problematic people pleasing

many of my issues come from being an enormous people pleaser. i don’t believe i’m alone in that behaviour.

it’s fine to take other people’s feelings and opinions into account when we’re interacting with them. the problem is one of degree.

when i start to subdue what i actually think and feel, when i start to live a life that makes me uncomfortable because i’m afraid of causing offense, when i alter who i am and how i behave, that’s when it becomes a difficulty.

that’s when it starts to trigger my depression. i start to spend a great deal of time in the past, wishing i’d done it differently, wishing i’d said what i thought, wishing i’d stood my ground.

wishing that i wasn’t so dependent on what i think people think of me.

wishing i wasn’t so afraid to be myself.

wishing i wasn’t sure that “myself” is an unacceptable commodity.

wishing i didn’t spend all my time making other people happy. wishing i spent more of my time sharing myself with my friends and family rather than always deferring to their “share time.”

it’s a problem. spending all your time wishing is wasted time. it doesn’t make things different. it doesn’t make you happy.

the solution is deceptively simple.

stop people pleasing. that’s it. it’s that easy. it’s that hard.

stop believing that your feelings, your thoughts, and your wishes don’t matter as much as other people’s.

people will still like you if you stand your ground and speak your truth.

it’s hard to believe that when your sense of self is intimately connected to making others feel good, when being the “nice” or “obliging” one is how you define yourself. challenging those behaviours feels like a threat to your soul. it feels unbearable risky.

it can be done. i’m in the process. the trick is to start small.

generally speaking, i don’t express personal preferences.

where do you want to go for dinner?

     it doesn’t matter; i’m easy with whatever.

what time did you want to meet for coffee?

            whatever works for you.

what movie would you like to see?

            what movie would you like to see?

on and on and on. it doesn’t matter what the question is. it doesn’t matter that i could have said boston pizza, two o’clock, and deadpool.

it feels like expressing my opinion will cause the person to sever the relationship and i’m unwilling to risk it. it feels like i need to please others to avoid being left alone.

part of me knows that i can challenge that belief. part of me knows i know that i’m not risking abandonment. do i really think so little of my friends?

is there anything that proves my belief that i need to be agreeable all the time to avoid being left alone?

in fact, there’s plenty of evidence to support an opposite belief; friends and family have been there for me time and again.

with that thought in mind, i’ve started to challenge my beliefs. i’m starting to people please less. i’ve been expressing my actual wishes. i’ve picked a time. i’ve suggested a venue. sometimes people agree and sometimes they don’t and i’ve discovered that either way is fine. no one is shocked that i dared to express an opinion. the magnitude of the achievement goes by unremarked upon, which is exactly as it should be.

mostly, people are okay with me speaking up.

it’s going so well, that i’m going to start trying it with my family. that, of course, is a more significant challenge. family relationships always feel a little more fraught. we’ll see how it goes since i’m about to get plenty of practice – the holiday season, after all, is gearing up and family gatherings will abound.

where will you start?

3 thoughts on “problematic people pleasing

  1. My god I relate to your experiences so much. I now have a few friends in my life that I can not only express an opinion with, I can also set boundaries with, disagree with and can say if I’ve felt hurt or upset about something they have said or done, and they can do the same with me.

    I identify myself as co-dependent, and what’s helped me is a book with a daily reading called The Language of Letting Go by Melody Bestie. It’s helped me so much.

    I am so impressed at your change of attitude, and your willingness to move forward and embrace your needs. I wish you well with the holiday period.

    Liked by 1 person

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