People Pleasers notice things. They quickly recognize when someone approves of them…or disapproves. Then we…I mean, they…ok, it’s ME, I’m the People Pleaser…immediately make the connection between what we did or said with why the other person liked or didn’t like us. Immediately.
People Pleasers think being liked, loved, accepted, praised, or even disliked, hated, judged, or rejected, are all CONDITIONAL ON US.
Conditional. On us. I have to let that sink in.
We don’t think you like us, because maybe you’re genuine. We think you like us, because we earned it somehow, and we will keep trying to figure out that thing that makes you like us and repeat it over and over again. We don’t think you dislike us because maybe you’re just plain wrong. We think you dislike us, because we failed you somehow, and we will keep trying to figure out that thing that makes you dislike us and try to fix ourselves since it’s us that must be broken.
Wrong. This is why I am a RECOVERING People Pleaser. I am learning to look inside a person who claims to like me to ensure they are good-hearted, well-intentioned, lovely human beings who might be good friend material. I am learning to give less damns about people who come at me, question my values, or try to point out how allegedly fell short. Yet I still get some ridiculous gratification from being patted on the head sometimes, and I still hold myself responsible for other folks’ happiness. Uuuggghhh. Is there a 12-step program for this?
I say all that to say…I have more on the subject…but let’s start here. Know that being a People Pleaser IS NOT COOL. I don’t want to set my kids up to be People Pleasers, and I hate when people brag to me that theirs are. I hear it often. Yes, kids who aim to please are easier for sure, but when we praise them and love them for going along with the program and falling right into line like we want them, we reinforce that “conditional” thing.
I want to be done with People Pleasing once and for all, but I am not sure I ever will. I want to think someone likes me for me and not because they want something I can give. I want my split-second response to an admonition to be a big “EFF OFF” inside my head instead of first blaming myself. I swear, I’m repeating all of this in my head constantly – “My worth is not dependent on my works, how I live according to you, what I can do for you, or how well you think I do it.” – while I smile and listen.
My sweetest friend reminded me this morning that my People Pleasing tendencies made me as successful as it often makes me miserable and that I should appreciate the balance I am working to achieve between the two. She is wise. It has been and is part of my journey as I have worked to achieve my goals and now as I work toward growth and inner peace. Sounds all Transcendentalist, but it’s what I want. I want to find that balance and maybe actually tip the scale in favor of living for ME, feeling confident about my own decisions, displaying extraordinary fortitude, and not always trying to please someone else. I don’t want the conditional. I want peace in my heart.
So that’s Part 1. Part 2?
Well…I got a tattoo.