Have you ever felt like you're compromising something you believe in just to avoid conflict, a misunderstood look, or plain rejection? Have you ever thought it was the right choice until you were alone and realized that what you did, wasn't what you wanted at all? I think this is a fairly common occurrence, if you're like me it happens more than you'd like.
"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do." – Eleanor Roosevelt
I believe there is a fine line between a good person and a pushover. Sometimes, it can feel like a trap. Where do you go? If you're a sensitive person, it can be really hard to say no, to advocate for yourself, to risk making someone angry. Personally, I've spent much of my life on the side of people pleasing. in hindsight, it has caused me a lot of second guesses. I did things that people suggested and listened to their opinion over my own. Most of the time I did it without seeing how destructive it can actually be. I see now that I never really knew what I wanted and my tendency to look to others only made that worse. I knew how to make other people happy, even if it was at the expense of myself, but as I enter life as a young adult it has become harder to figure myself out. Social connections have always been important to me, but I have no interest in living my life to prioritize others and ignore myself. I've done it for long enough.
Caught up in being liked, accepted, and wanted is an instinct in today's culture and social media sure doesn't help. I can recall so many times, this gut feeling telling me to stick up for what I needed, to walk away and support myself instead of ending in a compromise once again. What I needed was to love myself enough to follow through, but fear always got in the way. Disappointing people felt too risky. I didn't care if it meant shutting up some voices in my head. I thought it was worth it - sometimes I still do.
As I have grown in the past few years, I understand a little more about personal boundaries. I know what makes me feel good and what feels fake, but advocating for them is a different story. Habits die hard and this one, people pleasing, seems to stem from sturdy roots. It's in my blood no doubt. And, when you do it for long enough, you get used to the way it feels. But that doesn't mean you should keep doing it.
How could it not be when you spend so much time strengthening the correlation. Often, I daydream what it would be like to do exactly what I wanted. I wonder who would stick around if I did.
Imagine it, the person you would try to be if your fear of rejection wasn't riding on the decisions you made. Think about what you would offer or do, what type of people would appreciate you for exactly who you are, and how freeing it would be to let go of the idea that how other people feel is all up to you. Because honestly, it's not. No matter how hard you try someone will always want more, expect more, and take more than your cut out to give.
"Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner." – Lao Tzu
As scary as it is, I want to find out. I want to take the risk, worrying about myself first. I think a lot of people search for the courage to do just that.
At my core I know I'm a good person, I try hard and I love hard. I'm loyal. If you're my friend I would do just about anything for you. That's why I don't get it. If I am all these things why am I so afraid? I wish I could just trust that it was enough. But that's exactly the problem, I've always craved "enoughness" and I've never been given the assurance that I am. Nor have I found it within myself. But, living this way is exhausting. It can feel like your caged in like no one cares about how you feel as long as you care about them. it's a pretty lonely characteristic. People pleasing is a disservice to yourself in many ways.
First off, you distance yourself from your own goals and values as they get more and more wrapped up with others. Second, you can actually start to resent the people that you are trying to obey. No good relationship is one-sided and people pleasers often feel like they put way more into something than another person. And they are. Not to mention, people get used to your behavior and they will take advantage of it. Trust me. Lastly, you will lose a lot of precious time being disappointed that your efforts don't seem to add up. You can never make everyone happy and devoting yourself to it is a waste of energy.
"When you say "yes" to others, make sure you aren't saying "no" to yourself." - Paulo Coehlo
Be a good person, be present with the people in your life, be compassionate and be trustworthy. Be the best friend you can be. But, do not let it interfere with your own needs and your own self-respect. Don't stay stuck worrying about everyone else. That's when it has gone too far. That is the line you do not need to cross.