Hitting the Brakes as a Chronic People Pleaser


I lied.

I lied to other people, and I even lied to myself. I said something that I thought would make everyone else happy to hear, rather than really examining the truth.

My lie was that I said I had realized that the reason I thought I needed to go through a period of such real anxiety was so I could learn to be more compassionate to others. Sounds nice, right? Like poetic realization. I’m sorry, ( not supposed to say that as a recovering people pleaser,) but that’s not what it was.

I needed to go through that period of anxiety and what seemed like real despair, because I had gotten myself to a point where I had lost myself and my personality, and I wasn’t living my life to the fullest. Know why? Because I based my every move on how I thought it would make others feel. ( Ironic, right?)

Obviously, by my lead, I’m not magically changed because I realized the problem, sorry.

When I explain this, I’m going to do my best to say it the way that I actually identify with. The truth is that we all want to be that badass woman, dressed to the nines in a pair of ridiculous sunglasses declaring that we’d “rather be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea”. But, I am just so so so not that person. There are great things about me, even some badass-y things about me. But, I will not ever hear another human truthfully utter a statement likening me to a shot of whisky.

I say all this to express that I am someone who will always care in some way what other people think. All of the memes, middle fingers, and sassy poses in the world aren’t going to remove that, it’s part of who I am.

For me, it’s not necessarily a self-confidence thing, I probably have too much of that most days. For me, it is a deep desire to make the people around me happy.

It didn’t start as a way to hide my true thoughts and feelings, but because I tried so hard to make everyone else happy that I became sort of a chameleon. In every situation I would just morph into whatever was needed to keep the peace, or raise someone else’s self-esteem, or fix a tough situation- no matter what I, personally, wanted. This put me into a place where I spent so much time and effort focusing on what I could do to make everyone else’s lives “perfect” and I couldn’t even tell you what I wanted in mine.

If you are like this, this is something that I need to tell you, but it’s o.k. if it doesn’t resonate with you the first time. We are not actually making their lives better, by sacrificing our own. I know you think, what the big deal about being accommodating? Why is it such a problem that I want to make my employer feel like they can give me any task, and i will take care of it? Does it really matter that I held back what I thought to spare my friends’ feelings?

The truth is, yes, it does matter. Because I can bet that you didn’t just agree with one of those statements, all of them resonated with you on some level. By always conceding, you are allowing yourself to be covered up by the wants/needs of others and you can’t fix it for them by just giving them what they want. If you need proof, think of a friend who has never had their ideas challenged or someone you know that just got everything they wanted without hesitation.

For those who look for Bible verses on the subject:

Luke 6:26 sounds the alarm: “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them.”

As someone who believes that everything happens for a reason, and that God really means well for all of his people, I know that the crippling anxiety I went through was for my betterment. That I would have spent the rest of my life living for what everyone else wanted rather than being myself and loving people in my own way. I would have totally missed out on some great things that I know are in store for me.

I want you to know that yes, you can go to your partner’s favorite restaurant, yes, your boss can know that if there is a task that needs to be completed, you’re the man or woman for the job and yes you should be gentle with your friends and try to take care of their feelings, but you really can’t spend all of your time and energy devoted to what you think everyone else wants, because it will not fulfill either one of you.

Does making yourself appear ugly, make someone else more attractive?

I hope you know that you are all women and men dressed to the nines in awesome sunglasses, no matter what drink you are, and how many people like the taste of it.

It is possible to be kind to others without being what you think everyone wants.


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