Who Are You a Prisoner To?

Care about people’s approval

and you will be their prisoner.

Verse 9 from the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

I love this line! Dr Wayne Dyer has another way of saying this – “To be independent of the good opinion of others.”

I want you to think about a situation in your life where someone else’s opinion mattered a lot to you, I mean really a lot. I want you to recall the conversations you may have had with this person. During these conversations were you willing to express your own beliefs fully and completely? Were you willing to openly disagree with what this other person was saying? Were you so afraid of what they might think of you that you kept quiet and just listened? When you didn’t grasp something they were speaking about, were you willing to ask questions? Were you willing to ask for clarification? What did it feel like? How do you feel when you are in one of those conversations?

When you are in a place where the approval of others matters to you, then, in all likelihood, you are not expressing who and what you are fully and completely. You are allowing that person’s possible reactions to guide how you act and what you may or may not say. Their approval matters more to you than your own freedom of thought and word. You are a prisoner to what you believe they will think of you. You will judge your reactions from their reactions. You will change your likes and dislikes to better fit into their idea of what is good and bad. You will become what you believe they want you to be instead of what you truly are.

Compare that to a genuine discussion between you and someone whose ideas and opinions you value and who you don’t care whether they approve of you or your idea. How do you feel when you are discussing some subject? What is it like when the conversation is a give and take of ideas and beliefs? Compare the conversation where you were seeking the approval of another with the conversation where you valued their ideas but did not need their approval. Which gets more accomplished? Which solves day to day challenges more? Which creates more respect and motivation? Wanting to be liked by another is not a bad thing. It is only when you allow your desire for their approval to overshadow your beliefs and ideas that you become their prisoner. Be aware if you are alternating your thinking because you believe something is really true or because you want to fit in, be liked and gain approval from that other person. Are you their prisoner?

In love and light



  1. This is an excellent post, Celina! I love it. So true! I think we also respect people more when they give us their true opinion instead of just agreeing with everything. So even if you respect someone a great deal, it is important to be brave and disagree or state a different viewpoint in the conversation. It makes things much more spicy!

    • Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Most people (after they get emotional part of the argument) are glad that people trust them enough to disagree. The challenge is most people are attempting to convert you to their point of view in an argument and are really not listening to anything you say. That works both ways by the way. 🙂

      • Yes, I think that is why people tend to agree instead of disagree. They don’t want to face that wall. I think what a lot of this comes down to is trust. You need to trust yourself (your beliefs and their validity) and you need to trust the person that you are debating with.

      • Trust is definitely a big one. The willingness to let go when you realize that you can’t change someone else’s thinking. Many can’t let go and do the “agree to disagree” thing.
        I also think the belief of “right” and “wrong” come into play here. If I agree that your idea is “right” then my idea must be “wrong” and I certainly don’t want to be wrong.
        If we can let go of the polarity and realize bot things can be “right” we might have more people listening to one another.

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