Sometimes it is hard to tell when you are living according to your own dreams or when you’re living for your own dreams. For years, I allowed the opinions of others to be more important than my own. What other people thought of me was more important than what I thought of myself. This was an enormous mistake.
Of course other people are always going to try to impose their will and expect you to live according to their expectations. I was a shy and insecure child, who turned into an insecure teenager. I had low self-esteem and I always looked to others to for approval. I also had a habit of surrounding myself with people who needed to put other people down to make themselves feel more important. So, myself esteem was really in the toilet.
Living like this almost destroyed me. I weighed 315 pounds at my heaviest and my body was really suffering the effects of long-term morbid obesity.
Fortunately, I realized my life was going in the wrong direction. I cut out of my life the people whose vision of who I am did not match up with who I thought I was. I stopped associating with and seeking the approval of anyone who had to try to make me feel bad to make themselves feel superior. I started befriending people who treated me with the respect I deserve.
In some cases, the end of a friendship was mutual. In other cases, I was not able to cut a person out completely, either because they are married to a friend or family member, or closely connected with one of my groups of friends. The difference between now and before, I know who I am and how I feel about myself. I can keep their negativity in perspective and give their opinions no consideration whatsoever. In short, I do not listen to them or allow them to affect my own self image. What they think of me or how they treat me says more about them than me, in my opinion.
None of this was easy. It is never easy to end long-time friendships, or distance yourself from people you care about. I learned that I had to care about myself more and that if they cared about me at all, they would have to learn to accept the new me on my terms. Some of them, I’m happy to say did. Others did not. Those friendships have either gone by the way side, or I only associate with them on special occasions.
Once I made the decision to care about my own opinion over the opinion of others, I was able to make choices that helped me improve my life. I feel and look better than I have in years. I am happy. And for the most part, I feel I am making better choices. I’m not all the way there yet. But when I look back at where I’ve been and realize how far I’ve come, I know I can get there.