People pleasing almost broke me
From a young age I mastered the art of people pleasing and did not know how this would become a lifelong habit and one that would almost bring me to my knees!
Making friends at school was hard for me and particularly at secondary school I found that I had friendships that were based on me making others feel better but at my own expense.
One friendship springs to mind where I was referred to as the “fat friend” and part of me knew that I was there to make that person feel good about herself. As we had been friends since we were knee high I really saw the damaging effects of this friendship until we went on holiday. We had a booked a week in Greece which should have been a fun relaxing break, but it was nothing of the sort. The week was filled with remarks and put downs and although I tried to make the most of it I was glad to get home.
One evening whilst having dinner I offended the said friend because I choose not to have an alcoholic drink with my meal but to have it after. She created such a fuss that I lost my appetite which she duly picked up on after finishing her meal by saying “it is not like me not to eat as I usually eat her under the table”! The following day she made the comment that “if I ever lost the weight she could no longer be my friend because I would be too attractive” and I was gobsmacked! We had been friends for about 20 years! I was so relieved to get home and away from the negativity and really looked at friendship for what it was and made the decision to end it.
I have spent many years being in people pleaser mode whether it was friendships, working relationships, romantic relationships or even with my own family.
My people pleasing was a major factor when it came to my money issues. I would “treat” the people around me to gifts small or large. It was not until after declaring bankruptcy. It also triggered my anxiety to a high level to the point that I could not function very well at all. I had burnt myself out. I realised I needed to change my ways as the universe was testing me.
When I looked beneath the surface this behaviour was fuelled by feelings of not being good enough, not knowing myself, a fear of letting people down or giving up on them and it was all too consuming. I have put people before me all my life. My wake-up came a several months ago when I realised I wanted to find what truly made me happy and in order to that I had to fly solo.
With a few months before my next birthday, I made one of the best decisions of my life which was to start the journey of a thousand miles back to myself.
Within this time, I have completed a course of CBT therapy and vastly reduced my anxiety and depression, working on ditching the people pleaser for good and found ways to enjoy life. I have freed up time to write, draw and found a new love of poetry and reading.
I am still very much a work in progress because the recovery process is not linear, and it takes work. There is so much I want to learn, and it is now my time to shine by living my best life.
One thing I can promise you is when you work on the relationship you have with yourself is when the real magic starts to happen. that when you take the journey of aligning with yourself is when the magic happens.
My tips on ditching the people pleaser:
- Be around people that treat you the way you treat them with kindness and love;
- Be with people who lift you up; are also honest with you;
- Always be your true self to you and to others;
- Take time for you – self-care is not selfish;
- Try a new hobby; and
- Must of all be kind to yourself, none of us have all the answers but make the most of what you do have and don’t be afraid to change direction.