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Stop Suffering for the Sake of False Faces

Key Lesson: Your susceptibility to flattery is inseparable from the suffering you go through whenever you hear that someone may dislike you even when you couldn't care less about the person involved.

A New Kind of Self-Command

Any time we pretend to be something we're not, we do so out of fear that without that "persona" to protect us -- to make that impression we want -- we won't get what we want. This whole way of thinking is secret self-sabotage. It sinks us in our personal and business relationships as surely as a torpedo wrecks the ship it strikes. Learning how to stop this self-sinking is our focus here.

The general rule of thumb is that the more you demand or crave the respect of others, the less likely you are to receive it. So it makes no sense to try and change the way others treat you by learning calculated behaviors or attitude techniques in order to appear in charge. The only thing these clever cover-ups really produce is yet another source of secret inner conflict, which, in turn, only fuels further self-sabotage. Besides, what you're really looking for in your relationships isn't command over others -- but over yourself. So what's the answer?

Stop trying to be strong. Instead, catch yourself about to act from weakness.

Don't be too surprised by this unusual instruction. A brief examination reveals its wisdom. Following are ten examples of where you may be secretly sabotaging yourself while wrongly assuming you're strengthening your position with others.

  1. Fawning before people to win their favor.
  2. Expressing contrived concern for someone's well-being.
  3. Making small talk to cover up nervousness.
  4. Hanging onto someone's every word.
  5. Looking for someone's approval.
  6. Asking if someone is angry with you.
  7. Fishing for a kind word.
  8. Trying to impress someone.
  9. Gossiping.
  10. Explaining yourself to others.

Your awareness of any one of these self-compromising actions within you is the proof that it's some form of fear -- and not you -- that wants to do the explaining, fawning, impressing, blabbing, or whatever that self-sabotaging inner pressure is pushing you to commit. Each time you feel this pressurized urge to give yourself away, silently but solidly refuse to release this pressure by giving into its demands. It may help you to succeed sooner if you know that fear has no voice unless it tricks you into giving it one. Choosing inner seeing over the wish to be seen by others in a complimentary light stops the cycle of self-sabotage.

This article is excerpted from The Essential Laws of Fearless Living (pages 81-84).

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