Overcome the Force of Others’ Expectations

Who we be in the world creates an idea of us in the minds of others. This idea then acts as an opposing force that keeps our identity in place.

When I was a teenager, I was extremely sarcastic. To the point that I became known amongst friends as a bit of a dick. A friend, but also a dick.

I acted like a dick. They called me a dick. I believed I was a dick. And then I acted like a dick again.

It was a perfect dick-cycle.

As I reached my twenties, I started to realize that while being a dick was funny as a teenager, it wasn’t going to suit me very well as an adult. The real world didn’t provide as much to dicks as it did to kind people. And so I set myself the goal to stop being a dick.

I must say, I did a pretty good job at it. (For any of my present-day friends thinking “Well, actually, you’re still kind of a dick.” Trust me – I was a much bigger dick in the 90’s.)

What I remember though is when I  first stopped being a dick, people still referred to me as a dick. I hadn’t actually been a dick, but this was still how they saw me.

If I was called a dick when I had NOT been a dick, I had a mix of two different feelings.

The first feeling was injustice. I’d think something like ‘Hey! I’m not a dick anymore! Can’t you see that…you dick!?’

The second feeling though, was a kind of attraction to the old identity. There was something familiar and comforting about it. When someone referred to me as a dick, I’d have a thought of something sarcastic to say and feel the allure of my old identity calling me back.

Why am I sharing this? Because I want to acknowledge the reality that there are forces outside of you that are trying to keep you in place.

If you are growing yourself into someone new and you are hiding that change from the world – maybe as a new entrepreneur, an artist or a coach – then this is important to consider.

One of the reasons we fear ‘coming out’ when we change is that we fear our new identity will conflict with the expectations of the people we know.

As I wrote at the start of this article:

Who we be in the world creates an idea of us in the minds of others. This idea then acts as an opposing force that keeps our identity in place

Interestingly, being rejected by others for our new identity is NOT what most scares us. Sure, we want people to accept us, but the actual fear is something deeper.

What we really fear is that they’re right – that the new identity we have crafted for ourselves isn’t true.

When coming out with a new identity, what we truly fear is that the opposing force of other people’s opinions will tear our new identity from our hands and that we will be left with the reality that we are not who we think we are. Deep down, we fear we’re just what others think we are. Nothing more. And that we are destined to live our life as something no greater than that.

This ‘force of expectations’ is one of the major reasons people don’t change. A person’s context – including the expectations of those around them – is largely what keeps them in place.

What I really want to share with you is a path out of this bind.

Interestingly enough, the way out is the same way you got in.

Allow me to bring you back to the first line above, once again:

Who we be in the world creates an idea of us in the minds of others.

Who people think we are may be a force that is trying to keep us in place, but it is important to remember that the ideas other people hold about us – was created BY us. While it looks like others are judging us of their own accord, they are actually following our lead.

My father once pointed out to me that anything we have built, if knocked down, we can build again.

Who I am in the eyes of others was built by me. If this is the case, then I can knock it down and build something new.

It may take some effort. There may be some lag-time before the old story people have about you collapses and the new story rises up.

If you keep showing up as the new you (i.e. an entrepreneur, an artist, a coach or even just ‘not-a-dick’), then eventually people will start to see you that way too.

Give them a little slack. You were whoever you were for a while and it took some time for you to change. It might take some time for them to see it as well.

The opposing force of other people’s expectations was made by you.

Own that and you are free.

Loving you, JP ??❤️