The majority of our struggles revolve around how we perceive ourselves based on what others say directly to us, what others say about us when we aren’t in their presence, and what we believe people think about us based on what they say. And it is our natural tendency to end up spending our lives trying to justify ourselves based on how well we are able to prove that we aren’t what they claim we are (and that we can do much more than what they claim we’re capable of) by attempting to nullify the negative things they’ve said about us through the pursuit of grand, yet unrealistic greatness and the embodiment of great virtue and quality.
However, the more we strive to prove how much we are worthy to those that demean us and judge us for not being smart enough, talented enough, resilient enough, attractive enough, outgoing enough, strong enough, and simply just not enough to be deserving of kindness, the more we bury ourselves in self-hatred, envy, inner instability, and insecurity, so much that we begin to feel tormented with the fires we put ourselves through, burdened by the mountains we try to move, and enslaved to the idea of becoming the ideal human that is free from any sort of things that those who judge us would call deficiencies in moral character. But the truth is, there will always be someone who is determined to point out how lacking we are and how we’re undeserving of being loved unless we meet certain conditions – which all involve perfecting the exterior and proving to others that we are tough enough to go through a tremendous amount of suffering without showing any sort of emotion whatsoever.
The process of letting go of their negative comments and judgments isn’t going to be simple. But it will get better over time as you create a life based on what is best for you and only surround yourself with people that believe you are worthy of being appreciated without you having to prove anything to them.
There will always be people out there that want to push us down to make themselves feel superior, so why should we bother living for these kinds of people and allow their displeasure to consume our lives?
You don’t have to waste an entire lifetime or put your sanity through a futile test to prove anything to anyone. Aside from the obvious like wealth and status, you especially do not have to prove to others any of the following things:
1. How gifted you are
You don’t need to prove that you are gifted, whether it’s in the arts, the sciences, math, technology, sports, philosophy – it doesn’t really matter. Having a hobby or a profession that you simply enjoy should not turn into a competition of trying to be one of the most gifted in something, so gifted that you become immune to criticism, which is impossible to do and highly detrimental to growth, since fixating so much on not being criticized hinders you from experimenting and utilizing your gifts in way that is totally yours.
2. How much character you possess
You don’t need to prove that you are a person of great character. Character is what’s inside, and through your external actions, people have no right to give absolutes about your character, or lack thereof. Character cannot be tested based on what you say or do and how people interpret those things. Character is what’s within and if you need to prove that you have it to those that think you don’t, you need to question if the people who ruthlessly judge your flawed exterior and boast in how much character they have even have good character within themselves because true character doesn’t need to be elevated or proudly overemphasized. It simply exists.
3. How deep of a thinker you are
You don’t need to prove that you are the deepest thinker out of everyone you know. The fact that you need to prove it shows how insecure you are with your mental abilities and how much you depend on others to validate your ways of thinking, and this is rooted in fear. There is a significant difference between wanting to grow wiser and more intelligent for the sake of self-improvement and just being arrogant about how many deep thoughts you can show off to others to assert your own mental superiority. People who think deeply don’t need to spend every waking moment proving that they can or showing off to those that doubt them.
4. How pragmatic you are
Oftentimes, you feel the need to suppress your creative and inquisitive side because someone in the past has told you that you’re not pragmatic enough and that your head is always in the clouds. If you like beautiful things, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. If you care about fine details and taking your time to put your individuality into something you’re working on, you shouldn’t feel like you need to suppress yourself to appease someone else. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your own personal aesthetics for the sake of proving that you are a pragmatic person. If you enjoy exploring theoretical alternatives instead of using the same pragmatic process that’s proven to deliver good quantifiable results, you absolutely can and should because that’s how you’ll develop boldness, in spite of fear from those that oppose you, and a visionary mindset, in spite of what the cynics say you can’t do.
5. How happy you are
You don’t have to smile all the time or fake enthusiasm when you feel terrible inside. You don’t need to prove that you are happy 24/7 to people that judge you for not smiling enough or doing enough to prove that you are happy. It’s not for them to decide which emotions you are allowed to show and which ones you must suppress. Although it is good to control your volatile emotions when you are in public, it is condescending of them to make you feel like you’re not good enough just because you don’t plaster on a fake smile for every waking moment of your existence.
6. How great you can be in the future
Whenever people doubt your potential for success in the future, you don’t need to go on a lengthy rant or go through the laborious (and unnecessary) process of giving those people every little detail, cause, and effect of all the little actions you will take to achieve what they believe you’re incapable of achieving. You should remove yourself from their presence, live your own life in peace, and pursue a life that’s not meant to be displayed or propped up on a pedestal because pursuing greatness for the sake of external validation is a vain goal, and it doesn’t take into account the most important thing of all – your personal well being. If you have to sacrifice your mental, physical, and emotional health for the sake of proving someone wrong, you are only bound for a life of misery and drudgery, and you’ll miss out on living your own life, which is the only life you should be living.
7. How much better you are than most people
If you find yourself saying things like, “I’m better because I can sacrifice my desires for the betterment of society” or “I’m better because I am a deeper thinker and am capable of being greater than the people who just party and do shallow things,” then you are stuck in the trap of comparing yourself to others and putting them down out of your own insecurity and fear of judgment. You do not have to prove that you are better than other people just because someone said you are lacking in one area. You do not have to overcompensate for your own lack by overexerting yourself. You only need to be better than who you were before in a natural way that’s fueled by your desire for personal excellence, regardless of what others around you are doing or failing to do.
8. How well-educated you are
You don’t need to pour over materials on a certain topic or put yourself through the drudgery of studying something you aren’t even interested in just to prove that you are well-rounded in education. You don’t need to brag about your grades or the complexity of the courses you took to those who doubt your intelligence and educational status. Those who think you’re stupid regardless of how well you’ve mastered a certain subject aren’t worth being around anyway, and you have nothing valuable to learn from them if all they do is point out how insufficient you are and teach you how much they know in a condescending manner.
9. How unaffected by external circumstances you are
You don’t have to put on a tough front or proudly display your cold and disinterested face to those that think you’re weak for being affected by changes in external circumstances. It is normal and understandable to be upset when you lose what you have or put in your best efforts and still experience failure. There is a difference between allowing your external circumstances to affect how you measure your self-worth and trying too hard to show that you have no emotions whatsoever to those that think you’re weak. You are allowed to feel what you’re feeling and still understand that you are not defined by what happens around you.
10. How much willpower you have
Willpower is overrated and choosing to be selective in what you actually care about is highly undervalued. If you have to prove that you have a tremendous amount of willpower through the means of working yourself to death in something you hate and not taking any rest or stopping to reflect on where you’re at, then you are just wasting your life away just to prove that you are disciplined and capable of operating like a super productive machine that never shuts down. The goal of life is not to be so insanely productive to avoid being called lazy. If that’s your motivation for living, then it is a hollow and lifeless mode of living that’s rooted in deep insecurity and dependence on others’ opinions and feelings of you.
11. How tough you are based on how much you can endure pain and trauma
It is a general belief that the more you suffer from harsh circumstances early on, the tougher you are. However, it is highly toxic of people to judge you based on your lack of exposure to extremely difficult life experiences, because your worth and toughness aren’t based on what you face externally. As humans, we all suffer, and people who say that your pain isn’t valid just because you look haven’t faced “real life” don’t understand that there are a plethora of inner struggles that can take a toll on your health and affect how you deal with problems in life. You are tough because you are still here, you have tried building yourself up, you have learned from your experiences, and you understand that toughness can come in many forms, not just what people can see externally.
12. How well you can succeed and not make any mistakes on your first attempt at something
It is unrealistic and extremely rare for people to succeed on their very first try. You are not consistent all the time, and those that expect superhuman perfection from you aren’t worth pleasing or wasting away your life for because you aren’t made to be molded into the ideal, flawless person that never fails at anything, no matter how difficult it is. You are allowed to flourish on your own terms and identify what’s essential and purposeful for you, regardless of what anyone thinks, regardless of what anyone judges you for, and most importantly, regardless of someone else’s subjective and opinionated assessment of you.