People Pleasing Pompousness – Stop That!

by Dian Reid· Follow Dian on

There’s something very addictive about people pleasing. It’s a thought pattern and a habit that feels really, really good until it becomes desperate.

~ Anne Hathaway

Fitting in is a terrible way to live life. Stop that.

I’ve been a people pleaser all my life. It started with having an alcoholic mother who was sometimes as rational as a tired-two-year-old, so I tried to make sense of what she wanted of me and learned how to make adjustments on the fly when it changed at random. I simply honed my people pleasing skills and carried them into every other relationship I had through my late teens.

Everything I did, I did because someone else either wanted it done or thought it would be a good idea to do. I thought of myself as a go-with-the-flow kinda girl until I realized I was more of a don’t-ask-me-I-have-no-idea-what-I-want kinda girl. I knew I wanted to take more control over the decisions I made in my life, but realized didn’t know how to actually make decisions on my own.

All my life I’d been asking others what they wanted to eat, to see, and to do, then going with what everyone else wanted. Ask others what they think, figure out the majority, then let it rule. I either hadn’t stopped to think about what I wanted to eat, see, or do, or when I had thought about it, it seemed too much of a bother to say out loud—what if no one else wants what I want? I didn’t want to be the odd one out, so I did my best to fit in.

Except that fitting in is a terrible way to live life. It confines you to all sorts of boundaries that you have no control over. Boundaries that are illusionary and constantly change with no warning. Boundaries with blurred lines that feel never-ending and life constricting.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.

~ Brene Brown

Ah, the disappointment of others. This is what we fear, right? It’s what I fear, for sure.

But maybe I ought to fear not loving myself enough, instead. Maybe I need to put loving myself on my to-do list more often. And set boundaries with clear lines around that self-love. Maybe that’s how to make decisions.

This way, if I have to risk disappointing others by honoring those boundaries, at least I can feel good about loving myself.

This holds true when setting boundaries with myself, as well. Boundaries like schedules, and meal and exercise plans. Because then the people I’m trying to please are the gremlins in my head.

“Oh, just go to the event, so what if you’re over budget for the month and haven’t meditated in 2 weeks!”

“You should be eating chicken and veggies, not that In-n-Out Burger, I don’t care if you DID just work out!”

“Your training schedule has five miles today, tell your sore legs and feet to suck it up!” 

~ All The Gremlins In My Head

And there’s just no pleasing the gremlins in our heads. They’re as irrational as a whole roomful of tired two-year-olds. Best to stick to the boundaries of loving myself.

Because sometimes it’s better to stay home and meditate than be around a large group of people, even if they’re great people. Loving my introvert self.

Sometimes it’s okay to indulge in a cheeseburger because really I want one (and feel like I’ve earned it). Loving my working-hard self.

Sometimes it’s best to honor and love my body rather than numbers on a page. Loving my healthy-body self.

Because ultimately …

 

There just isn’t any pleasing some people.
The trick is to stop trying.

~ Robert Mitchum

This goes for the gremlins inside your head as well as the people outside your head. 

© 2014, Authentic Realities. All rights reserved.

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  • lemead

    Oh, this is so true. I’m a pleaser too, and in fact wrote a whole 300 page book about the peril that befalls those of us who lived life guided by external validation when suddenly there is no obvious next thing to shoot for. Of course the need to please who close to us continues no matter what the world’s situation regarding gold rings. What’s scary to me lately is watching this behavior in my 11 year old daughter. I’ll ask her what she wants and her response is often “well what do you want?” and that terrifies me.

    • http://authenticrealities.com/ Dian Reid, CPCC

      How wonderful that you get to offer course correction on your wonderful, growing daughter’s line of thinking! Some (maybe many) parents don’t understand how terrified they should be of that question from their child. However you address it with her, I know it will be with love and care.

      My mother died when I was 16, so we didn’t get much of a chance to have conversations around what I wanted (it was almost always about what she wanted). But my grandmother (red-headed firecracker that she was) always insisted I state what I want. When I would try to hide behind what she wanted, she’d say something like, “Goddammit, Dian, don’t follow in my footsteps, pave your own way!” Maybe a little brash, but that was her way. And maybe I needed some blunt guidance after so many years of misdirection.

      There’s such a fine line between pleasing others and pleasing ourselves sometimes, though, and that’s the tricky part to navigate for me.

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