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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Please, Please Me

I've had a rollercoaster of a six months.  I quit my well-paying job, I travelled in Europe for a month and enjoyed the presence of Bettina, I moved to Indiana to be with Andy, I started a part time job just to quit and take a better one, and I've been at that new job for just over three months now.  

Throughout that time, I tried really hard (and usually failed) not to feel bad about doing what’s best for me.  Quitting my safe job to travel and nourish my relationship with my partner was wracking me with guilt for a very long time.  How dare I be happy and choose fulfillment over safety.  Oh that voice is such a drag.

It’s not just that I feel bad about doing what’s best for me necessarily, but a lot of it is that I think a lot about the other people this affects.  For example, after quitting that part time job, I thought about the new people I'd met and what they do, how they’d ordered my business cards, introduced me to groups of people, and the work I’d already taken over from others.  I think about how their days were going to be inconvenienced because of me.  I am grateful that I’m considerate of others, but there must be a balance.  


“Do you just walk around all day thinking about other people’s feelings? How do you get anything done?” 
- Schmidt


There is still a big part of me that is also concerned about what the others will think of me, although that part of me is shrinking almost daily.  Bettina and I have talked a lot about this because we both tend to go about our days people-pleasing, usually subconsciously.

Now HOLD ON.  Please don’t take this as some sort of “I’m a martyr, poor me” talk.  I’m not a victim and neither is anyone else who is a people-pleaser.  It is a CHOICE, however, sometimes we’re not aware that it is which is why it’s really important to talk about these things and point them out in yourselves and in your close friends who also struggle.  Here is a quick rundown about the habit of people pleasing:

People-pleasing isn’t…
about you caring truly about the well-being of others.
making you a martyr.
other people’s fault.

People-pleasing is…
poor boundary setting.
about yourself, your need to be loved and accepted, your codependence (if that’s what you want to call it), or whatever else you discuss with your therapist or dog.

People-pleasing results in resentment and pain.  Even though I know this, it’s difficult to stop in the moment.  In the past, I have changed many habits that no longer served me with awareness and intention and I know this is no different, however, that does not mean it is easy.  

Awareness helps.  If I’m in the middle of icky resentment, pain, or beating myself up, I try to remember to ask myself, “Hey tired little lovely bunny, are you doing this to please others, or out of respect and consideration for others?”  I really do talk to myself like this.  The more rotten I’m feeling, the more sweetly (sometimes ridiculously so) I try to consciously speak to myself, although it’s not always easy.  And I’ve noticed that when I’m involved in a romantic relationship, I often replace this voice with a very mean one, but that's another post. 

I also have really supportive friends, like Bettina, Ashlee, and Katherine who all experience this, talk about it, and most importantly LAUGH about it.  Making fun of ourselves in a lovingly teasing manner is the best way for me to lighten it all up and put it into perspective.  



Feel free to share your people-pleasing addiction tendencies below and share any ways you help yourself through it.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post! I'm a recovering people-pleaser. I could never say "no" to the people who I should have said "no" to. I think it probably took me hitting rock bottom - when I was going through a divorce and being a single mom - to realize that boundaries are very important and I did have lots of resentment and/or guilt that went along with not negotiating boundaries better. I wish I could say that there's an easy answer, but there's not...but it's great that friends like you can talk about it and laugh about it too. I think, in my case, I'm still a people pleaser but the biggest changes I've made is in regards to whom I choose to please. I've chosen to please the people who appreciate it instead of take advantage of it...I try to find positive ways to please people so that I get joy out of that and the other person gets what they need too. So, basically, I try not to waste time on people who don't get me and instead focus on those that do...then it doesn't really matter because we're all happy. ;)

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  2. I am really bad at this, too, but I'm learning. Your insight that it's really all about you is SPOT ON and took me forever to figure out; it's not actually something the other person (the "please-ee" if you will, though that sounds slightly dirty) is doing to you.

    Other mistakes I've made:
    • Mistaking self-sacrifice for helping others. Just doing things that hurt yourself doesn't necessarily help others. Helping others helps others.
    • Assuming other peoples' reactions without getting empirical evidence. Your anecdote about how your getting a job "inconvenienced people" is a prime example. Don't assume they resent doing their job. If you have to assume anything, assume the opposite, that they're wonderful humans and they view each new bit a paperwork as a small contribution to bringing a new valued team member aboard. But at least defer the shitty stuff until you get actual data that they are being shitty. In which case, you'd dismiss their shittiness as their problem anyway, right?
    • Assuming that when people complain they want help. I do this because I was raised to value a certain stoicism (a subject for another post of my own sometime) and I know if I complain, it must be really bad and I'm secretly asking for help. But this is not true of everybody. Some people just like to complain. Or complaint is their way of dealing. Regardless, it's not your job to fix things for them. They probably just need to adjust their attitude. Even if you fix things for them, they'll find something else to be unhappy about. Let it go.

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  3. I am so grateful you have come and visited me, but I really hope you have not done it to please me... pun intended! God, this resonates so much and remindes me so much of my younger self. I have noticed in the last few months that I am getting better. It's a slow progress, like everything, but in a way I am also grateful going through it because I get to know me, the real me. And she is an amazing person! Sometimes it is just glimpses I get, but do you know what, they are enough to keep me going. I know this is the same for you... and that is why I love you!

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