(For those of you that are wondering how in the world I thought of that title, just listen to the above song. Its namesake may not be much of a people pleaser, but hey…it worked. 🙂 )
Some of you who visited my blog about a week ago may have noticed that I posted an article about how I was relaunching The Mind of B. Not only was I relaunching it; I was also going to be posting a whopping new blog post on the site each day for 7 days straight! Nice goal, huh?
Yeah, I thought so, too.
For those of you who visited my blog a few days after that…you may have noticed that post is gone now. And it won’t be coming back.
Why, you ask? Understandable question.
My answer? That crud was hard.
But it wasn’t just hard. It was a goal that was set for the wrong reasons.
It was my sister and her son who finally made a very notable comment three days into my struggle to complete my third blog article. “Wow. You are working really hard on your vacation.”
Huh. “Working hard.”
On my vacation.
The first, and so far only vacation I’ve had all year.
Writing the blog posts were draining me. Thinking of something new and profound each day was taking hours–hours that I was supposed to be lying around doing nothing, playing video games, doing nothing, hanging with my family, doing nothing, and totally vegging out on Steven Universe marathons (spiffy and shockingly profound show, by the way). And I was doing that!
So, when my family made that poignant comment, I asked myself: why am I working so hard on my vacation?
The generic answer my mind came up with: “Because of my readers! The ones and ones of readers who have stuck with me all these years!”
Then the cool, calm, badass reality part of my brain peered down over her ultra awesome shades and said, “What readers?”
And the silly part of my brain cried, “Why, the readers that…don’t know who I am and…didn’t ask me to post all these articles and…will flock to me…once they know…I’m posting…again.”
CCBR pushed her shades back up her face. “Uh huh. Welcome back to the people pleaser zone.”
Hello. I’m a People Pleaser.
Before I go too far into this post, let me define what a people pleaser is.
According to Psychology Today:
A People Pleaser is one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say “no.” You can always count on them for a favor. In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people. They get their work done, help others with their work, make all the plans, and are always there for family members and friends.
Personally, I think they started off too nicely.
A people pleaser is not someone who will occasionally go out of their way to help someone. A people pleaser is someone who does everything for everyone all the time.
Maybe they do it to make everyone feel better. Or maybe they do it because they think they can do it better, and won’t the person be grateful for the superior results. Or, they do it because “it has to get done because no one else can/will do it.” Or, the person they’re trying to please will be impressed. Or maybe even like them!
A people pleaser is not only limited to tasks. She can also be in a bad relationship, stuck in a poorly fitting job, or even hanging out with the wrong crowd, all because she doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. (Whose feelings? Who knows! But someone’s feelings…somewhere.)
Many people pleasers don’t even notice they’re in that pit. After all, it wasn’t until I was checking my to-do list this morning did I realize that almost everything could be summed up with:
“Oh, I have to do [insert task/activity] for [so-and-so].”
Signs You’re a People Pleaser-aholic
There are many common signs to tell whether you are a people pleaser. Here are a few of my own:
- You’ve started to resent the very people you’re trying to please.
- You’re finding less time and energy to devote to things you love.
- Considering stopping the people pleasing action fills you with a burst of hope and relief.
- BUT, you also find yourself thinking, “What will so-and-so think if I stop/quit?”
- You’re tired a lot.
- You’re crying a lot.
- You’re sick a lot.
- You have less money than you thought you did–because you gave some of it to someone you didn’t think could manage without it. You know–like a teenager who lives under your roof and isn’t paying rent.
- You become frustrated when you never get recognition for any of your hard work–even just the tiniest whisper of “Thanks.”
Why Would Someone Become a People Pleaser?
No one strives to become a people pleaser. As Psychology Today also mentioned, wanting to please people often has a deeper-lying issue than simply wanting to help.
I’ve struggled from identity issues and my self-worth since I was a child. I come from a very talented, creative family and often felt like my skills weren’t nearly enough to compete for…well…being noticed. My logic was, “No one notices me being me. But if I do things for people, they’ll have to acknowledge me.”
Children think very linearly. If there is no one around who knows the thought process that child has developed, the child may not know whether what they’re thinking is bad, or harmful, or wrong. As an adult, I wanted to learn to truly love myself. I was shattered to find the flaws in my childhood logic.
It’s a tough realization to have at any age. It’s an even tougher habit to break.
Why is it Hard to Stop Being a People Pleaser?
Last night, I touched down onto my good ol’ ATL stomping grounds after a week and a half of leaving it all behind. As I waited for the bus at the MARTA station, I made a mental list of all the things I had to do before the weekend was out. Some of them made me excited. Others filled me with dread and a high level of annoyance. A couple made me tear up.
Guess which category the last two fell in?
And yet, I was still going to prioritize those over the tasks I was doing for myself.
Now, with a full night’s sleep and my head in rollers as I prep to see Hamilton this evening, I’m reviewing the people pleasing list that I’ve inadvertently stacked up over the last several months. I’m making a candid decision about each item.
As for this blog–I still want to keep it going for now. But I think I’ll reduce the frequency to once a week for now. That is much, much more doable.
Despite my persisting fallacies, there is one thing I’ve learned through years of meditation and assessments:
If you’re doing something or are in a situation that is making you feel miserable more often than not, you need to cut that crap out of your life immediately. No excuses, no exceptions.
In other words: stop.