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May 14, 2020

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Photo by Patryk Grądys on Unsplash

As humans, it’s normal to want to control everything and everyone around us. If I could control what other people do, everything would be fine! So many people are now coming to realize that the only true control we have is over ourselves: how we act or react to things, how we think, feel, and the decisions we make. It’s uncomfortable to accept this reality, but accept it we must. We need to learn how to allow others to be themselves.

What We Normally Do

How often do you say something like:

  • “I let him do that.”
  • “I’ll let you off the hook for now.”
  • “She’s letting me try this out for a week.”
  • “He can’t do that because I said so.”
  • “You’re not allowed to be angry about this because of…”

That last one, especially, tricks us so much.

Here’s the deal. Everyone, including you, gets to think, feel, and act however they want. Some people allow others to dictate their lives, but that’s still a decision they’ve made, whether it’s unconscious or not.

We don’t “allow” or “let” others do the things they already were going to do… We just allow ourselves (or not) to deal with how uncomfortable it is to experience our own feelings about it.

Thinking or saying “you shouldn’t do that” or “you can’t do that” take your power away. Essentially, you’re putting your emotions into someone else’s hands to dictate how YOU feel, and that never ends well.

It’s In Your Best Interest

Allow others to be themselves not because it’s in their best interest—do it because it’s in YOURS. When you let others do whatever the hell they want to do, when they want to do it, you release any attachment to the outcome. Is your spouse upset about something? Nothing has gone wrong. They get to be upset. The moment you make it mean something negative about YOU, you’ve lost all your power to even begin trying to “make it better.”

Related Post: How to Deal With the Fear of Rejection

It’s a lot easier said than done to allow others to be themselves. It feels unnatural. When we try to control others, we’re really trying to wrest their decisions away from them. How do you feel when others try to control you? When others try to wrest your decisions away from you and make those decisions for you?

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How to Allow Others to be Themselves

I don’t know about you, but I get ticked off when other people try to control me. I don’t like it. So why would other people like it when you do the same thing?

THEY DON’T.

So here’s a few tips for allowing others to be themselves, even when you don’t really want them to.

  1. Ask yourself, “Would I want someone to behave this way towards me?”
  2. Do a thought download (a brain dump) onto a piece of paper.
  3. Pick out all the thoughts that include a “should/shouldn’t” or an “I don’t like it when [person] does [behavior]” and all other thoughts that indicate your attachment to how others behave.
  4. Identify how those thoughts make you feel.
  5. Ask yourself, when you feel like that, what do you do?
  6. Ask yourself, when you do those things, what do you create or end up with in your life?
  7. Identify whether those thoughts you’re thinking serve you or not. If they don’t serve you, question why you’re so attached to them at all.
  8. Every time you feel resistance to someone else’s behavior, get curious about it.

Allowing others to be themselves could be one of the hardest things you learn how to do, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll release so much emotional suffering from your life. If people get to do what they want (including you) then it doesn’t mean anything about YOU, and doesn’t affect how you feel about things.

About the author 

Colleen Mitchell

Mindset & accountability life coach, writer, podcaster, and full-time analyst in the power industry. I'm passionate about showing people that how we think determines our realities.

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