Don’t worry about pleasing them all
You never will
If that sounds harsh — sorry not sorry. You’re wearing yourself out if your constant focus is on making everyone else happy, or in conjunction, being afraid of disappointing anyone.
You cannot control the way other people choose to feel. The key word there is “choose”. If your comment or belief offends someone, it is not your responsibility to stop, retract what you said, justify what you meant, and ensure that you’ve left no wake of sour feelings. That is exhausting.
Of course, we all know when we cross that boundary and are actually saying or doing offensive things — I’m obviously not saying to be careless with your words to whoever you want without consideration.
We’re all very different people. If I don’t really concern myself with climate change and you do, it is not my responsibility to ensure that everything I say about it has to be positive. After all, there’s a good chance that you’re sitting there spewing your beliefs without consideration for my non-concern, right?
People with different backgrounds and different walks of life, so to speak, can get along and become friends. Recognizing that people are different sounds very simple, almost too simple. But the social maturity surrounding the choice to be in the same room as someone who may believe in something that is offensive to you, is innately complex.
Taking it a step further — actually choosing to have a conversation with that person and investigate their heart on the issue is directly connected to your interest in getting to know them and understanding their position. I believe it is a sign of respect when you attempt to know the heart of the individual that you disagree with.
So, thinking about that for a second, you have to be okay with believing things that sometimes may offend people. Sounds sort of funny saying it that way. Consider this — If there are billions of people in the world, and those people all come from different backgrounds, belief systems, cultures, etc. — then you have to know that everything you believe and work toward will not always align with the majority of people. In fact, most times it will not align with other people and it may indirectly result in some backlash or disagreement from another party.
The important part — that’s okay. It is so critical to develop yourself without attempting to conform to specific populations of people who may believe that you need to think like them. Here’s the truth — you don’t. You can truly believe the things that you believe without conviction toward trying to please someone in your life. You really can.
For instance, if you still believe in traditional family roles where you have a two-parent home that consists of mom and dad (not mom and mom or dad and dad), that’s perfectly fine. You aren’t hurting anyone with that belief. You could also believe that it’s the husband’s duty to go to work and the wife should stay home, raise the kids, cook the meals, whatever. You can actually believe that. You aren’t a bad person at all.
In this case you will have to be prepared to be respectful toward the counter-belief of someone else, though. Therein lies the variable of the whole equation. You can successfully adhere to your own beliefs, while respecting someone else’s. We really miss that second part, don’t we?
In another example, if I’m speaking to a feminist and this feminist becomes upset after I tell her that I really want my wife to stay home and I want to be the one going to work, there’s nothing I can do about the reaction I receive for that. It’s their decision to judge me, criticize my worldview, or throw it back in my face. The difference is that I don’t owe it to anyone to alter my belief so that they can walk away with a smile.
On the contrary, I owe it to myself and society to attempt to be the most honest version of me. If it is offensive to someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve done something wrong or need to change. Of course, we should always be respectful and show tolerance toward the people that we interact with, keeping in mind that everyone comes from a different background, as stated earlier.
I don’t have to believe your culture makes sense.
It just seems like I’ve seen a lot of people trying to change other people lately. I think that’s the wrong idea and image. I don’t have to believe in the way you raise your kids. I don’t have to believe your culture makes sense. Heck, I don’t even have to believe you should wash your hands before dinner.
My societal reaction and responsibility is to realize that I can believe what I believe while you believe what you believe without having to battle our opposing sides into the dirt with no clear outcome. What a waste of time, right?
If you’ve chosen to skim this or you don’t read much of anything on the page, read this next part.
Life is not black and white with definitive lines in the sand. There’s a whole lot of gray area to work with. Wearing ourselves out, constantly questioning our own beliefs — whether they’re right or wrong, changing to fit some mold or conforming to an idea because someone convinced you that you were wrong, is not the answer to a better society. Being honest, respectful, and understanding — these are all necessities if we truly want to grow together.
But of course, this is all my belief. You are entitled to your own. The beauty of being an individual.
I think if we can remain true to our individual self while considering and accepting another individual, then it would seem we have successfully broken some of those barriers of our differences. What a great world that would be.