Are our lives based on the perception of others?

How often do we allow others define who we are? Do we live life on our own terms or on the terms of other people?
“It is really frustrating. I have worked so hard to be a good wife and all I get is ingratitude. What more do they want me to do. I have gone out of my way to try to impress and satisfy everybody but it has really not yielded any good results. When I have I make sure that I try my best to satisfy all no matter how small, but as soon as I can’t meet up their needs I become a bad person. Is it right to live my live based on the perceptions of others?” This comment was made by a participant at a mothers’ forum in Abuja some weeks back.  Mrs. Adeshola Adeniran, a legal practitioner asked what and who defines the good and bad in people?”
The question basically asks if our personality should be based on the opinions and perceptions of others. We generally live in a society where our personality and relevance are based on the judgment of others. We have situations where most people are obsessed about what others think and say about them and they strive to do whatever keeps them in the good books of other people notwithstanding if its positive or negative.
Mrs. Helen Adeleye Kassim, a 38-year-old educationist says: “I don’t care at all what people think of me. As long as I am sure that what I am doing is not against my creator, I don’t really bother. You cannot please everyone in this world. If you strive to do so then you will automatically end up being a puppet because you will never achieve anything for yourself. What does one gain by pleasing the world and forsaking our creator? For me, no one can define what my personality is or should be. I have a mind of my own and should be able to make good use of it. It does not mean I am not open to advice when I am wrong but when I have a strong belief that what I am doing is not against my creator then I’m sorry, your opinion just doesn’t count.”
If you want to please people, you have to lie most of the time in order not to hurt their feelings. But if you are sincere with yourself, you will find out that you will step on the toes of many if you have to keep your policies and faith strong.
Hajiya Fatima Aliyu, a 42-year-old teacher based in Kaduna, says: “When you have a particular standard you want to set for yourself in life, you will surely have to automatically be bad to some people if not a majority. What is good and what is bad is defined in different ways by different people. Do not forget we are all human and we all have an element of bad in us. No one is perfect but when you live your life based on what people will think of you, then you can be sure progress will be hard coming your way. You are only living the lives of others and not yours. Everyone has his/her life to live and so are our characters. Even a set of twins don’t have the same characteristics; they sure differ in one way or the other. I would say that you should continue to do what you feel is good; your reward is not with the people but from the Almighty. If you want to please God you always have to tell the truth even if it is against your own parents. People who were hated by many others, God loved them the most. Examples are all prophets. And Allah knows best who is truthful because only He knows your sins, good deeds and your intentions, not people.”
Abdullahi Mnaga, a 39-year-old engineer believes that: “No one has the right to define who we are but on the other hand we should always try to be good. Everyone has a good and bad side. No one can claim to be perfect. It’s true that we can’t please everyone but, it’s also true that we can give our best to everyone so that, they themselves will see that no matter how hard they try to bring us down or make us look bad, we will always remain good. Never pay ingratitude with bad deeds.”
Hajiya Maryam Abdullahi, a marriage counsellor, says: “We should never ever think ourselves as good enough just because everyone testifies that we are good. When we allow that kind of perception sink in us then we will stop learning and assume we are the perfect being.
Naturally, when that happens we begin to see ourselves above every other human being.”
She adds that: “Perfection belongs to God and He alone. We can’t please everybody no matter how much we try. So, always do good and learn to be a better person no matter the ingratitude that comes our way. Most of all, we should learn to stop thinking about whatever pessimists have to say about our character. Because the most important thing is how we value ourselves before our creator. He alone should be the judge of whom and what we are.”


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