Everybody has some degree of FOPA, or Fear of Other People's Approval. We've become so accustomed to fitting society's mold that we've stopped thinking and acting for ourselves.
But I argue that to truly make a difference and to truly live your best life, you've got to figure out a way to eliminate most of your FOPA. Once you do, you'll be more comfortable taking on new challenges that may change the status quo.
Before I share a couple strategies on how to reduce or eliminate FOPA, let's dive a little deeper into the reasons why you need to kick FOPA to the curb:
1) To maximize your potential.
Instead of conforming to society's expectations, you can take risks and try new things that you might never have done when you had lower self-esteem. One example of how FOPA negatively affected someone is a male classmate who loved to dance. But because his peers made fun of him he stopped. What a shame to never maximize your true potential because you cared so much about what other people thought.
2) To develop the confidence to stand on your own.
Extreme sufferers of FOPA are unable to stand up for themselves. They are meek and timid. As a result, they tend to join cliques or be part of mobs to survive. Sometimes they use their mob to bully others to make themselves feel better. But if you are always trying to find shelter in numbers, you will never develop the confidence to be anything special.
3) To ultimately feel happier.
When you aren't afraid of what people think, you experience the freedom to do as you wish. Having freedom is one of the most important components of happiness. With confidence and happiness comes kindness. Only unhappy people hate on others.
I hope you all agree that living with FOPA is a path to a suboptimal life. FOPA not only makes us feel bad about ourselves, but it also encourages us try and make others feel bad about themselves.
FOPA is a vicious cycle that must be broken.
I know too many people with great business ideas who aren't willing to even start a website out of fear of ridicule. Instead, they let other people with less creativity and a worst product prosper.
One of the best ways to conquer FOPA is to come up with a personal mantra and live it each day.
For example, my personal mantra that guides me through everything from sports, to business, to fatherhood is: Never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill. Feel free to adopt this mantra as well.
Battling It Out In Tennis
With this personal mantra, I push myself to train as hard as possible on the tennis court in order to battle at the USTA 5.0 level.
I've lost the majority of my matches over these past four years, but at least I've been willing to show up and battle. So many of my friends quit tennis once they got bumped up to 5.0 or were never available during matches because they were afraid of losing.
The losses stung less over time because I knew I'd done my best to stay in shape and work on my weaknesses. If my opponent beat me, I shook his hand and honored his victory. Then I'd ask myself what are the things I can work on to get better.
Keep On Going
My personal mantra has also helped me keep on writing on Financial Samurai 3X a week on average for the past 10 years. Every time I don't want to write, I remind myself of my personal mantra to keep on going no matter what.
Three hours of sleep because my boy was crying? Keep on writing. Got back late from a long high school tennis match an hour's drive away? Keep on writing. Receive a mention from a major media publication that boosts traffic and allows me to do nothing for the rest of the week? Keep on writing.
It's extremely easy to slack off if you don't have a boss. It's even easier to slack off if you don't really have to worry too much about money. This easy path towards laziness is one of my biggest fears as a father.
Taking life for granted is why I've come up with a real estate stealth wealth solution and am considering moving to a less diverse part of the country to reduce the chances that my boy turns into one of my unmotivated neighbors. Living at home with no direction at almost 30 years old is truly sad.
Final FOPA Conquering Strategy
Only people who truly love you spend time giving you constructive feedback on how to improve. Take their criticism to heart. In fact, ask for even more constructive criticism every chance you have.
Only people who are jealous of you keep criticizing you because they are too afraid to try themselves. The only way to make themselves feel better is to try to keep you down. They suffer the most from FOPA! Too bad they are the main reason why so many people suffer from FOPA.
Let me tell you one last way to overcome FOPA
For example, the reason I'm not afraid to get in a physical fight is that I've been in plenty of physical fights before. I loved fighting back against bullies in school, even if that meant getting suspended like I was a couple of times.
Blood on my lips tasted so good!
In middle school and high school, I took the blows and kept fighting back against my oppressors. Eventually, they stopped because they no longer wanted to get pounded into submission.
Once you know what pain feels like, you gradually lose your fear of standing up for yourself offline or online. You start caring less about what other people think. It's the same way with money.
Once you know what losing 40% of your net worth feels like within six months that took 10 years to accumulate, you're better able to withstand future financial hits. You also become more aware of your true risk tolerance.
Learning martial arts to break your opponent during the next altercation is akin to improving your financial acumen. The more financially educated you are, the more confidence you will have to manage your money through any part of the economic cycle. The stronger your self-defense skills, the higher you'll hold your head up in a dark alley.
Come up with your personal mantra. Build wealth to give yourself options. Learn how to fight back with your mind and body. Fail repeatedly so you realize nothing is as scary as you had imagined.
If you do these things you will eradicate your Fear Of Other People's Approval and eventually succeed in your goals.
Readers, what is your personal mantra you tell yourself to keep FOPA at bay? Why do we seek other people's approval? What is holding you back from doing something different? What are examples where one didn't pursue something due to FOPA?
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