I spent the majority of my life trying to please everyone around me.  I was completely consumed with trying to gain others’ approval.  I wanted everyone I came into contact with to like me and think I was a “good” person.  Ultimately, I needed them to validate me so I felt worthwhile and loved.

What a colossal waste of time. 

Allowing other people to determine how I operated my life was incredibly inefficient, but even worse, it resulted in a lot of unhealthy behaviors:

No boundaries.  I had no idea how to say no.  I didn’t want to let anyone down, so I said yes to everything, which usually led to overwhelm, resentment, and frustration.

Perfectionism.  I couldn’t bear to appear as though I were imperfect (you know… human).  The amount of time I spent trying to convince others that I had no flaws is staggering.

Put Myself Last.  Everyone else’s needs were much more important than mine, which means my needs were hardly ever met.  I was constantly running on empty.

Expected others to return the favor.  Since I never had time to take care of my own needs, I started looking to those closest to me to fill the void.  I spent a lot of years trying to convince my loved ones to return the favor and take care of me first.  Needless to say, I was never satisfied with their efforts.  I got caught up in a negative back and forth with them, rather than just setting appropriate boundaries and doing what I needed to for myself.

I held myself back.  I avoided true personal growth because I was afraid of leaving behind my loved ones who “needed” me.  I also didn’t want to stand out as someone who thought she was “better” than everyone else, so I hid my full potential.

Lived in fear.  Oh, the fear was palpable.  Everywhere I turned, I was afraid of disappointing others and losing their approval.  Ironically, the more I tried to please everyone else, the less I pleased anyone (especially myself).  It was exhausting, and extremely unproductive.

I felt like happiness was just out of reach throughout most of my entire life, but I didn’t know why.  Once I finally figured it out – that the key to a fulfilling, balanced, and connected life was authenticity – it changed everything for me.

I took the first step to becoming authentic when I finally allowed myself to take an honest look at who I really was, without the filter of others’ opinions.

I completed a personal inventory of my life, which allowed me to evaluate, acknowledge, and then accept all of the traits I considered both “bad” and “good” within myself.  This process of completing a personal inventory was the key to unlocking my authenticity.  Before I finished this inventory, I simply didn’t know who I was.  And since I was so unaware of my true self, I was susceptible to everyone else’s agenda, opinions, and criticisms.

Here is what I learned after I completed my personal inventory:

I began to realize that no one is perfect.  Instead, I began to strive for excellence (not perfection) in everything I did, but I stopped berating myself if and when I fell short of my goals.  I just did a little course correction, and moved forward.  I focused on the principle of “progress, not perfection.”  I gave myself permission to “fail” (I prefer the term “experiment” now), and started looking for the lessons when my experiments didn’t work out.

I learned to embrace the messiness and the vulnerability of real life.  

I was able to open up honestly to other people about my flaws, my strengths, my opinions, and what I wanted to do better in life.

I learned how to utilize my “bad” traits in a healthy way, instead of constantly trying to deny, avoid or run away from them.

I began to set boundaries with others.  I stopped doing things out of obligation, and instead made sure I was giving from a place of abundance, joy, and commitment.

I stopped expecting others to meet my needs too.  Instead, I asked myself what I wanted them to do for me, and found a way to do it for myself.  I stopped trying to manipulate and control my friends and family into doing something for me that I could do myself.  I released them from the responsibility of making me whole.

I learned that trying to be everything to everybody wasn’t going to get me anywhere. 

I stopped trying to pretend I was anything other than who I really was.  I accepted my shortcomings as areas where I was still developing as a person.  I stopped judging myself for not having it all figured out, and instead focused on improving where I could.

I began to have compassion for others who were also struggling.  I could finally see myself in them, and instead of feeling like it was my job to “fix” them, I could set aside my judgments and just support them in making whatever changes they were ready for in their lives.

I stopped trying to control situations to avoid confrontation.  I became less afraid of conflict as I learned how to speak my truth and allow others to speak theirs.  Differences of opinion became less contentious.  Since I was coming from a place of acceptance and focused more on finding a mutually beneficial solution, my relationships became more respectful and loving.

As working parents, we are at an especially high risk of giving up our true selves in order to get through the day.  We feel like we need to be “dutiful employees,” “loving spouses,” or “good parents,” and we put our needs aside in an effort to help everyone around us.

Our intentions are good, but suppressing who we really are and what we need is a key factor in feeling out of control, overwhelmed and exhausted.

There are a million productivity tips and tricks out there.  But the truth is that the most effective way to reclaim control of your life is to begin to accept who you truly are, and to express yourself in the most authentic way possible.

No facades to please others.

No settling for less.

No apologies.

Just be you.

Learn more about the Whole SELF Lifestyle™ to guide you toward the life you crave.