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How I Stopped Being a People Pleaser & Embraced Myself to Walk My Own Path

“No one possesses the ultimate truth. The advice we receive from others is usually drawn from their personal experiences, but it doesn’t necessarily mean their truth will align with ours. This includes advice from our parents. Although they usually offer guidance out of love, their narratives are unique to them and should not automatically become our narratives. We must consciously create our own stories, otherwise we risk blindly following in others’ footsteps.”

Hello! Who are you?

Hello there, I’m Bayu Prihandito. I grew up in Indonesia and moved to Germany when I was 17 to study. After college, I started working as an engineer and got promoted pretty quickly.

But even though things looked good from the outside, I knew it wasn’t the right path for me. So, I changed my career to become a psychology consultant. Now, I work as a life coach, and I really enjoy it.

One fun fact about me is that I love to dance. In fact, I started teaching dance classes when I was 18 to help pay for school. This hobby of mine has even taken me to other countries like Holland, Malaysia, France, and back to Indonesia.

I would say that I’m a happy person, but I know that happiness comes and goes. I believe that the only thing that stays constant is inner peace and gratitude.

So, I try to focus on being grateful and finding peace from within. I do this through meditation and gratitude practices, and it’s made a big difference in my life.

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

My struggle was that everything I’d done in my life seemed aimed at fulfilling others’ expectations. As mentioned before, I completed my studies in engineering, earning both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

I wasn’t a born genius, so these achievements required a significant amount of effort, especially since they involved mastering German, a language notoriously difficult to learn.

When I began working as an engineer, I initially believed everything would change. I’d start earning and be able to afford things that had been beyond my reach.

However, as I ascended the professional ladder, I realized that the items I was buying were attempts to fill an internal void, a void impervious to material goods.

It was a challenging period for me, not least because I had started supporting my parents back home. The thought of quitting my job filled me with dread, primarily because it might mean ceasing to help my parents. Questions like, “Did I waste all these years studying the wrong subject?” and “Am I being selfish if I pursue my dreams?” began to haunt me.

Eventually, I took some time for self-reflection. I thought deeply about my life and realized that even my decision to study engineering was a move to satisfy others’ expectations.

The shame and guilt I felt when contemplating leaving my job stemmed largely from concerns about what others, including my family, would think of me.

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

At this stage in my life, the concept of happiness felt alien to me. Every day, I had to muster the will to get out of bed and go to work. The purpose of my job seemed to diminish with each passing day. While I resided in the largest home I’d ever had, it also housed the biggest void in my heart.

I didn’t share my struggles with many people. At this point, what others thought of me still held significant weight in my mind. I chose to reveal my truth only to my two closest friends. I vented to them every day after work. Looking back, I regret burdening them with my incessant complaints.

However, I did express my gratitude to them, acknowledging that their presence made an unimaginably challenging moment bearable. Without them, I can’t fathom how I would have navigated that tough period.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

Through the inner work that I engaged in, including meditation and plenty of self-reflection, I realized I had only two options.

Option A: I continue climbing a ladder that I know isn’t right for me, acquiring a larger house, a faster car, and more material possessions to fill an ever-growing void.

Or option B: I embark on the adventure of my lifetime and discover what medium I can use, beyond engineering, to deliver value to others.

I chose Option B.

I would describe the transition as a blend of circumstances and my own deliberate actions. I feel fortunate to have understood early in my career the truth behind the adage, “Money doesn’t bring happiness”. And the steps I took required a leap of faith.

I told myself, “If you invest the same effort and time as you did in engineering, but this time also incorporate love, interest, and natural talent, you can only be at least as successful as you are now.”

I’m thankful that I made this shift early in my life. I definitely empathize with those who choose to do work they don’t enjoy simply for the sake of earning money. Perhaps they already bear the responsibility of providing for their families. Maybe their fear is too daunting to overcome.

While I believe it’s never too late to prioritize yourself and construct a meaningful life by design, I know from my own experience that it’s not a straightforward task.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

What truly aided my journey was setting aside time to sincerely ask myself what I truly desire. Before diving into any self-reflection process, I always remind myself that I need the courage to see the truth as it is.

This involves being radically honest with myself about my life, emotions, and dreams. Understand that living life based on others’ expectations isn’t the right way.

The practice that significantly benefited me was a meditation technique called Vipassana. Unlike other methods involving chanting or visualization, this form of meditation solely focuses on self-observation.

This allowed me to confront my insecurities, my fear of losing a carefully crafted identity, my dread of judgment from others, and various other fears. However, it also provided a clear vision of my genuine dreams and aspirations, not those influenced or instilled by others. 

I previously mentioned two close friends who supported me during this journey. Having someone, or even several people, who can listen empathetically and non-judgmentally proved invaluable.

While it’s crucial to believe in ourselves first, hearing supportive words during dark moments helped me regain trust in myself and my abilities to consciously design a meaningful life.

Lastly, my firm belief that the universe is on my side was profoundly helpful. I understand that my knowledge is limited. Thus, all I can do is prepare as best as possible for the future and remain open to whatever the universe may have in store for me. The discipline of working diligently and living mindfully, thereby heightening my awareness, have been the two most vital skills in my life.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

I was hesitant to share my struggles with my parents. My past experiences taught me that my honesty could instill fear in them, so I chose to remain silent. My friends and colleagues were also oblivious to my situation because I sensed they lacked a genuine interest in my progress through life. I didn’t want my struggles to become fodder for small talk.

Generally, when I grapple with feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem, I confide only in my closest friends. They’re the ones who listen without judgment or making it about themselves. They gently ask if I’d like some input, and I appreciate that. Sometimes I welcome their advice and other times, I just need them to listen โ€“ and that’s perfectly okay.

In my darkest moments, I sought professional help and attended coaching sessions. The experience was transformative and it inspired me to become a life coach myself.

I’ve witnessed firsthand the powerful impact of creating a safe space for someone to be radically honest with themselves. It can truly make a difference in a person’s life.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

No one possesses the ultimate truth. The advice we receive from others is usually drawn from their personal experiences, but it doesn’t necessarily mean their truth will align with ours. This includes advice from our parents.

Although they usually offer guidance out of love, their narratives are unique to them and should not automatically become our narratives. We must consciously create our own stories, otherwise we risk blindly following in others’ footsteps.

Each of us possesses the power to construct our own meaningful lives that resonate with our core values. However, many of us forget this innate power and opt for the easier path: following the expectations of others. When things go awry, it’s convenient to blame them, saying “They told me to do this.” However, such a life lacks meaning and adventure. 

Finding the courage to take control of your life and accepting responsibility for your own happiness may be challenging, but I assure you, it’s worthwhile. Your life will become an adventurous journey you’ll never regret.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

  • The Power of Now from Eckhart Tolle: This book helped me realize that pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice. It helped me understand that we are not our thoughts nor our emotions and that we can always focus on the things that we can control

Where can we go to learn more about you?

You can read more about me here or find me on Instagram and LinkedIn.

๐Ÿ’ก By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. ๐Ÿ‘‡

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

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