10 signs you’re letting other people dictate your path in life

When Oscar-winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence, took a two-year hiatus from Hollywood, many were left scratching their heads.

The then 27-year-old had been the highest-paid actress in the world and had an incredibly successful career.

In interviews, Lawrence revealed that she had started to feel lost and unfulfilled. But with time away from the limelight, Lawrence found herself again.

She spoke about how she had been so caught up in her career that she allowed other people’s expectations to dictate her path.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, she shared, “…I felt like it had reached a point where people weren’t satisfied with just my existence. So that kind of took me away from the thought that work or your career can bring any kind of peace to your soul.”

The hiatus was a chance to reflect, reevaluate and reclaim control over her life.

Her story is not uncommon. Many of us allow external factors to influence our decisions and shape our lives without even realizing it.

Perhaps you too have felt the pressure of societal expectations, peer influence, or family obligations leading you down a path that you didn’t consciously choose for yourself.

But it’s never too late to reclaim control and start living life on your own terms.

So if you’re looking to do that, you’re in the right place.

Below, we’ll discuss the 9 signs you’re letting others dictate your life — and how you can take back control. 

Let’s begin.

1) You’re constantly seeking approval

If you find yourself habitually seeking validation and approval from others, it could be a clear sign you’re allowing others to dictate your path in life.

Approval seeking isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s quite natural to want to be liked and accepted by those around you.

The problem arises when the need for approval becomes so strong that it influences your decisions and controls your actions.

You may find yourself making choices based on what you think will please others, even if it means sacrificing your own happiness or going against your personal values.

Equally, a fear of disappointing others can also lead to avoiding risks or new opportunities, leaving you stuck in a place of comfort and complacency rather than venturing out and fulfilling your true potential.

The constant need for external validation can also lead to feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem. It can become a never-ending cycle where you depend on others for your self-worth, instead of finding it within yourself.

Remember, it’s your life and your journey.

While it’s okay to consider other people’s opinions, the final decision should always rest with you. After all, you’re the one who has to live with the consequences of your choices.

2) You’re not following your passion

If you find yourself stuck in a job you dislike or pursuing a career that doesn’t align with your passions, this could be another sign that you’re letting other people dictate your path in life.

Often, we’re influenced by societal expectations or parental pressure to choose a ‘safe’ and ‘stable’ career.

While financial stability is important, it’s equally crucial to do something that brings you joy and satisfaction.

You might be suppressing your dreams and ambitions for fear of judgment or failure.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to write a novel, start your own business, or travel the world, but the voices of others saying it’s too risky or impractical have held you back.

Living someone else’s dream can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration. It can also result in burnout as you’re constantly pushing yourself to excel in an area that doesn’t genuinely interest you.

3) You’re not setting personal boundaries

If you constantly find yourself saying ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’, it might be a sign that you’re letting others dictate your life.

Not setting personal boundaries can lead to feelings of resentment, stress, and burnout.

Whether it’s:

  • Agreeing to take on extra work
  • Attending social events you’d rather skip
  • Letting people treat you in ways you don’t appreciate

Failing to set limits can negatively impact your mental well-being.

Remember that saying ‘no’ isn’t about being selfish. It’s about respecting your own needs and valuing your time and energy.

You have the right to prioritize your own needs just as much as those of others.

4) You’re living in constant fear of judgment or criticism

If the fear of being judged or criticized is holding you back from making decisions or taking actions, it’s a clear indication that you’re letting others control your life.

This fear can prevent you from expressing your true self or pursuing your dreams. It can lead to self-doubt and indecisiveness, causing you to second-guess every decision you make.

In the end, everyone has their own opinions and beliefs, and it’s impossible to please everyone.

The key is to accept that criticism is a part of life and not let it deter you from your path. Your life should be guided by your own values and aspirations, not the opinions or judgments of others.

5) You’re neglecting your own needs and desires

If you’re constantly putting the needs and wants of others before your own, this is a telling sign that you’re letting other people dictate your life.

Perhaps you’re always available to help others at the drop of a hat, even if it means cancelling your own plans or giving up your free time.

Or maybe you find yourself always aligning your preferences with those of your friends or family, even when they conflict with what you truly want.

While it’s admirable to be considerate and helpful, continuously neglecting your own needs can lead to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction.

Moreover, it can also affect your self-esteem and self-worth.

But it’s okay to prioritize yourself. Your needs, desires, and feelings are just as important as those of others.

By honoring your own needs, you’re not only nurturing your mental well-being but also setting a foundation for healthier relationships.

6) You can’t make decisions without consulting others

If you find yourself unable to make decisions without seeking the input and approval of others, it’s a sign that you’re letting them steer your life.

It’s normal to ask for advice or opinions when faced with difficult choices, but the final decision should always be yours.

Reliance on others for decision-making can stem from a lack of self-confidence or fear of making mistakes.

However, it’s essential to remember that making mistakes is part of the learning process. It helps in personal growth and allows you to gain valuable life experiences.

Trust your judgment and learn to listen to your intuition. Making independent decisions will not only boost your confidence but also ensure that you’re living a life that aligns with your values.

7) You’re constantly comparing yourself to others

Living in the age of social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison.

If you find yourself constantly measuring your life against those of others, it could mean that you’re letting external factors dictate your path.

Comparisons can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. They can also influence your choices, making you strive for things that might not necessarily bring you happiness or fulfillment.

Remember, everyone has their own unique journey with different timelines and milestones. What works for someone else might not work for you.

Focus on your own growth and progress, and strive to become the best version of yourself.

8) You’re afraid to express your true feelings

If you’re constantly hiding your true feelings or opinions for fear of upsetting others or causing conflict, it’s a sign that you’re letting other people dictate your path.

This fear of expression can leave you feeling unheard and invalidated.

Expressing your thoughts and emotions is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and asserting your individuality.

It’s okay to have different opinions and feelings, and it’s important to communicate them respectfully.

9) You feel unfulfilled

Feeling unfulfilled or constantly questioning if there’s more to life could be a sign that you’re living according to someone else’s standards or expectations.

If you’re following a path that doesn’t align with your passions and values, it’s unlikely to bring you true happiness or satisfaction.

It’s important to identify what truly matters to you and what brings you joy. Your path should be guided by your own aspirations and not dictated by societal norms or expectations.

10) You’ve lost sense of who you are

If you feel like you’ve lost touch with who you truly are, it might be because you’re allowing others to dictate your life.

Being overly influenced by others can lead to a loss of individuality and a disconnect from your authentic self.

Take time to self-reflect and rediscover what truly motivates, interests, and inspires you. Remember, it’s your life, and only you have the right to define your own identity and path.


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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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