People consistently make the mistakes of judging themselves by the standards of others. Take the case of a son who is in a career he really enjoys but his parents think it’s not a worthwhile endeavor because he is not making much money doing it. Or think of the cases where someone has low self worth because of abuse from a partner. Or perhaps you are in the situation where you may have made a mistake and therefore people misrepresent who you are by calling you a liar, jerk, or stupid because of a few mistakes you made in the past. You know yourself better than anyone else does. You know what you need and desire. You know how you have changed and grown. Nobody else knows that but yourself.
When you start to judge yourself based off of what others tell you, you are on the road to unhappiness. It’s definitely normal and healthy to ask friends about your character and take that into consideration. For example, if you have a slew of failed relationships, it may be worth asking a friend why they feel that may be happening. If they say it might be because you tend not to prioritize girlfriends as highly as you should, then that’s definitely worth thinking about. What is not acceptable is when you continually trust your friends’ judgment over your own. If you make a mistake and others spend time trying to make you feel guilty, but you don’t feel as guilty, then try and understand why you have that lack of guilt. It’s likely because you understand your intentions and attitudes better than they do.
I once had a really good friend and we parted ways due to a similar situation such as this. I had made a joke, one that was shared by many of my friends, at an inappropriate time. The wrong people heard and took the joke seriously, and did not register it was a joke. What ended up occurring was a few people saying that I was talking negatively about my friend. My friend, rather than asking me exactly what had happened, believed what they said. I explained to him the situation afterwards and he understood what I meant but the damage was already done. Our friendship declined shortly after that. Some people might respond by feeling guilty or thinking they had said something terrible, but I know my intentions. I was just making a joke and I did apologize for saying it at an inopportune moment and that things had gotten out of control, but I know that making that one mistake does not make me a bad friend or someone not deserving of friends.
If you make a mistake then try not to consume yourself with it by the way people judge you. If you are surrounded by people who easily jump to negative conclusions about your character then it’s best to get away from those people. If you hurt someone, then it’s normal for that person to be upset with you but you have to be aware of when that negativity becomes out of control. If someone is continually devaluing you as a person, then it’s better to cut that person out of your life.
If you have something you are passionate about or you enjoy living your life a certain way, then stand up for that. It’s great to have people around who have your best interests at hand, but it’s one thing to say something lacks value based off of negative ways it influences your life and another thing to say it lacks value because that person cannot see the value in that. If there is something truly important to you that you value, then try to not let others influence that. If someone wants to take away something that brings you joy, then consider cutting them out of your life. Remember to also understand where people are coming from when they place value on things you do. If something is indeed adding negativity to your life, that you really enjoy, it is worth considering what your loved ones have to say about that. It may be an activity you should limit or consider healthier alternatives.
The same theory applies for material items and other life pursuits. Just because something brought joy into someone else’s life does not mean it will for you. Someone who truly loves traveling and a true genuine experience at viewing the life of other cultures may absolutely love the experience of spending a month living in a tribal village with very limited amenities. For others, that could end up being an experience that makes them feel unhappy and uncomfortable. A person who loves cars may enjoy saving up and spending money on a really nice car, while for another, that could be a happiness that lasts for just a couple of days. One person may truly not be able to live without a pet, and find love and joy in raising one, while another would hate owning a pet.
Everyone places different values on things. If something is important to you, then treat it like it’s important. If something is not important, then don’t make it out to have more value in your life just because it’s something your friends value. It’s wonderful to respect other’s values, but that does not mean you have to adopt their values.
So again, learn to respect your values and everyone else’s values. Take what people have to say about you in consideration. People can typically see things about your character that you may not be aware of. Be open to the suggestions and opinions of others. Place rational thought into what people tell you. Just remember that some people’s judgments are misinformed and are meant as an attack. Keep this in mind and try not to punish yourself unnecessarily.