Growing up as a “People Pleaser”, by adulthood I had perfected this pattern into a finely tuned way of life. People pleasing was fully ingrained in the way I thought and it drove most of my actions. It was such a powerful force in so many aspects of my life that it is hard to remember any part of my inward or outward self that wasn’t consciously or unconsciously driven by this need to please.
Let me assure you, living to please others is a heavy load to carry throughout a lifetime. This burden only seemed to grow heavier as the years passed.
Can you relate with any of the following kinds of thoughts?
• What will so and so think of the job that I did on that task at work, school, home? I hope so and so will think… (insert the need for external confirmation and validation here).
• I hope my child(ren) are… (well-behaved, polite, get good grades, succeed in…) because I’d hate for anyone to think I’m a bad parent…
• I really need to succeed in Graduate school. I want to get 4.00 like my dad did because I really want to make him proud. Are there things you are doing to gain the approval of another?
• What will so and so think if I… do this OR don’t do that? Will they be mad at me if…
Or have you ever paid close attention to a person’s reaction to something you said or did and worried about what they thought of you based on your perception of their facial expressions, body language, and the like? And then agonized over it?
Well, if you have, you really are not alone. But I can also tell you that it is absolutely 💯 percent possible to break loose of the chains of people pleasing that hold you bondage.
“Hello, my name is Christine and I am a Recovering People Pleaser.”
The first time I heard the Mark Twain quote, “ What other people think of me is none of my business.”, I literally didn’t get it. I think my brain was signaling, “Does not compute! Does not compute!” This seemed utterly impossible to me. But it got me thinking… what would it be like? To not worry about what others thought of me all the time? Hmmm….
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on one’s point of view, I had to learn from the “Crash and Burn 101” life curriculum.
I entered into a particular phase of my life in which everything that I had hoped for was coming to fruition. It was a case of, “Be careful what you wish for.” No sooner did I have everything that I wished for, only for it all to completely unravel and fall apart. There was not an aspect of my physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or professional life that did not lay in ruins. I knew the true meaning of being in the “depths of despair”. It was from this dark place, that I had to come to a point of personal reckoning. For the very first time I was able to look myself in the mirror and finally acknowledge who and what I was! And that included the good, the bad, and everything in between; the mistakes and failures, the successes and accomplishments, the strengths and weaknesses, the things I liked about myself and the things I didn’t. What began as crippling inner pain slowly turned into a discovery of self-acceptance and a budding of new life in my very soul. I was able to begin to accept my flaws without hating myself for them. I began to see my uniqueness as a child of God and slowly began to love myself.
As I continued to embrace a new journey of healing, I discovered within me an absolute willingness to do everything within my power and by the grace of God, to be a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
I found the love and support that I sorely needed and began to build my sense of self for the first time, to claim and own my worth, to choose new ways of thinking and new actions; all of which involved a huge cognitive shift AWAY from doing anything on the basis of pleasing others. Because I found the Faith that I had longed for my whole life during this time frame, I was able to determine if my choices would make God happy and if I was choosing what was right and best for me. It was a very foreign place to function from at first. I confess I was quite uncomfortable.
What started as feelings of utter defeat and feeling beat down by life, manifested in literally wishing my clothes would swallow me whole when I was in public. I despised myself that much. But as the healing of my soul continued, I began to feel empowered to live MY LIFE! Living by faith and by following MY OWN TRUE NORTH allows for a personal freedom in my heart and mind that allows my soul to soar. Can you feel the lightness that remains to this day?
So much work went into my time of healing in those early days but the foundation remains solid to this day. Every day I hope to be better than the day before. I still falter. I still fall. I still backslide into stinkin’ thinkin’. But the difference today is that I know I can pick myself up and dust myself off. There is always something to be learned from my mistakes ~ they are actually where my best learning comes from. There is ALWAYS sunshine that emerges after the storms and the rainbows are somehow even more glorious now. I see God’s fingerprints everywhere I look and gratitude fills my heart.
I remind myself quite often of Mark Twain’s quote and have made it one of my life mantras.
And I keep on the empowering path that is guided by following ONLY My True North! This is the sweet spot dear ones. Won’t you join me in following your True North?
It’s time… 🧭 🌟