“You need to…” Those were the words my partner spoke at the beginning of a sentence a few weeks ago one morning when we were in a heavy discussion about my life in general. Before I knew it, I was in a total tailspin reacting to those words, oblivious to the fact that the anger I was dispelling at that point wasn’t about him at all, even though I was directing it at him. Once I became more level-headed though, I realized the anger was actually with my mother, someone I desperately tried to make happy for as long as she lived, by constantly changing parts of my authentic self, or said in simpler words, trying to people-please her. And people-pleasing would become a toxic pattern that carried on well into my adulthood.
The fact is, I don’t “NEED” to do anything to gain the favor of another. I am me and I am working quite diligently to love my authentic self now. But for many decades I didn’t live in my authentic self. So, when anyone said to me “You need to…” and finished that sentence with something I should change about myself, I’d do it. I’d become a chameleon of sorts, changing my stripes to fit in, all because I was so desperate for the approval of others, all stemming back to where it began, wanting my mother to just love me for me. But, my mother struggled to love me for me because she didn’t love herself. She tried to change that inappropriately by constantly looking outside of herself and using many “You need to’s’” in life with myself and my sister. After a childhood of listening to her countless “You need to’s”, I allowed the pattern to continue into each of my friendships and relationships. I stopped being anything close to authentic because of it. The list became endless on how many things I changed about myself, all stemming from someone saying, “You need to”. Heck, my best friend in my senior year once said to me, “Andy, you need to change your name because Andy doesn’t sound cool” so I changed it to please him, by allowing myself to be called by the name he came up with, that being “A.D.” I became ashamed of my name so much so because of it that I didn’t go by my biological name for over 15 years. Today I go by “Andrew”, because it is a part of my authentic self, something I appreciate now more than I ever used to.
I believe everyone in this world has a truly authentic self, with authentic likes and interests, that make them who they are. Changing any of them because of someone saying “You need to…” is not only people-pleasing, it’s codependent. When my partner spoke those words a few weeks ago, what followed after it was him suggesting that I’d have more friends in life by knowing my audience and not sharing as openly about my life or being as deep as I am with others.
But you know what? That’s me. I’m a deep question kind of guy who loves to share openly about my life. But, I stopped being that in my early childhood because I so desperately wanted the love and approval of my mother that I thought I’d get it by obeying all her “You need to’s.” So, I spent my life trying to be everything I wasn’t and that always seem to come at my own expense, sacrificing my authentic self in the process. And you know what happens when you sacrifice your authentic self in the process? You get depressed, you develop anxiety, and you start living in a codependent relationship where your authentic self isn’t appreciated, where your flaws and shortcomings are pointed out more than the love another has of your authentic self. And unfortunately, one will remain in that type of relationship for as long as they continue listening to those “You need to’s.”
I have very few friends in my life today not by choice, but because I refuse to listen to those “You need to’s” anymore, as I don’t want to compromise my authentic self. Sadly though, it seems that living in my authentic self makes many people I meet uncomfortable. Some say I can be intimidating by how personal I am about my own life and how direct I am with others. Could I be less personal? Could I be less deep? Could I be less of who I am now? Sure, but I don’t want to be “less” anymore, because what I really want to be is “more” of me. The true me. The me that I was as a little boy who just wanted to explore life on his own terms. The authentic me.
Today, I don’t need to be what anyone wants me to be. I choose to be what I want to be and will only give that authority over to my Higher Self, to God, to figure out what that is. I don’t believe a person will ever be truly happy so long as they keep listening and obeying statements from others that start with “You need to…” Because in all reality, the only thing any of us ever need to do is to stop listening to those who think they know better for us what we need to do in life when only God and the Spirit within us ultimately knows what that is…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson