Has there ever been a time when you felt you’re good enough for this world and all people ever do is try to change you into someone they want you to be?
I’m sure we’ve all been there at one point of our life (teenage, especially) and most of us reacted with a fiery “How dare you tell me to change myself!” or a wallowing “Am I not good enough?”. Well, no one would have had the courage to say that aloud, but our thoughts ran on those lines at the time.
For those who haven’t experienced this yet, imagine yourself in a situation where you’ve done something wrong and you feel like the whole world is against you. People are telling you to correct yourself, to change a habit or to fix your attitude. You don’t want to listen to them pointing out all your faults, but you have to sit through it. Imagine your mood and your thoughts at that moment. Do you feel like shouting, running away or curling up into a ball and crying?
Before we get into how you should react in such situations, let’s understand why people try to impose their beliefs on you. In other words, why do parents lecture you when you do something wrong, why are family members always giving you advice and how some people indirectly change you in ways you can’t see unless you observe.
In the first and second case, the people who love you want to change you for the better. It might seem like a scolding or a lecture at the time, but the reason they stress on it so much is that they care for you and don’t want you to suffer when you grow up because of a wrong habit or attitude. It seems hard to believe, (trust me, I know) but it’s the truth.
So when your parents or family members scold you when you mess up, they are actually doing you a favour. They are steering you in the right direction through the storm of life, even though to you it appears like they’re trying to sink your ship.
Now, how should you respond to these situations? Running away isn’t an option and fighting with your parents will only bring you more trouble.
Start with thinking about what they are saying. Does it make sense to you? Think from a logical point of view; don’t let your emotions govern your thoughts. It is important to think clearly when you are reviewing the situation, because otherwise your ego will always say the opposite of what your parents do!
These are some things you can ask yourself: Do you feel like you should change yourself in the matter your parents are pointing at? Is it something you want to change? Will it help you in the future? Swallow your pride if you have to, because ego doesn’t do anyone any favours.
Another group of people want to do exactly the opposite of your loved ones’ efforts, and that is to push you in the wrong direction. This can be the people who you hang out with, the ones who seem like they’re doing all the ‘right’ things but are actually trying to bring you down.
For example, all of your friends are doing something that goes against your morality, and you feel alienated because your conscience warns you against it. Now the question starts creeping in, “Should I do it, too?” because it is human nature to want to fit in. And the only way to fit in is to do what the crowd is doing, despite it being wrong or right.
But is it? Do you have to lower yourself to their level just to feel a sense of belonging? The answer is no. No matter how much your friends push you, tease you or mock you, at the end of the day, your actions are always in your hands. And if you give in to the wrong influences, it means you’ve lost that control over yourself.
What should you do when this happens? You can start by listening to your conscience, because it is the strongest power that keeps you on track in life. Does it approve of what the people around you are doing?
If it doesn’t, don’t try to push it down with excuses like peer pressure and urgency to follow the crowd. Remember, you are the only person who can control your actions. Never go against your conscience, because that only leads to guilt and loss of self-confidence, and those are not fun paths to go down.
And if you’re fretting about what the world will think of you if you don’t fit in, just relax. You don’t need the world’s approval, only your own and the ones of your loved ones. Don’t be afraid to say “No!” to the wrong, despite what others will think.
Of course, there’s always a third set of people who simply love the sound of their own voice and consider it a personal goal to give advice wherever they can. In such cases, try not to lose your temper because they just won’t stop talking. Listen to them, see if there’s anything that you can apply in your life, and ignore the rest!
What you’ve read so far was on how to react when people try to change you, and why they do it. But now comes the real question: How can you apply their advice into your life?
Let’s take the example of what most parents tell their children, especially during the COVID-19 period. They try to peel us away from screens and force us into some physical exercise. Imagine the horror – having to jump around and move your limbs till you can’t breathe instead of comfortably sitting in one place and playing online, much less tiring games. Parents instantly become the villains of the story by making you do something against your wish. Your laziness powers your thoughts and they start screaming in your head: “I won’t do that! Why should I? It’s my choice, and I choose to sit here rather than exercising. Why are they annoying me so much about it? How does it affect them, anyway?”
That is our built-in response. But remember what you read in this article, and apply it in this situation. Put your laziness aside and focus on the right questions: Will doing physical exercise help me? Is it better to move around than to sit in one place? Is having so much screen time good for my eyes?
You can search for facts if you don’t know the answers. Facts come in handy when you need to prove something (in this case, playing physical games is better than playing online ones). I’m not asking you to do an absolute 180 degree change, i.e. completely stop your screen time, but to prioritise and do what’s better for yourself.
Apply these tips in your life, and you’ll start noticing how it gets better. And remember, always change for the better, not worse!