Come on you people-pleasers – you know who you are! Are you tired of being the “go to” person?
Everyone Wants To Be Liked And Accepted – Except for Tim
Are you always dodging confrontation, conflict or constantly worrying what others might think of you? Are you afraid of the “what if” scenarios you have cast yourself in? Is so, then yeah, this is a common thread that runs through the core of folks like us. I think we can all relate to this topic. Well, at least most of us with the exception of Tim. I will get to Tim shortly and why he is the outlier.
Most of my life, I’ve been a people pleaser. I’ve constantly bent over backward for the people in my life and even for the occasional stranger. It took me many years to realize I didn’t have to live that way. This is a tough topic to write about because we stand naked in our vulnerabilities which then forces us to examine our true selves.
As far back as I can remember, it was ingrained in my behavior to always be “the good girl”. That meant, never red-flagging myself and always going above and beyond expectations. Even in grammar school, I tried to always play it on the down-low to avoid beatings from those wretched nuns – unfortunately, that didn’t work out too well for me. To digress, I even dedicated a few hours on my weekends off to run an errand for that miserable canonical crew in hopes of being accepted and loved. This was what I believe to be the inception of my people-pleasing woes.
Always desiring to be liked and accepted comes with at a great cost. It’s a heavy beast to bear. I became the “go to” person for most everything. This still rings true today, but since I have become Tim, the load is much lighter.
OK, let’s get to Tim. I recently saw this cartoon, and it resonated to my core.
I have a copy of it on my desktop as a daily reminder. I like Tim. Tim is always someone I wished I were and strive daily to achieve. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about stuff – I most certainly do! I have simply decided to step away from that nagging, tugging, and pulling desire to always have to be liked and accepted. And that my friends – is truly liberating!
Once folks see that you are a people pleaser, they often take advantage of you. Not all, but most – that has been my personal experience. “They” say, people-pleasers yearn for outside validation. I believe this to be the core of this behavior. Validation – that one word is key in understanding the whole concept of people-pleasing. Gaining the approval and acceptance of others is the payoff. There is an ongoing dread of being disliked and cut from your peers whether it’s friends, family or co-workers and yes, even strangers.
I’ve also encountered in my escapades of people-pleasing the blood sucking vampires out there who will continue to drain you of all of your spiritual energy. The more you give, the more they take. As we are all aware, there are givers, and there are takers. When the takers happen upon a people-pleaser all hell breaks loose. And more we continue to please, the weaker you are perceived.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am still a pleaser in many ways but with one huge exception. I now practice relationship reciprocity. Although we would like to believe in purely altruistic acts and while I’m sure they exist – I believe on some level whether consciously or unconsciously there is a component of reciprocity to be gotten. Your marriage, your friendships, your job – all based on the premise of reciprocity. Any healthy relationship must have this component. There has to be a natural give and take flow to it.
The good news is it’s never too late to change our succorant behavior. Change is often scary, but it’s the only way out. If you continue to cast the role of people-pleaser it can often lead to depression and the burden of constantly feeling overwhelmed.
I’d also like to mention, please, by all means, continue to pay it forward with acts of love and kindness. Being a people-pleaser has little to do with spreading some good will and fairy dust around.
What I’ve done to change.
Be Like Tim: Yes, you can wake up one day and decide to be like Tim. You just don’t have to give a ….well…you know. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to accept you into their posse. Those are the hard facts. Deal with it! Once you do, you too can be just like Tim!
Learn How To Say No! And here lies the magic. It’s not easy to say no – not to your kids, your spouse, or your friends. There are times when you have to step back and think before answering. Next time you feel the urge to please, step back for a moment and think. What are motives for saying yes? What’s to be gained? Or lost? How much time are you investing and why? Now, please note, I don’t mean for the simple acts of kindness you do daily, or for your duties or responsibilities, but rather for those times when you feel that angst in the pit of your stomach tugging at your inner core telling you to say NO and you ignore it!
Feel and Express Empathy: You can still say no and let others know you are very empathetic to their request. I believe it’s always best to them know that while you can understand and relate to their need, you are not able to accommodate their request for a reason. It’s always best to provide a blanket statement as to why you must say no and stand firm on your decision. Never say things like, “I’ll think about it”, or “possibly later if some time frees up”. This will set you up for some wiggle room and they will worm their way in – trust me.
So, next time you get the urge to go above and beyond, kick yourself metaphorically in the pants and stop to think. Ask yourself the crucial questions and invest in your relationship in a healthy and fulfilling way. It’s made me much happier and allowed me to be on the receiving end of life as well.
And, of course, I have to mention that I’m not a shrink, a doctor, or a member of Mensa. I’m in my own way, trying to pay it forward too!
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