Bring it to Barb


Dear Barb,
I tend to conform to others’ ideas and opinions just to keep the peace or not cause a confrontation. But when I do that, I am not being true to myself. This happens with siblings and friends that I care about who I fear would judge me if I were completely honest about certain things. Is there a secret to releasing that stifling feeling?

Stifled by Fear

Dear Stifled,
Try to remember that the only person who is in control of you is and always should be you!

If you weren’tafraid, what would you most want to say? Use this question to get in touch with your authentic reaction to the situation when it is upon you. Sometimes just taking a step back from the situation, taking a deep breath and looking inward to reflect is all it would take. In a five-second time period, you can make a determination of your reaction.

The ideal fix: Physically remove yourself from the situations and people who disrupt your internal energy. Politely excusing yourself or simply not replying to that triggering text can go a long way. The secret: Let things go!

In many instances, we can’t up and walk away from a boss or toxic sibling, or when it is unnecessary to indulge a conversation. So, in that case, tolerance is required. Try creating a space in your head to push thoughts to other things and morph your head into another thought of constructive importance in your life that really matters. (No one will know you are creating your grocery-shopping list in your head).

Being authentic isn’t always an easy road – we are afraid of what the person will think of us, but in the end, remaining true to yourself will always feel more satisfying than conforming. Who is in control of your thoughts? Just because you think it doesn’t mean you must say it. If it is something that really matters, say it with confidence and agree to disagree and move on. Be you – be authentic!

Ann Landers said, “At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.”

Barb Rock is a mental health counselor and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at


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