“Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth becomes more important than looking good.” Alan Cohen
I thought I had a perfect life. I was married to a woman who I believed to be my soul-mate. I was employed as an attorney in a prestigious law firm.
We had a house, dreams, ambitions and so much to achieve in life.
Over the last few years, each of these things in my life began to unravel. I voluntarily left my job because the high-pressure and stress didn’t suit my soul or life purpose.
Our house left us due to the tanking economy.
My wife and I parted ways. And all our dreams and ambitions crumbled.
What had happened?
While I had created what seemed like the model life, I realized it wasn’t my life.
I had created a life based on societal norms and family expectations.
It was comfortable but not reflective of who I was.
In the years since my life began to deteriorate, I’ve started progressing to live my own life – an authentic life.
Every decision I now make is vetted to see if it’s in line with my true nature. I also stopped being concerned about irrelevant and trivial factors which had shaped my life into something that wasn’t me.
In order to live more authentically, I encourage you to stop caring about these ten factors. You’ll feel less pressure and stress, and start living the life you were meant to have.
10 Factors You Should Stop Caring About Today to be True to Yourself
1)Stop caring about what others think
So much of the time, you’re doing things out of social obligation or to fulfill someone else’s desire. If you don’t comply, you will get a bad name and have people speak ill of you. There are always going to be people speaking ill of you or not approving what you do. Why cater to them?
Start making decisions on what feels right to you instead of what will appease those around you.
The less you care about what others think and want, the more you can create the life you want for yourself.
2)Stop caring what others want you to do
Many of the people in your life are going to expect you to do certain things in your life to appease them.
Your parents may want you to enter a certain profession, marry a certain man, dress a certain way, visit condescending family members on holidays.
Although you do want to oblige, you can’t always live life for the family and friends in your life.
They want you to live life a certain way because they can’t stand uncertainty.
They know what’s worked for them and want you to follow a known path so you’ll succeed.
Know that you can succeed without a roadmap, it may just take a little longer.
You can reflect on their input in your life but blindly following someone else’s wishes can end with you living someone else’s life and not yours.
3)Stop caring about what others are doing
“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” Unknown
You’re not only being told what to do but you care too much about others and what they’re doing.They married so and so. They bought a car, a house, took a romantic trip to to the Greek islands.
You can’t compare yourself to those around you always because it is just going to fill your heart with jealousies and desires which aren’t even yours.
Does it make sense to buy a house that’s the same size as your neighbor’s just to keep up with the Patel’s or the Shah’s? No.
Stop comparing yourself to what others are doing and do what you want to do with your life.
You don’t know the debts your friends and neighbors are taking out to live the lifestyle they appear to be. You following suit will make you feel like you’re playing a constant game of catch-up.
4)Stop caring about how you’ll look to others
You may constantly be looking over your shoulder wondering what others will say about your chosen career, partner or business.
Does it matter if they see you struggling or failing?
Does it matter if they don’t approve?
All too often, it does matter to us. So instead of living the life we’re capable of, we live a people-pleasing life.
If you pay little attention to what others think, you’ll take more risks, live more passionately and achieve more of your dreams.
Sometimes, a little geographical distance or move by those who have the biggest influence on your life, can give you a little breathing room to pursue life on your terms.
5)Stop caring about expectations
“We want you to have a baby. Ok, 2 babies. Fine, 3.”
We want you to be so wealthy that you don’t have to work by the time you’re 30.”
“We want you to be a professional so that you’re making our family look good and everyone else’s kid is a professional also yaar.”
The problem with all these expectations of you is that it only allows for others to feel content to see you fulfilling their expectations.
When you dance to their tune, you live their life and fail to live yours.
Shouldn’t your dreams, desires and expectations matter?
Isn’t ok to be wealthy but not show off your wealth? Isn’t it ok to have a professional degree but pursue work that fulfills you? Isn’t it acceptable for your husband to stay home and be the homemaker?
If you wish to live authentically, be oblivious to the expectations of others.
6)Stop caring about naysayers
There will be those who speak negatively of you or be critical of you.
You must learn to ignore these voices. You already have an inner self-critic to deal with. You don’t have time for other critics to chime in.Thank you mother-in-law, sister-in-law, Uncle, Aunt and family but you are completely capable of making your own decision on something.
Their snide remarks, doubts about your abilities and harmful put-downs should be words that you allow to flutter in the wind.
Learning to ignore those who are continuously negative to you is a divine practice. You can love them as people but know that their fear-based living causes them to be harsh towards you.
7)Stop caring about having to explain yourself
“What do I say to my parent?” or “What will we tell the family down the road who have known our family for 3 generations?”Nothing. Make polite talk and listen to what they have to say to you.If they ask you questions about your career choices, life-style choices or anything about living the life you want, side-step the question.
Let them know it is what it is. Stop putting on airs to look better, richer or more important.
Life’s too short to be putting up a facade. The more layers you put on and the more layers of untruths you mask, the less authentic life you live.
8)Stop caring about your past
“You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You can find yourself by coming into the present.” Eckhart Tolle
Moving on from our past is difficult sometimes because our past defines and bonds us.Can you modify the story you’ve been telling yourself about your past? Can you change your perspective about the hurting and painful events? About the trespasses and sorrow others have caused?Can you heal today so that you’re not stuck from your life 10 years or 20 years ago?
Forgive today by side-stepping your ego. Ask for forgiveness if you have to. And break free of the shackles of your past.
You can only be the bright shining light today if you can unveil the heavy fog of your past.
9)Stop caring about who you SHOULD be
You should be famous. Or wealthy. Or highly-educated because that’s what success means.
You don’t have to be any of those things as much as society tries to tell you to conform to living a certain way.
Stop bothering intensely about what your community or society wants
Your community or society is not going to judge you at the end of your life
Only you’re going to judge yourself of how you lived your life. So you shouldn’t have to do anything to appease anyone.
You should, however, listen to your heart and intuition. Do what feels right to you.
10)Stop caring about your inadequacies
Instead of dwelling on what your shortfalls or problems you have in life are, be ready to deal with it.
Acknowledge, accept and be ready to work through it. Then be ready to release it from your life.
Focus on your strength, your successes and your potential.
Continue to strive to be the best person you can be today, not the broken or inadequate person you felt you were yesterday.
How can you make self-improvements today? Get out of depression? Heal from your wounds and emotional scars? How can you build your character today? Be a kinder, gentler, more caring person today?
How can you be more effective, motivated and inspired to follow your dreams?
Work on the issues and pain you have but don’t allow it to define you.
Focus on your potential, not your deficiencies.
To live an authentic life, you just need to stop caring so much.
Allow the unnecessary trappings in your life to crumble and wash away. Step away from unrealistic expectations and societal demands to live life on your terms.
Choose to be courageous and be who you are. Life’s too short to be living someone else’s life.
Are you living a life that’s authentic and true to yourself? Please help inspire others and share your thoughts on how to be more true to yourself in the comments below.
About the Author of this post:
Vishnu writes a self-help blog for spiritual people at www.vishnusvirtues.com.
He writes to inspire you to seek wisdom and happiness within yourself, and to be a better person for yourself and for others. Join him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/vishnus.virtues
Did you enjoy this post? I know I did….Thank you so much Vishnu for sharing your life story and your wisdom here on Positive Provocations.
With Immense Love & Gratitude,
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43 thoughts on “Live an Authentic Life: 10 Factors You Should Stop Caring About Today to be True to Yourself”
Yo ho! Vishnu! 🙂 I enjoyed the post but the words “stop caring” kind of scared me. 🙂 You know, my family was quite old-fashioned and followed some set behaviors, which naturally influenced the coming generations. While we were different, our core values, as we knew them, were not easy to get out of, because we definitely had to get out of some of them, or at the very least, stretch them, be flexible. The outside world, when we stepped out and had to fend for ourselves, was such a culture-shock that we had a great deal of adjusting to do. Nevertheless, I think most of us turned out quite okay-ish – and with the support of the family. While initially there was resistance, with the right approach, people do change and mellow.
So, while this post might hold good in general, for me, personally, it is….lets say…. different. While I agree that we can’t stress over what every body thinks if we want to live an “authentic” life, I do think we have to care about our human eco-system. After all, we do interact and live with them. Relationships are important. We have to care, sometimes. Maybe we must be cruel sometimes to be kind, but not always.
I say this because I’ve had to rebel to take every step I wanted to, but I could never bring myself to push everything aside and move ahead. I tried my best to deal with the negativity with love and compassion, and when I cared enough to do that, I was pleasantly surprised by receiving the same.
All that being said, I enjoyed the post! 🙂
Thank you, Zeenat. Vishnu rocks.
Hi Vidya, thanks for your comment. I do know what you mean about the audacity of “stop caring” being from a traditional family myself. And you’re right, we do have to care. Maybe the distinction is we can care in an empathetic way and a concerned way for others but not allow the opinion and demands of others to rule over our life. We can still be giving, compassion and kind. We can be thoughtful and caring about the needs of others, the help they need and their general well-being.
I think where I’ve been trying to draw the line in my life is to stop caring so much about what others think about what I’m doing and their expectations of me. I’m trying to lessen the influence, expectations and wishes of others in my life.
And of course, this isn’t always practical and sometimes we have to act out of obligation and love to do what someone else wants but I feel like the less we attend to the needs and desires of others as it pertains to our own life, the more authentic of a life we can lead.
I don’t think these tips are an either/or or black/white. The premise is to live more for ourselves and less for others.
Thanks for introducing the practicality and reality into this post. And providing some perspective:) We can’t completely stop caring unless we are spiritual-seekers living in the forest without family or friends. There are people in our lives who we do have to care (or at least take into account) if we want to maintain that relationship. If we completely stopped caring, we’d only be caring about ourselves. And we’d be the only one doing that cause no one else in our life would care about us:)
Very nice response, Vishnu. On the face of it, self-care as a priority is the ideal thing. But as I said, in our particular part of the world, it takes a lot of rebellion to stand up for ourselves. In fact, every thing I did, from my graduation to career choice to life partner – did not have the approval of my family. That, however did not stop me. While I had to compromise on a lot of things, I didn’t when it came to major decisions. So essentially, your post is the ideal situation. 😀 Certainly worth striving for, as long as the path is compassionate and one of empathy. I try to be faithful to the mantra “only one life to life…so live it without regrets”. It makes me sad to see so many talented women squash their ambitions and settle down to mediocre lives, never questioning, always accepting it as their lot. It was that thought that brought on my earlier reaction. It is a reality we face. And it will take generations to overcome, if ever.
Thanks again for a great post, Vishnu.
I enjoyed this discussion between the two of you very much.
As I parent, being more aware of the ‘spiritual’ aspects of life, I have struggled somewhat with reconciling the fact that we do ‘live’ in society and in many ways we need to find a balance between what we want for ourselves (which is a great thing – hence I understand the Stop Caring bit) and how it affects all the rest.
Ultimately being able to align the two would mean that it becomes a congruent life – the ideal situation.
At the end of the day, most of the time, I like to believe that what others say or think or do, in relation to our lives are usually borne out of their care. While this does not make them right, sometimes it does provide a different perspective.
Being true to ourselves is important, and interestingly I have found that practising gratitude brings about changes without having to fight through them.
Thank you both for sharing and for giving me some more food for thought.
These are such valid points and I have soon mastered it. I agree with being yourself you need to follow all the points above as it is your life and you only have to answer yourself.
Yes, ultimately it is our life and the more of it we can live for ourselves, the more satisfied and happy we’ll be. We’ll also be living a more authentic life for ourselves. Thanks for your comment:)
Thats lovely. Another thing is we are trying to change others. We know its only possible we can change and not others. ..whether they are spouse, dad, mum, kids, we can guide them…but only they have to walk their path.we know this intellectually but most of the times we expect others to change because its good for them ..according to our judgement. See its like in physical world we are expecting a crawling child to run because we expect or say.its not possible unless the time arrives.same way I understood recently what ever we do or say or try…other people have their own path.even reducing weight, quit smoking or taking insulin to our dear and near we can’t force or do because it is good for them. Lets understand, remind them…but we can’t expect or change another person or soul.only changes we can bring is in ourselves. ❤ ❤
I totally agree totally, having those expectations makes life hard. That for example your child should walk by the age of one. Everyone is unique and we should accept that.
Excellent point. In order for us to live more authentic lives, let’s not have unreasonable or unrealistic expectations of others.
By demanding change or expectations of others, we are imposing our desires, beliefs or wants on them. Similar to how we should ignore what others demand or want of us, we should try to respect others’s as well and not impose our demands on them. We can provide input when asked but staying out of the expectation business helps us stay calmer and more relaxed. If we try to impose our expectations on others, we will be the ones who will be eventually disappointed and upset.
Thanks for sharing the resources you mentioned as well Vijay.
Yes this is lovely message. .I am so happy in india also crstal clear messages spreading on Authentic self from youngsters too. Osho, Ramana Maharishi and bodhi dharma and 100 of spiritual masters shared these informations. Anyone aware of Enneagram, Micheal teachings depth study of these subjects Spirituality &Personality types? Pl Google for info. ❤ ❤
I know of Osho, but not hte others, I shall have a look, thank you!
Vishnu – I’m in love with your soul~ Your words are spoken with authority and clarity. And you hit a home run on all of them. Most people never even come close to work at changing one behavior. When I hear people saying ‘should’, ‘if only’, ‘when I’ ‘she made me feel’ …and the list goes on- those words act as a reminder to me. Although I’ve been working on myself for years, I am still guilty of having pieces of the conventional/false me still floating around in my psyche. A big thank you Zeenat for inviting Vishnu onto your blog – xxoo-Fran
Thank you for your kind words Fran. I may have spoken with clarity but I think I’m still trying to live with clarity:) It’s not the easiest thing in the world to live with this way and it’s easy to get caught up in living for other people or our past or our mental picture about our self. We have to undo all that time we were living inauthentically. All those limiting beliefs. Ghosts in our past, etc.
We are all on this journey together, trying to live a better and more inspired life.
And ditto on the thank you to Zeenat for having this post and being a wonderful host:)
This is a really great post! Thank you for sharing! 🙂
Thank you for your comment – glad you enjoyed it.
This is all about releasing to me Vishnu…letting go of all the things that hold us back and keep us in a prison. You put it so well, living authentically is living the life we choose. Our choices are creating our experiences.
Thanks Elle, yes indeed releasing ourselves from a prison, our past, our communities, etc etc and being who we are. I like that phrase – “our choice are creating our experiences:)” Thanks for your comment.
Glad you liked it. Thanks.
Vishnu – never a truer word spoken. Well, lots of words written. You know what I mean…..
After a few experiences of caring too much about what others think, succumbing to expectations and focusing on personal weaknesses, it become apparent none of this is serving you. It isn’t about being selfish, it’s about being true to yourself.
It can’t have been easy to leave your life of a marriage, job and house behind. But I bet you’re glad it worked out this way, right? 🙂
Great post – one to print out so it acts as a reminder.
Thanks Razwana. No, it wasn’t easy and struggling with losing control of all these things is a story for another day. Anyway, it is better that it worked out this way because I can now live more truly to my core being. There’s no more living for anyone else. I welcome advice and even input:) but ultimately have realized that I have to live my life for myself. That knowledge and power has been a life changer.
Hi Vishnu 🙂 It is wonderful to see you everywhere with your inspiring and practical posts. I just read a supplement to your post on the necessity of continuous conversion. When we begin to know ourselves more, we have to decide if we wish to ‘improve’ for the better or if we wish to stay the way we are.
One of the most important things I’ve learned from journeying with you is how powerful our thoughts could be. It is a process that I also need to undergo each and every day. “Thinking of what others think of us” is very tiring ~ like living double lives. I continue to let go and make peace with my shadows in order to do that. I also surround myself with very loving people to attract all that is positive in this world.
Perhaps, one day, when we are able to find our true purpose in living, it would be easier to relate with other people because we know our goal in life. We are heading towards the same direction.
Lots of love and thank you for sharing this post. Buon cammino.
Thanks Melissa for your visit and comment. Living for others is indeed like living a double life and I think you’re making a lot of progress and shedding all those things in your life which don’t serve you well – people, thoughts, the past etc. It takes courage to let go and find peace so I’m so glad you’re on that path to living your own truth and authenticity.
I think with the recent circumstances of my life, a decision to live more authentically, the discovery/acceptance of my purpose through the help of a good friend, I can relate to more people now who are also living authentically. We are all indeed on the same journey to being true to ourselves – some have started, some are fully-realized and others of us are somewhere in the middle.
Thank you for reading, commenting and your insights as always:)
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Really enjoyed this post! Although maybe ‘enjoy’ is the wrong word as I think I have been guilty of most, if not all, of these throughout my life. Was really good to have them laid out in one place though so succinctly. This is what I call a reference post, i.e. one I will be coming back to again and again to keep me on track 🙂
Hi Keith – Appreciate the feedback as always. We are all guilty of this at most points in our life. But I think once we recognize it, we can start to work on it. And it takes a lifetime to achieve. All we can do is take it one day at a time, and one person at a time, and one circumstance at a time and continue to chose ourselves more each time:) Calling this a reference post (even of what not to do lol) is so kind of you. Thank you.
Wonderful inspiration as always, Vishnu! We do need to be authentic and true to our selves or our lives will mean very little.
Blessings, my friend!
Thank you for your support and feedback Martha. Yes!! The more authentic our life, the more meaning it will have.
Hi Vishnu! Exactly what you wrote about is something I have been working on, in particular the last 5 years. I usually follow my own heart, but I do struggle with people pleasing. It can be especially difficult with people we love and care about. It is so important to not make decisions based on what others will think, but to have the courage to listen to our own intuition. Thank you for encouraging us with your wise words!
Thanks Wendy for your insight.
It’s not easy when we’re not pleasing people but sometimes we have no choice if we’re trying to maintain a special relationship or friendship. But if we can start living more for ourselves (and operate from a place of intuition and self-knowledge) and less for others, we’ll be on a successful journey to authentic living. A little more each day will allow us to get a little closer to our own truth eachday.
Well-timed post there, Vishnu!! I really enjoyed this one. Some friends and I were just chatting about being married to women that come from cultures where everyone is pushed into being a doctor or lawyer:) Luckily Jammie went ahead and became a journalist/blogger anyway but MAN there is pressure. Dealing with that gracefully is definitely an art…
It’s never too late Bjorn – law schools are recruiting heavily at the moment. haha but you’re a couple of the most authentic people I know, living life on your own terms. I think you’re doing pretty good under the circumstances and if you don’t make a permanent stop in the States and stay far away from family, it should be smooth sailing. Kidding:)
What a wonderful and inspiring post and Zeenat, thanks for having Vishnu over!
Vishnu, I can so relate to many of the points in your post. There have been many times in my life and even now at times, where I’ve been behaving and saying certain things in order to keep others happy or because of fear of disapproval.
As I’ve got older, I’ve become better at ignoring others and doing what I want, in order to live more authentically.
As you said, life is just too short to be living someone else’s life.
Yes, a big thank you to Zeenat from me too:)
And so glad to hear your authentic living journey, Hiten. People-pleasing gets old. The less we can live for others and the more we can live for ourselves, the more true our lives will be to ourselves. Living more authentically, allows us to be more honest with others as well – they get what the see (not what they want to see 🙂 ) Thanks for your visit and comment!
Letting go of all your worries about who/ what you should be according to Yourself or Others means acceptance of What Is. Coming into the Now. Working with what is actually happening right now – not working toward a Future You, which is just never quite perfect enough. There are continuously more demands, more expectations, more edits to make to the life script.
Thanks Vishnu. I am happy you are letting go and becoming free to be You. Because you are wonderful that way.
SSS – Thank you for your kind words and wisdom! Being “what is” sounds just about right. When we are who we are, we can stop stressing about what others think and reduce our stress and anxiety in life. And it’s easier to just be instead of faking it for our families, communities and societies. The more I’ve learned to accept myself and be who I am, the more others seem to accept me as well. Thanks again SSS!
At the risk of sounding simplistic (but I won’t care about what others think!), I found that most of these suggestions became easier for me as I got older. Whether because of growing self-awareness, or simply fatigue, many of us, as we reach a certain age, live more authentically. What your article offers is the chance for those at an earlier stage to get a jump start on the wisdom that comes with age.
On another note, I, like other commenters, found your perspective added a layer of complexity and depth. Coming from a culturally traditional family, as you have, creates some challenges to following some of these suggestions that would not be so difficult for those who have grown up in a more individualistic culture.
Haha you don’t have to mind what others think of your comment, Galen:) Really happy to see you here and thanks for your wisdom. Are you saying that with age comes more authenticity 🙂 ? Or wisdom? Or both 🙂 !!
I think you’re completely right – the older we get, we see more of these patterns in our lives repeated and then begin asking ourselves questions like – am I just doing this to please others, do I really care what someone else wants me to do with my life, etc etc. There definitely is more pressure in cultures and communities outside the US to conform to a particular tradition, lifestyle, social obligation, etc. We each have to come to terms with how comfortable we are with going along with cultural expectations and family obligations, and determine what we’re comfortable doing. Thank you Galen!
I really liked your response to the first comment. It was like getting a bonus post of more amazing insight. I especially liked: “the less we attend to the needs and desires of others as it pertains to our own life, the more authentic of a life we can lead.” That’s a great distinction to make. Serve other people’s needs but find your own way. I needed to hear that. Sometime I, too, struggle with negative familial and societal pressure — even if it hasn’t been articulated out loud. I just KNOW what I’m “supposed” to do and want. I guess I’m just well-trained that way. 🙂
Jammie – glad to see you here. Sure, you can leave a tip for the bonus comment:) And glad you enjoyed the article!
Haha you know what you’re supposed to do and want cause it was inculcated into your subconscious mind before you were born, during childhood, in the stories our parents read us and off-hand remarks – “wouldn’t it be great if you went to Stanford, like all of our friend’s kids and became a doctor.” Or “Of course, you would do what the three kids down the street did, winning the national spelling bee” haha
Thanks for the comment Jammie – stay strong to you:) (which I know you’re doing!)
Loved this post, Vishnu. The best sentence that resonates with me is this: “Life’s too short to be putting up a facade. The more layers you put on and the more layers of untruths you mask, the less authentic life you live.”
I’m glad you enjoyed it Swapna! I like that sentence too:) I’m certain you’re cutting through the layers of untruths and living from more from your true essence (and authentic place!)
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