7 Things To Do If You’re Tired Of Feeling Ashamed About Your Life Choices

Don't feel bad for refusing to conform.

Man looking up, tired of feeling ashamed about life choices Getty Images | Unsplash, Cup of Couple | Canva

Decades on this jolly little planet have shown me that I’m just not very conventional. I’ve never followed the expected path, and I feel like a rat in jelly when I slide closer to conformity. I’ve always felt different, weird, and even a potential source of discomfort for many. I haven’t had a ‘proper’ job in over 15 years. I’ve spent more time living abroad than in my home country. I don’t party, have no interest in politics, prefer to be single, and want to spend the rest of my life writing books, making art, and running my off-grid homestead.


It has taken me a long time to reach a point where I feel more at ease with how I choose to live my life (and I’m still working on it). I’m not here to condone making terrible, regrettable, and reckless life decisions. But I am here to send some comfort in how you view yourself and your preferences in a society that wants us all the same…

Here are 7 things to do if you're tired of feeling ashamed about your life choices:

1. Tending to your needs and desires first is not selfish

So many of us make personal happiness impossible because we view everything through the judging eyes of our neighbors. "I’m selfish if I put myself first." Not true. If you allow your vibrance to be diminished by serving others at the expense of your joy, you’re less effective. You’re a husk. The world loses out when more of its citizens are unhappy.


RELATED: Why You Should Never Be Ashamed Of Putting Yourself First

2. You must understand what drives you and follow that

We all have different personalities and styles. What one person values highly, another person does not. And so you want to make sure you know yourself as well as possible. If you continually feel shame, it may be time to self-reflect. This means reminding yourself about what brings you to life and what angers you. It’s about identifying your deepest fears and your frequently-entertained desires.

What would you most regret having missed when on your deathbed? These are the things to focus on. And yes, sometimes, in the interest of paying the bills, we can’t always be working on our passions directly, but you are doing what needs to be done first, so you can get there. In this regard, all you do is move you towards your greatest drives.

You must navigate your life according to your interests and passions — not someone else’s. This starts with understanding yourself and using past experiences to determine what makes you uniquely you. Once you know more about yourself, you can set more authentic objectives for yourself. You can take action with less shame and a sense of pride and ownership… Because you’re doing what you are supposed to do.


3. If others criticize you, they are projecting

Tell me this — why would someone choose to criticize you if they felt entirely adequate and happy in themselves? They bring others down because they operate under a faulty life strategy that says they gain at another’s loss. When this becomes clear to you, people no longer become a source of potential stress, but rather, they become a curiosity.

4. Conformity is often a sign of a mediocre mind

Those who struggle to think for themselves often find solace in a crowd. But don’t feel bad if you struggle to connect or feel misunderstood.  You take a healthy interest in reading, learning, and developing yourself. This is often a sign of superior intelligence and something to be embraced.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein


RELATED: How To Honor Your Unique Self As A ‘Nonconformist’ While Still Fitting In

5. You must find a way to trust your instincts

Just because society screeches that this or that is ‘the right thing to do’ doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Many of us endure depression because we allow ourselves to be molded by the opinions and judgments of other people. We relinquish our power by giving it up for others to pick at, like vultures in an open field. We do this because we lack faith in our ability to perceive what’s right for us. We grew up waiting for other authority figures to touch us on the shoulder and permit us. And we lost our way. You must find the path of self-guidance again. This means listening to — and believing — your gut. You must trust your boot as you step firmly into the sand.

@melrobbins Your instincts are always right... It’s the LISTENING to those instincts and making decisions based on them that’s the hard part. Learn how to actually listen and go with your gut on the #melrobbinspodcast: “Stop Trying to 'Trust Your Gut.' Do This Instead. Works Way Better!”Available wherever you listen to podcasts! 🔗 in bio #melrobbins #changeyourlife #mindset #createabetterlife #takecontrol #trustyourgut #intuition #slowdown #podcast #podcastclips #podcastsforwomen ♬ original sound - Mel Robbins

6. People who stand to change the world often have the most doubts

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” — Robert Hughes


We feel doubt when we inch closer to upsetting the typical and expected order of things. If we’re uniquely talented or willing to invent, we invite rejection. People, for the most part, cringe at change. Being an innovator is inherently about disruption. And this can be scary. This is why we can feel doubt because we are skirting our edges. So please know that if you feel lots of doubt, it does not indicate what’s wrong with you. It merely reflects the reality of what you’re capable of — i.e. disruption. You can either be crippled by your doubt or emboldened by it.

“Go out there, poke the box, and cause a ruckus.” — Paraphrasing Seth Godin

RELATED: 5 Tiny Tips That Will Make You Stop Doubting Yourself


7. Other people do not have the power to decrease our self-worth

One of our greatest fears is tied to banishment from the tribe. It harks back to when you and I would jiggle our hips to hypnotic drum beats in nothing but a loin cloth. We didn’t want to be sent out alone into a scary forest because we might die. This fear holds less significance in the modern age. 

The other side to this fear is our human-shared false belief that other people have the power to diminish our self-worth. It’s a very real thought and a seemingly real threat. We believe this because somewhere along the way, we were told that self-esteem or self-worth was a thing. They are not — beyond being an illusory concept housed in confused minds. We have nothing of ourselves to lose. Meditating on this can bring much relief. You may lose blood to a wound, but you can’t lose a piece of what makes you you. This makes it far easier to fearlessly go out and do what works for you with your head held high.

RELATED: 6 Ways To Deal With Regret — So You Can Look Toward The Future

Alex Mathers is a writer and coach who helps you build a money-making personal brand with your knowledge and skills while staying mentally resilient.