“Better” isn’t just about performance, trophies, or higher numbers. 

“Better” isn’t just about performance, trophies, or higher numbers. 

It’s natural to fear that other people will exclude us. 

It’s a mental survival mechanism to protect our physical body from danger. 

But giving in to that fear is the highway to mediocrity, confusion, and a heightened anxiety about what other people will say about us.

That’s a life that is less than all that it has the potential to be. 


Begin to actively questioning this concept of jeer pressure – the fear of being ridiculed by others. Remind yourself daily of its impact on your happiness, your vitality, on the energy needed to work toward your potential. Guide yourself to truly live in alignment with your values, your goals, and your greater purpose. 

Making the fundamental decision that you will not let the fear of a noisy outside world determine how you live your life is a start to not letting it. 

It’s not easy, because the fear of not fitting in or being left out, or worse, being ridiculed for who you really are, is a big deal.

That’s why it’s essential to know yourself.

What you stand for and what you want to work toward.

It’s also important to understand (and mindfully accept) that some people will disagree. And some of them will disagree in an unkind way. Not everyone has kindness, compassion, and respect as core values.

So your response to your own worries should be to reduce the influence of others by focusing on your path. To live with really high standards, no matter what other people may or may not think about that.

It’s a decision, but it starts with awareness. Without awareness you’ll be looking through your worries instead of looking at them. When you see them from a distance it’s easier to guide yourself in a more optimal and true way.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
– Winston Churchill

When you are committed to live your life it’s much easier to let go of the fear that someone will say something.

And much easier to deal with it when they do. 

You can explore and grow in a purposeful direction – guarded and guided by your true values and greater vision for life – no matter how many dogs are barking around you.


Being someone else – making decisions, cultivating opinions, choosing clothes, jobs, and workouts – just to be accepted by others is not the way to a fulfilling life, and you know it. 

The cost of living someone else’s life, spending every unit of energy trying to fit in instead of being true, is too high. 

It’s true that words can hurt us. Especially when they hit us where we are already insecure or weak. But dimming your light or putting on a mask to avoid being ridiculed, criticized, talked down to or laughed at, will be the cost of passion, vibrancy, and genuine curiosity. 

And words can only hurt you if you let them. 

Just starting to connect with the core of who you really are will make a lifelong journey a little easier right away, and over time it will create a wonderful freedom where you don’t have to protect or defend yourself. You’re free to live.

A much better strategy is to be really clear about who you want to be.

How you really want to live. 

Instead of deploying a destructive shield, you can use higher values (such as love, compassion, curiosity, tolerance, gratitude, beauty, and creativity) as an alternative protection. 

We all know that when one person mistreats another, it says much more about that person’s suffering and inner maturity than it does about anything or anyone else.

So instead of working yourself to exhaustion by being all things to all people, stop and adjust to meet each moment, each question, and each person with your true self. 

If you always scan the world for threats (including the opinions of others), that is what you’ll find. Spontaneity, curiosity, and drive will be replaced by rigidity, worry, and fear. 

Remind yourself of the qualities and attitudes you want to recognize in yourself as you approach the last hours of this life and are making the (very) emotional assessment of the years that are nearly at an end.  

There’s a better way than perfection. There’s a better way than worrying about what other people (might) say. It starts with the fundamental decision about how you want to live, and a disciplined mind that can lead you in that direction.

Through the good times and through the bad times.


No one wants to be ridiculed or criticized, but to give up on who you really are is more hurtful than any number of potentially mean words could ever be. 

It’s not about not wanting to listen to other people, or always doing the opposite of the norms of the context you’re in. 

But it is about being who you really are, growing in meaningful ways, caring about the things you really care about, and walking the talk in the area(s) you value. 

Even if the person next to you has a different perspective, less empathy, or a sloppier way of communicating.

There’s always the “risk” that people who are less empathetic or more motivated to disagree may speak up. 

That’s their journey.

Going out of your way to win praise or approval as someone you’re not may feel good for a few seconds, but after that initial boost, you’ll fall back below baseline.

Because it’s an abuse of yourself. 

Not a nice feeling. 

The feeling is dirty and cheap, rather than powerful and true. 

That’s not how high standards work.

And it’s not the way forward.

Whatever it is you want to do, you will only reach that level of self-mastery or professional excellence by being true to who you are right now and working from there. 

Your best today will make you better tomorrow.

And “better” isn’t just about performance, trophies, or higher numbers.  

It’s also about presence. Kindness. Curiosity and creativity. About goodness.

Not just succeeding ourselves, but being a positive influence in the lives of others.

Being of service.

External success has its place, but the greatest success is living as who you truly are and using your strengths and unique personality to help others. 


What do you want to do with who you are?


Photography by
Marcus Falk Olander

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