On Being A Pleaser: You don’t have to keep acting as if life is imposed on you
Posted Jan 15 2014 6:48pm
Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we’re grown-ups who are allowed to make decisions and know what we do and don’t like. We’re allowed to say no, we’re allowed to have boundaries and standards, and we’re allowed to be ourselves and live our own lives. This is often forgotten because we get caught up in serving others and question the validity of our own opinions, feelings, needs, expectations and desires. We’d rather sideline ourselves completely than run the risk of offending somebody by saying no or just being ourselves.
There’s often an underlying belief that it’s ‘bad’ and ‘selfish’ not to jump to other people’s beats, forgetting of course that we can hardly be ourselves never mind be remotely happy if we’re devoted to the unnecessary task of being all things to all people.
Especially when we’re a People Pleaser who habitually feels compelled to comply with the needs, expectations, wants (or even demands), perceived feelings and opinions of others in order not to fall out of favour, we’re inclined to live as if life is imposed upon us. We’re regularly plagued with guilt and a misguided sense of obligation and we get swept up in other people’s tides and then washed back up into our existence feeling disillusioned, disconnected from ourselves, and taken advantage of or even abused.
The thing is, when we’re a child, we have to live by the rules of the house where we’re raised or the family unit – I’m sure I’m not the only person who was habitually reminded that as long as I’m living under their roof that I had to abide by the rules and do as I’m told and yada yada yada – and while we hopefully gain more autonomy in our teens (unless like me you were habitually reminded that until you had your own place and were paying your own bills that you did as you were told or else), until we get to adulthood, life is imposed upon us to a great degree until we take over the business of ‘raising’ ourselves (an ongoing process) and proceeding with our journey.
As a grown-up, it’s critical to recognise that we are in fact a grown-up and that we’re allowed to make choices and live our lives in a way that honours our values, not the egos or values of somebody else who we’re trying to appease and who has their own life to lead.
Some of us are operating on a default setting of ‘They asked so I must find a way to comply otherwise I’ll be rejected or experience conflict/criticism/disappointment’. When we operate with this thought process, we end up feeling that life is imposed upon us because we act and think like it is.
I feel obligated hence there must be an obligation.
I feel afraid so there must be a threat hence I’m required to be compliant.
It’s a slippery slope because when we feel, think, and act this way, we end up pumping people up as a natural extension and stressing ourselves out even when a person is a veritable stranger and/or we know what we do or don’t want to be/do but are too afraid to honour it. The more we comply, is the more disappointed and sidelined we feel, is the more we feel like we’re not getting a say in our own lives, even though we won’t give us a say.
When we feel perplexed, stressed and are contemplating (or already are) complying with what somebody is doing or asking of us even though it may violate our own boundaries and values, it’s round about that time that we need to stop acting as if what they want or expect and our compliance is a foregone conclusion. It’s not. We are grown-ups!
The funny thing is that once we acknowledge when and where we feel imposed upon, this is feedback telling us where we need to step up for ourselves and be an active participant in whatever choice we’re making instead of being passive and running the risk of having people make choices for us in our absence, silence, or compliance.