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?”
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:
about you caring truly about the well-being of others.
making you a martyr.
other people’s fault.
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.