It’s perfectly safe to say our decisions, choices, and actions have an effect and impact on our world. What we say and do affects those in our social circle, at our jobs, in our culture, and our society at large without exception. Interestingly, we often make decisions based on how we think people will view us, or how we want people to perceive us, while in reality the perception of others toward us has less impact on our lives than most of our non-ego related choices.
Am I saying it’s not important to care what people think of us? I know you want to fire off examples which might prove otherwise such as going out in public without having showered in three weeks or getting that neck tattoo of a demon with an erection. Those are cases where one might be displaying indifference or flaunting disdain for public approval so they don’t count.
I’m talking about how much energy we expend to gain the approval or avoid the judgment of the throngs of strangers that we pass every day, none of which will mention us in their wills and testaments. Yet we worry about how we look or what we are driving or what social class we might be representing. Are we doing our culture proud? Are we saying things that are relatable to the cool kids?
Again, I’m not saying our projections designed to influence others’ perceptions of us have no effect. I’m saying that being perceived as Ms. or Mr. Wonderful or Glamorous or Successful has much less impact on the shaping of our culture than how we regard others. We may be surrounded by our steel cage of entitlement as we drive to our destinations but every errant maneuver of our vehicles that leaves a wake of frustrated drivers impacts the world far more than showing we can afford a new BMW.
Perhaps we need to embrace a greater level of self expression that does not bear the intention of gaining approval. Perhaps if we give ourselves permission to make choices that reflect the elements of ourselves we find titillating, we would be much less starved for the approval of others. We would then focus our actions on giving others the respect and consideration they would like to have.