Social Question

Shippy's avatar

At which point in your life did you stop living for other people?

Asked by Shippy (9857 points ) January 29th, 2013

When did you realize that people judge you anyway? That a lot of choices you made perhaps, were for other’s benefit , but in return left you frustrated or lost?

When did you, if you have, realize, even when trying to explain you would be judged anyway? (For e.g. Being mentally ill or different in some way). Or misunderstood.

How did this change you? Were you alienated? Or have you found yourself alienating others? How has it changed you? For the better? What positives and or negatives did you take away with you because of this experience?

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19 Answers

bookish1's avatar

People have been telling me to do this since I was in high school, and I have known it intellectually for a long time, but I think that this year is the first year that I have truly begun living for myself.

Judi's avatar

I didn’t realize how much I did this until I moved 800 miles away from my family. Suddenly I wasn’t living in anyone’s shadow and I had to decide for myself who I would be, what I thought and how I would react to the world around me. It was liberating, especially since I never realized how much I relied on others to tell me who I was.

janbb's avatar

Really since my husband left last year, my mother died and my kids moved far away, I decided I would be the arbiter of what was good for me. I have good friends as sounding boards but my choices are my own.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I’ve never lived for other people, which is probably why my mother thinks I’m so selfish. If I lived for my family, I’d be a basket case, even more stressed out than I already am. I live for me, as they’re adults and should be able to take care of themselves. After moving away from home, my husband and I have separated ourselves quite a but from our families of origin. He’s my family now.

Coloma's avatar

For 10 years now since I divorced my ex husband after 21.5 years of marriage and raising my daughter who is now 25. Sweet, sweet only me. I was, literally, on a high for the first 5–6 years solidly and while that feeling has faded some I am extremely content and LOVE being single, living alone and catering to myself. I don’t think I could ever live with someone ever again, nope, I feel 10,000% whole and complete, as we all are, by myself.
I adore coming and going as I please and doing whatever I want without any obligation or consideration of others.

I paid my womanly dues at the sacrificial alter of marriage and family and I’m never going back. lol
I have a great relationship with my daughter who lives about 20 minutes from me with her boyfriend she is taking me to see Django Unchained this afternoon and being friends as equal adults is very rewarding.

marinelife's avatar

When I became an adult and went through years of therapy.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

After my Mom died.

I was shunned by her and some of my family members after I came out of the closet. After she passed, I no longer hid my sexuality from others. I brought my partners around to meet family members, and after that, to family functions.

They all love my current partner.

wundayatta's avatar

I never stopped living for other people. I am completely dependent on others, as are most of us, unless you live off the grid in the woods and never see anyone and do everything for yourself. But most of us live in a community and we are dependent on others to make life possible. We use cars, houses and infrastructure that other people build. We work at jobs provided by other people. Or we are dependent on others to do the work we hire them to do. Show me a person who says they aren’t dependent on and therefore living for others, and I’ll show you someone who is oblivious to reality.

It is not possible to stop living for other people unless, like I said, you take yourself off the grid. Every choice in the day takes into account a calculation about how others will be affected. Perhaps people aren’t aware of it, but your subconscious mind knows and is having its say, too. We live in a web of relationships and we are all like spiders who can feel every little tug made by every single person in that web. I don’t think most of us stop living for other people until we have stopped living. I don’t believe anyone stops caring about the judgments of others, either.

What I think happens is that we start learning to be more sophisticated about it. We learn how to manage other people’s perceptions. We learn how to hide the things they won’t like from them. We learn how to hide from society, if necessary, perhaps by not talking to people in the real world and making most of our contacts online. Maybe we live way out in the sticks and spend most of our time with animals. Maybe we hide in our rooms and write. Maybe we get drunk or high a lot. Maybe we move thousands of miles from our families of origin and live among people who don’t speak our language (as my sister does). Maybe we become artists and live in NYC and gain latitude because everyone knows artists are nuts (as my brother did). Maybe, indeed, we go mentally ill, thus creating a little more room for ourselves as the others become more tolerant of weirdness on the part of the mentally ill (as I did).

I’m not saying we might go mentally ill on purpose. But that the response to too much social pressure we can’t submit to would trigger mental illness. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to me.

I do not mean to say we hide or create space between us and others in a pejorative way. I see it as a survival mechanism—a way of coping with the need to account for others all the fucking time. We all have unique ways of creating a little space between us and society, but we can never get very far away. Never far enough to have the mental freedom many of us wish for. It is always there—that pressure, like being twenty feet beneath the surface of the water and feeling that constant pressure on our sinuses.

These survival mechanisms are like blowing our noses to equalize the pressure. That is all we can do. We can’t make the pressure go away. We can only cope as best possible. Even if we went into space, it wouldn’t go away. We’d be in constant contact with earth and also having to deal with our fellow astronauts all the time. In fact, it would probably be worse then ever in space.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t think we can make any blanket statements about an individuals preferences. Being a fan of personality typing I have learned much over the years about myself and others. Feeling types are much more oriented towards “needing” special relationship connections, and rational thinking types are more concerned with learning than relationship.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to lifestyle choices.

Those personalities that have strong feeling preferences will always feel incomplete without a “special” relationship, but for those of us that are creative and intuitive thinking types, relationships are second to ongoing learning and knowledge, freedom and growth producing experiences.
Someone like you would go crazy by yourself, someone like me thrives on my freedom and lack of desire to tie myself down in a relationship again.
The real key is knowing yourself and choosing what works best for your particular brand of relational style. It’s all good as long as one is living in congruency with their true self.

I think that a lot of feeling and hardcore relationship oriented types think there must be something wrong with those that choose to not be in relationship, and I can certainly say my thoughts are the opposite, I think that people put too much emphasis on being coupled up as the end all and be all of their universe. Bottom line, each to his own and there is no right/wrong answer.
To thine own self be true, THAT is my only mission if life these last years and a good mission it is.:-)

janbb's avatar

There is a big difference between living for oneself and living by oneself. I have many loving friends and my two sons whom I would do anything for but I make up my own mind about how to live.

Coloma's avatar

@janbb Exactly! Being caring towards vs. being controlled by others.

burntbonez's avatar

It seems like being controlled by is a subtle issue. What do we mean by control? What degree of control? It sounds like @wundayatta is saying that we are controlled simply because we live in society and we can not survive without cooperation from others.

But @janbb and @Coloma are looking at it more narrowly. Control, in their case, sounds like a level of psychic pressure, not generalized dependence that all of us have. They seem to be talking about a locus of control over their own activities that seems to be narrower for some than others. It sounds hard to quantify, but it would be interesting to get some examples from them about what level of freedom they have now that they didn’t have in some previous time, and what changed in order to get that freedom.

KNOWITALL's avatar

At age 17 I decided to no longer live in fear of my mother’s drinking, or anyone else’s opinions, moved out and was happy. Adults didn’t seem to have the answers I needed or follow their own advice.

I usually alienate people who are judgemental or try to tell me how things ‘should be’, it annoys me because they don’t always have all the information I have.

Because I’ve learned to disregard ignorance, I have lived a very happy adult life for the most part.

Coloma's avatar

@burntbonez Personal examples for me would include defragging from the programming not doing ANYTHING out of a sense of “duty, obligation or guilt.”
Not being “dependent” on others approval or opinions.
Not “shoulding” on myself, nor others.
Not operating out of rote conditioning but true, conscious self awareness, as soon as that is accessed.

Us NT types really, TRULY, do not CARE about others opinions of us and have a much lower “need” for meaningful relationships. We want mind mates over help mates and the best way to seduce us is to seduce our intellect over our genitals. lol
It is just how we are wired, and this wiring is especially not how females of the species are conditioned to be.
Us female NT types are more masculine in our energies even though I am ALL woman.

I do not share the “typical” female emotional reasoning and need for romantic fantasy. Gag!
If romance novels were the only book on earth I’d burn them all and write my own entertainment. haha
I HATE sappy, cutisie, romantic movies. Gag!
Feeling types are much more dependent on a sense of others approval and have a much stronger need to be constantly reassured of others affections and approval to maintain a strong sense of self than us rational thinking types.

YARNLADY's avatar

I stopped trying to be like everyone else in the late 1960’s, during the hippie days. I still spend most of my days being overly concerned for and with my family. I have my two youngest grandsons on the weekends and I miss them a lot during the week.

I have two of my adult grandsons living here, and I miss the old days when they were small, too, although I enjoy their company now.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I stopped as soon as my husband passed away.

I am as we speak waiting for a big earth changing event to take me out. No one actually understands this and in fact everyone has alienated themselves from me. My bff has even moved on with her life and has tried to capture the good ol days with another girl who is half her age. I believe my friend is trying to recapture what we used to have and keep it alive by being friends with this girl. All I can do now is be the friend that was, its clear she doesn’t think I’m capable to be the friend that is right now or maybe she just couldn’t be bothered, since my problems are now more grown up I suppose you could say.

Shippy's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl I know the feeling. For me it was being diagnosed with BP. Plus my subsequent massive depression. Lot’s of friends vanished. The worse part is all of my husbands ex wives and my late husband I found out, think I am ‘bonkers’. Nice right? Oh well personally I think they are all nuts. So we are even.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@Shippy it’s funny, my friends kind of thrived on drama of my bipolar, but when my husband was in the hospital she went on hiatus literally telling me she couldn’t be there for me she just couldn’t do it.

But one day she did want to “support” me and come to the house before I went to the hospital. I agreed. The entire time she was at my house was spent on her talking about how she was cheating on her husband and she wanted my advice. I was so mad. After that I pretty much lost the best friend feeling. It sucked because we had been friends for over 15 years. I guess she was just not ready to deal with death. It was me who had to hold her hand and support her on the walk down the funeral aisle towards my husband so she could see him one last time and then she disappeared after that.

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