Nothing depletes our energy and ultimately creates more resentment in our hearts than people pleasing. This is not to be confused with being a kind, giving, empathetic person. The difference is kind, giving people do it with confidence, from an unconditional open heart, knowing life is about a flow of energy... giving and receiving. But, if the object of their attentions is unresponsive, abusive, rude, or takes advantage, after a time, givers stop giving and take care of themselves, or direct their attention where their time and energy is wanted or better served. People pleasers just keep trying to change other peoples' minds and outcomes. People pleasers don’t stand up for themselves, tell you what they want, or need. They’re too afraid you’ll reject them and they’ll be alone, out of a job, or a social outcast. Healthy givers, do it because it enhances their lives as well. It's a by-product of self-love, wanting to give back what they are already overflowing with.... life. It doesn't come from a place of seeking love or being terrified of abandonment. People pleasers always do it with a personal agenda. They are unconscious master manipulators, martyrs with seething underlying resentment. Maybe that agenda isn’t always clear even to them, but its always there underneath the behavior.
I can say this, because I was a gold medalist at saying/doing anything to keep peace, get you to like me, love me, let me into your inner circle, accept me, spend time with me, or even stay with me. This did not enhance my life. People took advantage. I let them, trying to get them to change their mind---- I was a fun person.... I was a good woman, mom, girlfriend, friend, employee. I deserved to be treated fairly. I deserved to be respected. I deserved for my feelings to be considered. I deserved for my voice to be heard. I deserved to be compensated for my talents or hard work. I knew all this about myself. The problem was I never told them. I was too afraid of losing... There is this saying, “We teach people how to treat us.” I was Teacher of the Year.
Living like that managed to steal bits of my personality and esteem, trashing my uniqueness and certainly impeded my journey inward to discover who I really was minus someone elses definition of me. I was relatively wishy-washy about what made me tick. How could I not be? I really didn’t know because I was too involved assimilating what made you tick. A very dear friend of mine told me one time, I was one of those people that rolled out the welcome mat for others dirty feet. Really insulting way to open my eyes, but it was the beginning..... I knew it on some level too, but when you make your second home a place of fear rather than faith, it’s hard to see God created you to be treated like He treats you. On some level I knew that too. We have the internal gauge we need to navigate an honorable life, and a lot of the time, I was miserable. It felt dishonorable to the part of me that cried out, to speak up and let my light to shine too. I didn’t know how to invite/allow/keep those people in my life who could see what God saw, and lovingly move away from those that were blind to what I had to offer. I thought your time was more important, what you thought of me, and what made you tick. It seeped into all areas of my life, not just intimate relationships. Like a chameleon, I acquired the attitude/role/part you needed me to play professionally, socially and even spiritually too.
I don’t do that anymore. I’m not even sure when that changed, but it has, slowly and dramatically at the same time. This thought was triggered by a recent series of nice comments about my authenticity...from more than one person too. When something is repeated, I’ve learned it behooves me to take a look at it, even/especially the positive comments. Am I authentic now? I believe I am. I will tell you what I think, kindly. I will allow myself to get angry and tell you when you hurt my feelings... How else will you know? I will allow myself to recognize the value in my time and my talents and if you don’t see the same value in them, I will give myself permission to move on without regret or fear.
I laugh at my arrogance in my thinking that I even had that kind of power to change what you thought of me. I cry that I would even want to. I’ve learned, when we do stop the people pleasing, the risk is that we lose some relationships, friendships, and perhaps even some security. We can lose an awful lot of things. I’ve found in losing, I have won so much more. Real, reciprocal loving relationships, insights into what makes me tick, self-esteem, confidence, and an authentic bio, that I’ve written, not someone else. Maybe our security needs to come from our trust and faith in our God; that all will be well, especially if we begin to treat His creation (ourselves) with the reverence we deserve.
Jobs, lovers, family, blessings and friendships that are mutually respected and treasured will remain as new ones evolve when I celebrate authentically who I am, and please myself just as much as I am trying to please you.
Yes, I do believe my hoop jumping days are over. I am now giving from a heart that is mine and mine alone. Finding my voice, moving out of trying to fit into places I don’t, has allowed for a whole lot of people, places and opportunities that now do fit, to fill that space in my life. And, that is truly living authentically.