Stop being a chameleon to gain approval!
Whether it is in school, in the workplace or within your own circle of friends you may look to others for approval. The approval may come in different guises, it may be the approval of the cool kids at school, it may be approval for what you’re wearing to the office that day or for the new person you are dating.
The approval seeking may even result in you being chameleon-like, depending on the group of people you are with. There are those who seem to be different people when at work or with their friends and it has everything to do with the approval of those that they are with.
Craving acceptance from others may lead to you trying to keep everyone happy. This is not always achievable, and in the end are you actually allowing yourself to be happy? You cannot control what people really think of you and if you are altering your behaviour to fit in with them then any acceptance you receive is for a false version of yourself anyway. You are in control and you alone can decide who you are and how you want to be seen by others.
Why then do we allow the opinions of others to affect us? The answer lies in whether or not we have a strong feeling of self or not. If we allow ourselves to have imperfections and to be okay with them it will not only make us less concerned about the judgments others make about us but it will also in turn make us less judgmental ourselves. We are all individuals and there are times when we will be unable to see eye to eye and that should be okay. One should not have to bend or change to meet the approval of the other. You are entitled to your own thoughts and beliefs and should be respected for those just as you should give the respect to others with different beliefs.
Instead of trying to change to be like those around you, let them see the real you. You may be surprised at how much YOU are liked for being YOU.
Our activity today might be a little challenging but well worth putting in the effort.
Step 1: Download pdf here or get a piece of paper and divide it into 4 as in the pdf. Head each quarter as follows:
•OCCUPATION (this will include work, school, study, voluntary work etc)
•THE REAL ME (See the diagram below)
Step 2: Now taking a bit of time with the first 3 columns. Being really honest with yourself, write down anything that you may have done or are doing to be more acceptable to those around you, to adapt to fit in. Try to be as honest as you can with yourself about this as this if for you only, not anyone else.
Are you being really true to the real you in the way that you are interacting with others in these environments? Are you pretending to be someone just to fit in. Are you being a chameleon?
E.g. The person who is studying law just because it is a family tradition, but in actual fact, would rather be studying drama, or the person who pretends to love popular music just to fit in but in actual fact really loves classics or jazz, or the person who lives in a family who are racist and pretends to agree but in actual fact is best friends with someone of a different race etc. Hope you get the idea.
Step 3: Once you have filled in the first three columns, spend a bit of time looking at what you have written and from this try and work out who the real you is. E.g. from the top three examples you would then write:
I am a person who would love to be an actor
I am a person who enjoys listening to classical music
I am a person who believes in equality and non-discrimination
Step 4: Hope this activity helps you to start understanding that you are very special just the way that you are and that you have the right to be your own person. I would love to hear how you go with this activity as it may be quite challenging for you to be real and honest with yourself about this.
Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a bit of support doing this activity or if you would just like to have a bit of a chat about any of the activities that we have been sharing over the past few weeks.
I would also love to hear how you are finding the activities. I look forward to hearing from you and remember always that you are very special and you can be awesome.