Living Life by Committee

When we live life by committee it means we’re taking on other people’s opinions and doing what they want us to do. We’re trying to make them happy, so it seems really well-intentioned, but it usually ends up with us being miserable. It can become a form of self-sabotage where we never allow ourselves to meet our own needs because we’re always focused on what other people want.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to assume that other people are generally well-intentioned and are not trying to cause us pain or sabotage us in any way. They are trying to help us and maybe protect us from experiencing more pain, but are likely having the opposite effect. How do we deal with this? What do we do?

First and foremost we need to recognize that other people are projecting their own pain through their opinions of our actions. You’re wanting to do something that maybe they regret not doing in their own life, maybe they don’t have the power to do for themselves yet or you’re simply triggering a memory for them that they don’t like. Whatever the reason, our actions are causing them pain that they are trying to get control of by trying to control us.

Secondly, understand that this is all an unconscious response to the outside world. That’s not to say that people don’t do this intentionally to hurt others because that does happen, but we’re staying out of that here. We’re focusing on the unconscious projection of pain through trying to control the actions of others, and our response to that.

I lived for many years trying to make others happy and not only did I fail miserably in that regard, but I also succeeded in making myself miserable. I couldn’t ultimately make other people happy. Nothing I did was ever quite right or good enough for those people. It comes down to the idea that happiness is an inside job. When we look for happiness outside of ourselves, especially through other people, the happiness will only ever be temporary. It is impossible to make others happy for any length of time because we’re not in their heads or their bodies. It is impossible for us to know what they need or expect every second of every day. We can’t possibly keep up to their expectations. We will fail every time and the other person will continue to be disappointed every time.

What that means is we need to let other people be responsible for their own happiness. That’s not easy because it requires us to get okay with disappointing them. They aren’t going to like what we’re going to do. We can choose to be miserable so they can be okay or we can choose to be okay and allow them to be miserable. Those are the options. Those aren’t easy choices.

Awareness can help. Recognize that our actions are triggering other people. It doesn’t matter why they are being triggered, they simply are. They are responsible for managing that trigger within themselves. We understand that the attempt to control the outside world so that they can avoid being triggered doesn’t work. They need a new strategy. Our job is not to allow them to control us. Our job is to simply recognize what’s happening and give ourselves permission to move forward anyway.

We can do this compassionately. We can do it kindly. We can do it gently. It doesn’t have to be mean or cruel at all. When we’ve set the expectation in our relationships with others that we will pander to them and make them comfortable, suddenly putting a boundary in place is challenging for both people. It requires the relationship to change. Many people will object to that change, stay stuck in their stuff, and demand that we give in. The thing with implementing a new boundary is we can’t give in. We have to stand our ground, even if it means ending the relationship.

When we finally decide to take control of our own lives and stop living by committee, we’re setting new boundaries and making new rules. Everybody around us will object because they don’t want change. They don’t want us to change. They don’t want the relationship to change. They don’t want to change. They want things to be as they were. When that can’t happen, they throw a fit. All of that is an unconscious response to pain by projecting it outward.

When we have the awareness to see that, we can change our response to it. That doesn’t mean giving in, it means being compassionate and understanding, while still maintaining our boundaries and doing our own thing. Yes, if the other person pushes too far, it may be that the relationship ends. Those are individual choices that we’ll have to make based on the actions of others. At the end of the day, the relationships that end probably weren’t healthy anyway. Those relationships probably needed to end and this was just the catalyst to make that happen.

It’s okay to do your own thing your own way and make other people responsible for themselves. It might seem mean, but it’s a lesson they need to learn for themselves anyway. Nothing is random. When we make choices that affect or end our relationships with others, there is a reason for that. We may not see the reason right away and that’s okay. Just trust that everything will work out the way it needs to and move forward anyway. Everybody always ends up where they need to be because that’s how this works.

There are no easy answers. As long as you’re following your heart and taking care of yourself, you’re doing the right thing. It won’t always feel good, especially for other people, but the path was never meant to be easy. It’s littered with lessons that sometimes hurt, but always allow us to grow. Stepping into the independence we all have within us, is how we become more of who we are, not less.

Keep growing. Other people don’t have to like it. That’s not their job.

Love to all.


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