Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

How to “Ignore” People and Find What’s Important To You

Figuring out your values apart from "successful" people's opinions and views.

Pablo Heimplatz
Source: Pablo Heimplatz

“Focus on the moment, not the monsters that may or may not be up ahead.” —Ryan Holiday

Someone recently asked me, “What worth do I have without success, money, and accomplishments?” This wasn’t the first time someone asked a question of that nature, and it’s no surprise. We relentlessly chase things that don’t make us happy. It’s like we’re always running on a hamster wheel, going in circles trying to find our value and believing we’ll find happiness once we have it all. We tell ourselves, “If only I had more, then I would be happy.” This is a myth, but most of us buy into it. Even if we know it isn’t true, we keep going, wondering all the while when we’ll reach the finish line.

It’s important to know that, you have value apart from the things you own, the balance in your bank account, and the things you do. That’s a hard concept to grasp for many people, because most of us have been trained to believe otherwise. But if you think about it from a different perspective, the concept becomes easier to understand. Think about a child in your life: your own child, a niece, a nephew, or any child who means something to you. Do you love that child because he or she pays you money, gives you gifts, and is successful? No, of course not. You love him or her as is.

At some point in our lives, we start believing that just being who we are isn’t enough. We let other people—“successful” people—tell us what and who we need to be in order to feel content. In that process, we lose what’s important to us. We lose sight of our own path. We forget where we set out to go in the first place. We lose sense of what we really need and, as a result, we aim for more. If you set out to accomplish more than other people, or if you just do what society and people tell you is “supposed” to make you happy, you aren’t fully experiencing who you are. You aren’t living and taking action according to what’s important to you.

In my work with clients, I find myself helping many of them break down the barriers that hold them stuck in a life that doesn’t make them happy—a life that other people told them would give them fulfillment. Other people will convince you to do things that don’t align with what’s important to you, making you think it’s the right thing to do. They’ll convince you that you don’t have a choice. At some point, when you realize you aren’t happy, you’ll think there must be something wrong with you. But as I explain to my clients, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just that your true desires and values don’t match your actions. You aren’t being who you are. You aren’t going where you originally set out to go. It’s not that difficult, but we make it difficult by listening to other people, when really we should ignore them. You think you have to work so hard for people to love you. You shouldn’t have to hustle for anything, especially not for the feeling of importance and love.

Finding Out What’s Important To You

“The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.” —Norman Cousins

You can’t have it all in life; there’s always a trade off. But you can have what is important to you. You can find value within, but first you have to know what you really love and what really matters to you. In the midst of all the nonsense and chatter, deep within, there is a whisper. That whisper knows what’s important to you. Don’t be scared to listen. To live your own truth is the greatest gift of all. Living life as the person you are is like wearing that perfectly tailored black dress or fitted suit; it just feels right on you. It fits because it was made for you.

There’s nothing more rewarding than accepting yourself fully, exactly as you are. And when you can start to see yourself as having value, you’ll know what’s important to you. That’s when the whole game changes.

Inspirational speaker Mastin Kipp says it perfectly: “In life, there will always be rules, structures, and systems. And there will always be a chance we will be judged, outcast, or ridiculed for our behaviors. However, basing our lives on the needs of others limits our true potential, not only for us but also for our planet. You were born to be your most unique Self. If you are living a self-ish life, the world is only benefitting from some of your gifts, the rest are hidden, inaccessible. Find those moments, no matter how big or small to cease the opportunity to truly be your greatest Self. Follow your path. Walk the road less traveled. Speak up. Express your Self. Embrace your needs. Show your Self.”

True success isn’t measured by how much money you make or how many awards you win. It’s measured by how much of you is expressed through what you do. Take some time to really evaluate what’s important to you. Know your personal goals, and only act in ways that follow that path. If you take a detour, it’s okay. Don’t judge yourself too much. Just take note not to take that road the next time. Sometimes we have to try things on for size to know they aren’t a right fit. Once you know something doesn’t fit, don’t try to buy it, thinking it will fit once you lose those 10 pounds. If it doesn’t fit today, it isn’t going to fit tomorrow or the next day. Wayne Dyer said, “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.” I agree. And now I’d like to hear from you. Leave me a comment or send a private message to answer the question: What’s important to you? What do you value?

Copyright Ilene Strauss Cohen 2017