I am a recovering people pleaser.
Yeah…there…I said it.
But I don’t just struggle with pleasing any and everyone. The issue only arises when it’s those matters and people that carry the most weight with me.
I don’t like to “disappoint” the ones in my inner circle.
I could have easily said I don’t like to disappoint the ones I love but I am doing my best to love everyone around me but not everyone’s opinion carries weight with me…
And I don’t feel bad about that because even Jesus had an inner circle.
People pleasing is a pride issue. Ultimately, at the center of people pleasing is a prideful desire to want to be liked, loved, and/or accepted, whether its a struggle to please a select few or to fit in with the crowd and please the masses, or at least those who can get you what you want or where you want to go.
My family pretty much plans a vacation (“trip”) every year, nothing wrong with that. But this year, I did not want to go. I also did not speak up. Until tonight.
I tried to get as hype as possible about it but in reality I was filled with dread, not because I don’t love being around my family but because I feel that there are other more pressing priorities at hand (i.e. getting my life together and establishing a more steady flow of income (in short having a more stable job). Still, because my parents have helped me out (and continue to help me) so much, I felt obligated to go and to feign a happiness about the impending trip that I really wasn’t feeling. I even attempted to make myself feel better by asking my friend to come along, even when my friend agreed, it didn’t help, in fact I felt worse.
I had to come to the realization that regardless of what everyone else wanted or what everyone else thinks, within myself, I don’t want to go on this trip. I called my mother to break the news to her literally within the last hour.
Now, let me state that my parents do not try to control me using money…at least they do not do that intentionally. They are indeed great, loving parents, who despite our many disagreements are extremely supportive. Though, they are imperfect (like all of us) and though we have had our share of “moments”, I acknowledge and applaud the fact that they have always done their best with raising three children.
However, the fact remains that with them gladly helping me out when they can, a weighty sense of obligation comes upon me to do what they ask (which comes off more like telling me), when they ask me to do it (i.e. going on this vacation).
The feeling of obligation (aka The Guilt Trip) would come when I would be asked by those in my inner circle (family, friends) to do something I did not want to do because it either went against where I was (whether mentally or physically) at the moment or because it was extremely inconvenient; even so because I felt those reasons were either selfish or not good enough I would agree rather than decline.
In the past, I would give in to those guilt trips more often than not. It wouldn’t matter how uncomfortable it may be or how stretched or pressed for time I already was, I would usually agree to do something to avoid any ill feeling on the other person’s end even if it lead to headache and heartache for me.
But I have learned that living like that will burn you out. It can lead to physical breakdown (in the form of sickness) and it can also cause emotional and social problems including but not limited to bitterness, resentment and living like a hermit. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
The older I get the harder it is for me to put up with unwarranted feelings of guilt.
The only way, ONLY way to avoid guilt trips is to know your limit, know that sometimes you do have to put your sanity and emotional well being first and to speak up!
The more I practice this, the easier it becomes and the more I see that often times my perception of the other person’s response is generally really skewed. For the most part those people I “let down” do not respond in the negative way I thought they would. When we are transparent people are generally more understanding than we think they will be. This is not always the case of course, and wisdom is definitely needed. But whether the person’s response is positive or negative you need to speak up because you are important and your sanity is needed too.
Our lives are gifts from God given to us. We cannot spend all our days trying to live it according to others or to please others, ultimately we are only accountable to One. Yes! We should use our gift of life to serve others but to live according to them? No.
People pleasing is not living, it’s existing. We were given the gift of life to LIVE not to simply exist.
To sum it all up, I told my mother I didn’t want to go on the guilt trip, oops, I meant family vacation, LOL! She took it a lot better than I expected, though, I really should have spoken up sooner (Hey! I’m still learning…I said recovering remember? lol) because that would have minimized the damage. I’m sure she doesn’t understand completely but she is aware of my decision and cannot be surprised when I don’t go.
“Disappointing” people is a necessary growing pain for those recovering people pleasers like myself. Sometimes the feelings after declining and potentially disappointing someone suck but they are short lived and it is definitely necessary.
In an effort to cover up the pride at the center of people pleasing, people pleasers often convince themselves that in always doing what others want they are doing good…but the truth is this:
When each of us walks our own path, that’s when we are able to do the most good.
Walk tall. Say “No” when it’s necessary. And Remember you matter, too.
Much Love & Light to you Pilgrims,
– The Girl Who Lived