“Never underestimate the power of people’s need to belong and be accepted.”
I ran across this phrase the other day when I was reading a book on culture and student behaviors. I immediately thought about how true and powerful it is in both a positive and negative way. We are often telling our students to not worry about what other people say about them while we, as adults, often fall victim to the very same thing. The same appears to hold true for behaviors.
Just think about the last time someone said something negative that you didn’t agree with, but stayed silent. Or when you behaved differently because you knew the people near you at the time wouldn’t agree with or like what you said. Are there times you go along to get along? I know I have personally fallen victim to all of these scenarios. It is a fine line to walk, but in the end we must help our students be true to themselves through both encouragement and modeling. Students reading this are not an exception. If they are getting better at being who they truly are then they must assist their friends in the same.
Think about and then do the following:
Accept who you are and the fulfillment that comes from that. Its always easier to be who you are rather than trying to fit in with a specific group. Sure, its alluring to be part of a group and yes, it makes you feel good in the short term; but eventually you will come to realize that true happiness comes from being your true self; not a different version to fit in. It boils down to this: you don’t want to be somewhere you can’t be yourself. It causes stress and keeps you from forming any real bonds. Fulfillment comes from relationships built on who you really are when nobody else is watching.
Realize and accept that people are different. That doesn’t necessarily make them wrong; just different. You don’t have to be friends with everyone. It is perfectly fine to disagree. Clearly, this doesn’t apply to issues of poor or low character. Just make sure to reflect on the fact that everyone is different based on their experience in life. There will be people who stay close minded and believe everyone should be and act the same. Use their example to move in the other direction. You would want the same courtesy afforded you.
Don’t get caught up in living another person’s life. This is about drama and avoiding it. Sometimes you need to walk away from someone else’s needs, but can’t seem to do it. These are the times it is most important. Creating drama only causes more. Like the story of the good wolf and evil wolf. The one you feed more wins. let someone else feed the bad wolf while you move on to the good. Other people’s problems are not always yours. Even when they want to make them.
The main way to live out of this shadow of need is to identify our belief system. These three strategies are easy to understand, but difficult to consistently implement. Go out, discover who you really are, and then give being yourself the best shot possible. Trust me; you will thank yourself after you do because it gets easier, feels better, and leads to success much quicker than staying in the shadows.
I explain more (and from a different perspective in the video below. Have a listen and then do me a favor:
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