As a life long people pleaser, my addiction to keeping others happy has been emotionally exhausting. My people pleasing addiction is not something that I can kick over night, but it’s something that in this lifetime I constantly have to be on guard and on the lookout. Some of the reasons I pleased my family, bosses/coworkers, friends and even strangers was because I hate confrontation. Somewhere along the way I picked up the belief to think that it’s easier to tell people what they want to hear rather than tell them the truth. Also, the thought that someone didn’t like me was crushing. Over the last 5 years or so, as I really took a deep look within myself, I’ve learned the harm this was causing to my relationships, the expectations people had of me and how I was living in someone else’s frame instead of being in charge of my own frame. It felt yucky and I felt like a fraud. I was prioritizing the needs of others over my own. As I took my power back, I found it very uncomfortable to break a pattern that was so ingrained deeply. I now see how taking the easy way out of pleasing others can lead me back to these old patterns if I become lazy or complacent. Especially in certain situations and around certain people. In those moments, doing the heavy work to relay the new foundation from something I’ve already built, yet in those times of discomfort, that is where the real lessons are.
I’m not telling you that I don’t care what people think of me from the ego’s standpoint, I’m telling you from my heart where love and compassion reside. I no longer want or need approval from others because their approval is solely based on their own preferences and prejudices in their life experiences and what makes them happy. This is so exhausting, especially if someone you want to be happy is never satisfied. If someone dislikes, criticizes, gossips, complains, yells or makes fun of me, I see that they are stuck with the burden of not feeling or experiencing love. When someone is experiencing or feeling true love, they wouldn’t for one second do any of those things listed above.
I understand that everyone is on their own life journey, dealing with their own crap. So why hold that against them? I have no idea what they are going through moment to moment. Or even know what kind of thoughts go through their head at any moment of time. People are hurting because they don’t know any better in that moment. Should they know better? No, not necessarily. I remember countless times when I didn’t know any better and was doing the best I could, feeling trapped and not knowing that I didn’t need to suffer in my life experiences. Can you remember those times when you didn’t know either? Just as recently as this past week I noticed that when I encountered a rude stranger, I’m not giving them a free pass to treat me unkind, instead I just simply notice that they are hurting and it needs to be off loaded somewhere. As I’ve learned how to manage my own emotions in a way that keep me in control, having the clarity to respond with compassion and not unconsciously reacting to empower others in their bad behavior has given me space to stand with power in my frame. I can truly separate myself and see anyone as someone carrying pain in their own heart or fighting a tough battle within their own environment and feeling unworthy.
This has changed the way some people see me and I may come across as uncaring because these people were used to my agreeableness. For as for the others in my life, they understand this and our bonds have brought us closer. Living from authenticity is much easier and feels so easy and freeing to me. Life is so much easier when you live in a place of compassion rather than competition and judgement. A wise friend of mine recently said, it’s better to be unpopular and live from your truth and happiness rather than trying to dumb it down to make everyone happy. I’m paraphrasing a little and this was actually advice he gave me to about running a business but this applies to everything in life.
So I want to say to those who also get caught in this cycle of people pleasing, there is hope to breaking the cycle and being aware is the first step, just be patient. If you can meet people where they are. No one can hold any kind of power over you and remember to stop making everyone more important than you. Stand into your power. If you lose people along your way, it’s because they don’t like that you no longer cater to their every need. And the ones that continue their friendship with you see a difference in your energy and have more respect for you. If you need guidance or just someone to talk with on how you plan to change your people pleasing habits, I’m here for you. You can also comment if there is an approach that has helped you that you would like to share.