My People Pleasing Journey
I’m Lisa and I’m a recovering people pleaser. I’d love to say ‘recovered’ but the reality is, sometimes I still slip into my old people-pleasing habits.
I learned to be ‘nice’ from a very young age. And of course, being nice is a good thing. But I took it WAY too far. To me, ‘nice’ was the currency I had to pay in exchange for love.
A flawed understanding – picked up subconsciously and engrained into my core for years.
I thought that I needed to earn love, so I was a good girl. I was quiet and undemanding. The responsible big sister. The Helper. The Pleaser. The one who kept my eyes closed, my mouth shut and tolerated my boundaries being violated.
To set the scene a little more accurately, I’ll need to share that my mum has had MS for as long as I can remember. It’s an unpredictable, cruel disease which attacks her central nervous system and it’s exacerbated by stress. So, you can imagine, I didn’t want to make a fuss and cause a relapse. I wanted to protect her. So, I internalised the bad stuff that was happening, I stuffed down the emotions and vowed to cope with it myself.
My main priorities were:
- To make people happy.
- To avoid making people angry.
Surely if I achieved both of these, everything would be okay and I was guaranteed to be loved.
Spoiler alert…concentrating on everyone else’s happiness will not make you happy!
It’s a pretty childish way to view the world. But the really sad thing is, this mindset didn’t end with childhood.
I wasn’t a rebellious teen and it never occurred to me to rock the boat. I couldn’t imagine purposely displeasing anyone and I saw nothing wrong with that. I mean, being nice was important. So, the nicer I was, the better, right?
I grew up to be an overly nice adult. *shudder* Think about how it feels when you meet an overly nice adult. Saccharine sweetness, an over-eagerness to sacrifice their own needs. It’s bloody creepy!