Remember that old saying, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself?” Maybe it was a song, or maybe the lyrics in a song. Anyway, you get the point. Well, I completely agree with that, but I would also add that you shouldn’t even try to please everyone. If you do, you’ll become exhausted, guaranteed!
How did we get into people pleasing in the first place? Does it come from a place in us that desires to be liked and accepted? Do we want people to think highly of us? Do we have a need to be needed? Check ‘yes’ to all of the above. This people pleasing thing goes way back – back to when we were kids. Think about it: We wanted to please our parents, please our teachers, please our friends. Then we grew up and wanted to please our employers, our spouses, children, more friends, committees, clients, customers, neighbors, etc. The list goes on and on! We may not always see it as “people pleasing,” instead, we simply want to be “nice,” “accommodating,” and even altruistic. We don’t want to come across as being confrontational, disagreeable, self-serving or selfish. We don’t want to risk sabotaging potential connections, relationships, or opportunities, right? So we say ‘yes’ when we really want to say ‘no,’ we second guess our own selves – we quiet that little voice inside of us that never misleads us and do the thing that we know we shouldn’t because we don’t want to be thought of as ‘unfriendly’ or ‘unavailable.’
This is all great – for the person(s) who are the recipients because they’ve gotten what is important to them. But now you’re either at home kicking yourself for agreeing to something you really didn’t want to do in the first place and trying to come up with a good excuse to get out of it, and probably feel guilty for doing so, or you do it and become resentful in the process. Either way, you lose. The energy that it takes to come up with a lie is energy that could have been better spent on doing something wonderful for yourself or someone else – something that you really wanted to do.
I’m not sure when it happened, but I’m so glad that it did. I’m talking about the freedom that now lives inside of me. I feel as though I’ve been released from a long prison sentence. The prison was called “People Pleasers” and I’d been sentenced there years ago without me even realizing it! (sidenote: I did notice, while incarcerated, that there are more women in this prison than men – something to think about, huh?) Anyway, I wasn’t actually released – I escaped! I’d finally realized that I’d had enough and I did what Tim Robbins’ character did in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption (one of my favorites) I tunneled my way out and came out on the other side, peeling my old clothes off as the rain cleansed and renewed me. I broke out of People Pleasing Prison and I’m not coming back!
I wish I could say that I don’t do anything that I don’t want to do. That would be a lie. For instance, I have to workout and exercise. I don’t like it, nor do I really want to do it, but I have to. It’s beneficial for my health and well being, so I do it and make the best of it. I really wish I didn’t have to pay taxes – I’d love to bring my gross earnings home with me, wouldn’t you? But we have to pay taxes and some of them even benefit us or our loved ones. I don’t really want to cut down on the sweets that I love, but it’s either that or buy bigger clothes, and I’d rather spend my money on something else. So yes, there are things that we all have to do.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t extend ourselves, our time, our monies and our energies to other people, places and things. Where would this world be if none of us did that? Not a world I’d want to live in, that’s for sure. But what I am saying is that I now decide more carefully and choose the people, places and things that I wish to extend myself to. And the best part of all? I’m no longer concerned with what anyone thinks of me if I’m not doing something that they want me to do. I choose to be a part of things that mean something to me – things that awaken, stir and excite my spirit and engage my heart. I choose to be in the company of people who celebrate my spirit and accomplishments and whom I genuinely want to celebrate theirs. I surround myself with people who make me laugh and nourish my soul and my wish is that I do the same for them. I now fill my emotional senses with sweet smells and beautiful flowers and toss the weeds to the side – no room here anymore. I say ‘no’ when it doesn’t feel right or when I’m just not interested. I say, ‘Let me think about it’ if I may be interested, but not yet sure and I say a resounding YES! when I’m all in. Trust me, this was no minor task and is still a work in progress. But practice makes perfect. Life passes quickly – why spend it trying to please everyone and burning yourself out in the process.
No matter how kind or acquiescence we are, there will always be someone who isn’t pleased or satisfied with us or our deeds. My time and energy are precious and valuable – so are yours – choose carefully and seriously consider escaping if you’re imprisoned – freedom awaits you!