Pleasing others brings a lot of anxiety to person’s life and impacts a person’s life significantly. I know because I have been there – sometimes, I am still there. Trying to please others forces one to sacrifice their own happiness.
I am not sure when I started basing my life’s choices around what I perceived others wanted from me but it is safe to say; I did it for too long. As a result, people took advantage of me and I let them. I let them think it was okay to place heavy burdens on me, to take care of everyone but not myself, to consider their happiness over mine or to worry about how my choices affected them. I made choices based on what others (especially family) would approve of and in the end, I suffered more than anyone else.
I let people take advantage of me because they always did. I let them treat me badly because they always did. I let them place heavy responsibilities on me because they always did. I made decisions in my life based on how it affected them because I always did.
I apologized for every thing; even when I knew it damn well wasn’t my fault. I did it to avoid disagreement or to make others happy. Or maybe, I thought my disagreement wasn’t important. I swallowed my pride for too many reasons and let others be right even if they were hurting me. Sometimes, I let people hurt me and then blame me even it clearly wasn’t my fault. I never said “no,” because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
I held on to my own mistakes and I analyzed them over and over thinking about what I could have done differently or what other options there were. I allowed myself to get hurt so others wouldn’t. I was made to feel selfish when I tried to do or think about what was best for me. I held on to relationships that weren’t fulfilling my life – again, in the name of pleasing others. I needed approval and I didn’t always feel like I was enough – for others, for God, and even myself.
While I was always there for everyone, I was bearing my burdens alone. The people whose feelings I was concerned with or who I continually was there for were not there for me. I stood alone and I continue to. Mostly because I didn’t trust them because of how often/much they hurt me and how they took full advantage of me. Anytime they hurt me, they placed the blame on me so hence, you can see how I became a people pleaser – for so long and to my detriment.
You see a pattern here?
The one person in my life who I knew I could rely on no matter what is gone. I miss my mom in a way that words cannot express. But I put up with so much from so many people because of my love for her. But she is gone and I can’t be the person I used to be or the person I thought she expected me to be. I can’t. I refuse. But for her, I forgive, but I am not forgetting or allowing myself to get hurt ever again.
It has taken a lot of soul searching and a whole lot of tears over the past year, and counseling over the past few years. But I am learning it is okay to make myself happy, that I matter too, and it is okay to not care what others think of me or my choices, and that I can think of myself and not base my decisions on how it affect other people.
I used to think that getting away from people pleasing meant simply doing my own thing. And I have done that – whatever I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it, and with no regard for how it affects others (except the people that actually matter). But there is more to it than that.
The people pleasing habit doesn’t just disappear. It nags at you. But you have learn to fight the feelings. And trying to fight it makes you angry – at the world, at loved ones, at the very people who you tried to please and at yourself for allowing this and putting your needs on hold.
It has taken a lot of work and a lot of distance from people who don’t understand the burden they placed on me for so long to be okay with not making everyone happy and seek out my own happiness. And they have hurt me. They just don’t get it or even see that. They blame me and I accept that because I cannot control how anyone feels. But I can’t continue to sacrifice myself in the name of acceptance.
I am learning to trust in myself, my faith, and in the Almighty as I learn to face my life on my own terms and that involves keeping my distance from certain people – people who for someone reason are yet to figure out, I need to lead a present and perhaps long journey on my own. And I don’t know for how long. It is for however long it takes.
I am taking responsibility for what is mine, what I deserve and what makes me truly happy. And for the first time in a long time, I am happy and I won’t apologize for that. It takes a lot of courage to stop thinking we have to fix everyone else’s issues and prioritize ourselves. And that is not selfishness. It is strength.
I am learning to love myself – something I have was not able to do in the past. I am learning to feel enough – for myself, for God and the people that truly matter – my kids.
Once upon a time, I didn’t have the ability to make my own choices, but I do now. I can and I will. And I get that upsets people, leaves them behind and makes them worry about how it affects them. But it is not about them. It is about me. For once – it is about me. It never was before. But now it is. I got too old to worry about how my choices affected everyone else. I am making my choices based on how they affect me.
Taking back control of my life is motivating. It has allowed me to genuinely love and care for the people that truly matter. Healing is not 100% here, but I am getting there. And for now, it is enough. But I am not looking back. I can’t and I am not sorry. I am living my life as I see fit and holding true to the title of this blog.