I have a confession to make: I’m a People-Pleaser.
In itself, this isn’t a bad thing. In how it’s manifested in my life however, it has been very unhealthy.
This past week I was supposed to have lunch with a friend. That person got sick but forgot to tell me. I ended up driving to the restaurant only to learn, as I was waiting by the door, that I was on my own.
I’m telling you this lunch story because my reaction to being stood up made me more upset than actually being stood up.
When my friend and I talked, I brushed it off like it was no big deal. I think I might have even said “it’s OK” when that’s the last thing I was feeling.
I then called a very wise and dear girlfriend. As I was telling her what happened, I welled up with emotion that even for me, a naturally emotional person, seemed out of whack with the incident.
That’s when I had an epiphany that I’m a people-pleaser.
I couldn’t add salt to another person’s wound. I knew my friend felt bad. I knew the regret was sincere. And because of those things, I couldn’t allow my true feelings to be spoken because it made me feel bad to do so.
I heard somewhere that people will treat you how you train them to treat you. I had just trained this fellow human that it was OK to waste my time; when in reality it’s anything but. Time is a super valuable and precious resource and once the minute or moment is gone, you can’t get it back. You can’t “make up for it.”
I tried to make the most of my cancelled lunch date. I called another friend to see if she was available on a moment’s notice since I was “in the area”. I went to a local store I don’t often get to go to but these activities were just excuses to make the time feel less-wasted and the hurt to feel lighter.
It’s at this moment that I realized I do this all the time.
At my girlfriends advising, after our healing conversation, I’m now taking on a new challenge.
This new challenge is to ask myself in every moment “Does this feel loving?”
The loving is specifically directed at me - does it feel self-loving? If the answer is no, I don’t do, say or engage with it. If the answer is yes, I proceed.
It turns out my rescheduled “make up” lunch didn’t feel loving, so I cancelled it. Canceling it felt very loving.
This people-pleasing tendency goes deep into my childhood.
I can see the roots of it in my behavior and choices throughout my life. My parents, teachers, coaches, mentors and managers would all tell you the same: I have a very long yard-stick I use to measure my own success by and I work very hard to not disappoint anyone.
My friends would tell you I’m competitive but I’m never really competing against anyone but myself. I don’t think its possible to be a deeply competitive person if you are a people-pleaser.
It’s also why my life had to do a 180 two years ago -I had built it pleasing others and forgetting about myself.
I’m taking this opportunity to be grateful that I have such loving and spiritually connected friends who can nurse me through an emotional moment and help me with this intense and super-poignant self-discovery.
I’m grateful and thankful for the wisdom of others and for the moments in life that have opened my eyes in witness to my own behavior across almost four decades of time.
I am proud of the courage it has taken me to make it this far down my own path.
There is so much to unpack about this people-pleasing thing I could keep going for days. It’s almost like in naming it; I have found a key to my inner self. So much in my life comes back to something I compromised or gave up in the pursuit of others' happiness.
I can’t tell you how powerful this epiphany feels.
I heard last night while listening to a training program called “Unlimited Abundance” with Christie Marie Sheldon that I should only live the energy and vibrations I wish to be in the future.
My future starts with a new energy vibration: self-love.
Action: Be a witness to your own behavior when you are disappointed or feeling hurt. Look back or start today looking forward, but take and keep a collection of notes. It’s often in these most vulnerable moments that we begin to witness what we have done to contribute to the situation.
Benefit: Over time, I guarantee you’ll find a pattern emerge and with that epiphany comes a significant amount of power: the power to change it.
This week - Feel: Epiphany