I recently have realized how much weight I have put into other peoples’ opinions of who I am has influenced me. When I was younger I remember my mom worrying about how influences were affecting me. I remember having an awareness that this was a thing. It is not until now that I am attempting to overcome this challenge at 44 years old. Seeking to understand our social nature and how we are naturally wired and studying success stories of others who have overcome social ridicule or failure have been great tools to overcome the social pressure to fit in and be liked.
In an article entitled Why We are Wired to Connect by Scientific American, the human desire to connect and belong is examined. It states, “In the West, we like to think of ourselves as relatively immune to the sway of those around us while we each pursue our personal destiny. But I think this is a story we like to tell ourselves rather than what really happens.” It goes on to explain that studies of mammals, rodents, and humans indicate that we suffer severely when our social bonds are broken, so much so that it can be as severe as physical pain.
I grew up thinking that I was very independent and individual but I’ve also suffered greatly along the way with bullying and unhealthy social interactions that led to either being criticized for deeply held beliefs or left out and alone. I have always felt like I shouldn’t care and know that being an independent thinker is really healthy. But there is always this pull to compromise my beliefs in order to be liked or simply not left out or criticized again for fear that I won’t be accepted or worse thought to be “out there” or “crazy.” As a result of previous abusive relationships, this pattern has become magnified. One of the tactics used in an unhealthy relationship by a controlling or abusive person is exactly that, to make you feel different or crazy, therefore isolating you from any connection to even your own intuition, breaking you down, and allowing for continued control in the relationship. I was so relieved when I read this information and realized that my desires to be connected and stay connected were natural. I just needed a better way to navigate through the unhealthy ones to get to the healthy, supportive relationships.
So how do you overcome this desire to be liked and fit in and still be socially connected and authentically true to yourself? I’ve learned these few things that have really helped me.
We are wired to connect and the pain can be immense when we are separating from something that is unhealthy or simply not working any more. The great news is, there is light at the end of the tunnel. When we let go of the unhealthy relationships, we open the way for new and healthy relationships, experiences, and possibilities.
Fastlife | Let's Go Racing
Fastlife is a children’s book, based on our true-life story, about a boy and his dream of racing. In this heartwarming story of friendship, Derek and his classmate Brooke discover their power to chase their dreams together, uncovering a circuitous but crafty way to start their journey.
Derek’s dad has hung up his fast-paced dreams, but Derek helps him reignite his passion for racing, and they build their first go-kart together.
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This book is based on the real-life love story between Derek DeBoer and his wife Brooke, and features the one and only Spencer Pumpelly. The story has just begun...
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