For the better part of my life I've been a people-pleaser. That's not to say I'll go along with anything, or that I don't have my own values and morals that I follow. It's just to say I have spent my life feeling responsible for the happiness of the people around me. So, I do the things that I think they need me to do. I listen to them bitch and moan. I give them advice – advice that they most often don't take, so that they can continue to bitch and moan, rather than fixing their problems. And, I do this, despite the fact that my efforts to please most often leave me feeling mentally, physically and often emotionally exhausted.
Knowing that I'll feel terrible in the end, I don't know why I chose to continue being the shoulder for people to cry on or the one reliable person they can always turn to. It's just been a role that I've filled for so long that I don't know how to just stand up and say "STOP!" I don't know how to tell people that I just can't take on all of their drama and baggage. If my listening and my advice was helping, that would be one thing. But when people chose to bitch instead of take action, it leaves me feeling incredibly resentful. I resent people for not noticing that I'm going above and beyond for them. And, I resent the fact that I feel I can't ask people to go above and beyond for me.
While thinking about this this morning, I did a quick search on the Google, and this is what I found:
A people-pleaser is one who gives in order to feel valuable, who gains approval by giving to others. Warning signals include: feelings of resentment, a sense of depletion, and a fear that we mustn’t say no. We are scared to show up in any way other than as the giver.
That quote came from a post titled, "My name is Shasta. I'm a recovering people-pleaser." When I read the word recovering, something clicked for me. I had this moment where I thought, "I can recover, too. I don't have to be this person forever." I realized that although some of my resentment is definitely linked to the actions or inactions of the people around me, a lot of it is actually my own fault for feeling the need to be a people-pleaser in the first place.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I had a soul-searching kind of evening last night, and, with a push from Ian, I have decided I need to stop pleasing and doing what I believe is expected of me. I fear that if I don't take this step now, I will forever live with a mountain of weight on my shoulders and mind. So, as of today, I'm going to try to do what is best for my mind, body and soul, instead of attempting to do what is best for everyone else.
"Excuse me, sir, but can you please remove the mountain from my back?"
Are you a people-pleaser? Are you on the path to recovery?