What others think should not be the controlling force in your life

Are you obsessed with what others think about you? Does your life revolve around getting everyone's approval? Are you miserable if someone disapproves of you?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, it's time for an approval makeover.

Constantly worrying about what others think can make you feel like a rat in a maze. You hurriedly run this way and that, looking for the exit--for someone's approval.

But you can't seem to get there, so you run faster and faster and try harder and harder until you're exhausted. You feel frustrated and depressed. And, you harbor great resentment at not being able to measure up to other people's standards.

Is there a way out of this trap? I can tell you with certainty that there is. But it's not going to be easy. This is the kind of makeover that's not an instant fix. You won't make this change in a few quick, simple steps. It's going to take time and determination on your part, but believe me, it's well worth the effort.

Too much social media?

It sneaks up on you subtly. You check your Facebook or Instagram account several times a day. Over time, without your realizing it, the voice there become an authority in your life. You value their opinions -- perhaps more than you should.

Living independently as a strong person takes courage. Fitting in with the crowd is easy. In fact, it takes no effort at all. That's why so many people do it.

But it doesn't take you where you want to go. You drift along instead of setting your own goals. Maybe other people even want to suggest goals for you.

If you haven't learned by now, recognize this fact of life: There is never a shortage of people telling you what to do.

Go online and the number jumps exponentially. As a 68 year old, I can tell you from my own experience that the younger you are, the more you are influenced by the people around you. You simply don't have the confidence yet to buck their demands. You're worried about their opinion of you.

But why do they do it? Why do other people want to tell you how to run your own life? Is it out of the goodness of their hearts?

Sometimes. Friends or relatives may be genuinely concerned about you and want you to be happy. But to keep all this in perspective, here's another important truth to know:

Most people are extremely self-centered.

Other people are not as concerned about you as you think. They're mostly concerned about themselves. We put way too much emphasis on what others think about us.

Like you, when they are thinking about other people, it's mainly in relation to themselves. This knowledge can be a major tool in helping you break the cycle of approval addiction.

Suddenly you understand that the approval of others isn't as important as you once thought, because they may be trying to manipulate you to make themselves feel more powerful or in control. You realize that you don't have to give them that authority over you.

Yes, we have to meet our employer's expectations, and yes, we do have to honor our father and mother--as long as that does not involve disobeying God.

But your completeness, your contentment doesn't depend on what others think. It depends, instead, on your acceptance by God.

A last liberating truth

If you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, you are accepted by God. Period.

In the grand scheme of things, whose approval truly matters: God's or other people's?

As a believer, you have God's approval. While the approval of other people might be reassuring or desirable, it is not necessary for your completeness.

Look. The world likes people who fit in. Even the so-called "rebels" in our society fit in, in a backwards kind of way. They do what's expected of them as rebels. They're predictable. They may be contrary to the system or the establishment, but in most ways they're not all that different.

Followers of Jesus are different. We're so different that people hate us. Vehemently.

But that's all right, because Jesus warned us to expect that. If people hated him in his time, why wouldn't they hate us too?

In the end, each of us has to choose. Whose approval will matter 1,000 years from now: God's or other people's?  Other people come and go. God is forever. God is the ultimate judge. God decides where you spend eternity.

There's your choice. It makes things perfectly clear.

A manual for building a healthy self

What does it take to get out from under the tyranny of what others think? It starts with a healthy self-image.

Hope for Hurting Singles is a paperback manual for building that strong person you want to be. Step-by-step, it shows you exactly how to tackle the problems that make you feel insecure.

You'll see errors in logic and how your life has been affected by faulty thinking about yourself. You'll cut through myths and learn the truth about what you can become.

Hope for Hurting Singles is $10.99 in paperback or $3.99 for the Kindle version.

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