On any given day, you can overhear people offer negative information about themselves in an effort to assuage the person they’re talking to. For instance, Bob is tardy for a team meeting at work. His co-worker, Tanya, tells him not to worry about it. She arrived late herself, because she forgot a report on her desk.

Tanya could have simply told Bob not to worry about being late. In this situation and billions of others, people offer up something negative about themselves to make someone else feel better. Why?

Research has shown that disclosing a minor weakness of yours (that you are disorganized, for example) makes people feel comfortable around you, because they see you as “more human.”

In essence, this means we are more human because we are weak and we’re willing to share that information. The sense behind that idea is absolutely nonexistent. Other animals do not bond in this fashion, countries do not form unions with weak allies and businesses do not partner with subpar companies nor hire second-rate employees.

This is one reason many people remain stuck in a program or a reality that is not working for them.

Countless individuals linger in less-than-ideal circumstances because they fear rejection by family and peers. As a species, we crave approval and support of others, and the slightest disapproval will lead us to throw away our dreams in search of something “safer” or more “normal.”

This mentality keeps us stuck as individuals and as a society. An even more dismal fact is that many people offer disapproval because they did not seize their own dreams and they subconsciously don’t want other people to succeed either.

Where did we learn this ridiculous pattern? And why do we continue to follow it?

Leonard Orr, who developed Rebirthing Breathwork, named this concept “Parental Disapproval Syndrome.” This syndrome is defined as parents who unconsciously betray their children’s love and trust by disapproving of them and withholding love in order to control them. The syndrome can extend beyond parents, however. It can encompass all authority figures — God, the government, the Internal Revenue Service, law enforcement, the judiciary system, teachers and religious figures — many of whom wear some type of uniform or costume and are placed in a real or assumed position “above” us.

Ultimately, Parental Disapproval can include everyone and everything in our reality. Peers, friends, siblings, neighbors, children and relatives can all offer or withhold their support of others. If your core negative belief is “People disapprove of me,” “I am unworthy” or any similar message, you are likely to repel most people and things from you.

We stay locked in our comfort zones and societal norms because we learn to do what is acceptable by our peers. We have a fear of disapproval, of being different, of setting our own guidelines and honoring our truest passions. We fear listening to our deepest selves and instead override our intuition. These fears have been programmed in us and they are bottomless.

It’s time to break out of these societal controls.

It is not our problem what other people think of us. Therefore, we can release their thoughts and their judgments. This allows us to think and move on our own accord from depth and certainty.

Ask yourself what things you would add to your life if there were no social consequences whatsoever. No one would judge you, stare at you, question you or reprimand you.

Maybe you would quit your job and start your own business. Maybe you would engage more strangers in conversation. Perhaps you’d go on more adventures, take more risks and move beyond uniformity.

Perhaps you’d follow your insight and passion rather than your society.

What would you like to do that you otherwise wouldn’t?

Think of the craziest thing you would love to do, without overstepping other people’s boundaries. Envision yourself doing it. See the smile on your face that fulfills the depth of your being. Then go do it.

In most cases, breaking free from your comfort zone will shake other people loose from their rigid constructs.

Continually ask yourself what it is you want to be doing. Take necessary action to achieve your dreams without regard of other people’s approval or support.

Never attempt to elevate someone else by downplaying yourself. If that means you don’t make people feel comfortable around you, fine. It does not benefit you or the world to lower yourself in order to put someone else at ease. Gain power from remaining silent instead of retelling your stories that don’t show you in the best light. Feel the freedom in that release. Gain strength from following your inner voice — moving from depth and certainty.

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