For many years, I found myself entangled in the web of others’ expectations, allowing their opinions to mold my identity. The journey of constantly trying to please everyone led me down a path riddled with negative consequences. It became a relentless internal struggle as I contorted myself to fit the ever-shifting expectations of those around me. The toll of this people-pleasing endeavor was unmistakable, eroding the core of my authentic self. I eventually realized that living to meet the approval of others was an unsustainable and damaging approach.
It took a lot of internal work until I learned to rewire my old programming and began to say “yes” to myself, even if it meant saying “no” to someone else. The following tale beautifully illustrates the futility of attempting to please everyone.
“One day, Shiva thought he wanted to learn about how humans think and decided to come down to earth together with his consort Parvati and his bull Nandi.
Upon coming down to earth Shiva took on the form of an old man while Parvati showed up as a beautiful young maiden. All three of them walked down the road and soon they saw a village far in the distance. Before entering the village Shiva told Parvati to climb up on Nandi and let him carry her. As they entered the village, people gathered around them and started to talk: “A young lady is being carried by the bull while the poor old man has to walk? How inconsiderate of her!”
The trio left the village and continued to walk down the road. In a couple hours they saw another village and this time Shiva climbed up on the bull and Parvati walked next to them. Upon entering the village people started to peek through the windows and walk out of their houses to see the spectacle. The murmurs were growing louder and the trio heard people say: “The man enjoys the comfort of being carried by the bull while the beautiful maiden has to walk through the dust with her gentle feet?! He should be ashamed!”
Shiva, Parvati, and Nandi left the village and continued their journey. It was early afternoon as they approached the next village. This time they decided that none of them will sit on Nandi and they will all walk next to each other. Just like before, the nosy villagers began to observe them as they were making their way across the village and judged what they saw: “An old man and a beautiful maiden walk on foot instead of letting their bull carry them?! Such fools!”
As the day was coming to an end, the trio approached yet another village. After hearing the judgements in the villages before they chose to sit on Nandi together. Also this time the curious crowd began to observe them and Shiva and Parvati heard people talk: “Do you see those two lazy people? Instead of using their own two good legs they sit on the poor animal. The bull doesn’t deserve this kind of torture…”
As they left the village, Shiva and Parvati looked at each other, and Shiva asked her what she learned about the thinking of people from this experience. Parvati said that she noticed that people are impossible to please and no matter what you do, there will always be someone who will find the wrong in it.”
This story encourages me to stand boldly for what I believe is right, even though some people might judge and disapprove. With this, I would like to encourage you to be who you are no matter what others say.
Journaling prompt for self-reflection:
In what areas of your life do you let the opinions of others stop you from doing what you really want to do and being who you want to be?