earn us value and respect. If you are sick of fulfilling others’ expectations of you rather than your own, you can learn to stop. You can decide to take charge of your life and meet your own expectations and needs.
To really do this well, I believe we need self-acceptance, logic AND intuition to make the decisions that will be best for us. Instead of trying to self-improve, you could strive to self-accept.
Sometimes that is hard to do. I’ve personally decided to take a page from Glennon’s book and spend a few minutes every day sitting quietly in my closet to confront what I’ve been avoiding and really focus inward instead of out.