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The war against people-pleasing.

I’m 30 years old and a chronic people-pleaser.

I’m not happy about it. It’s something that I noticed at a young age, but couldn’t pinpoint because it is simply the way that I’ve always been and therefore seemed normal.

As I got older, I admired how my sisters/ friends/ random people said no and didn’t feel the need to explain themselves.

A few years ago, my boyfriend at the time pointed it out to me. He said,

“Babe, you don’t need to say yes to everyone, and you certainly don’t need to hug every single person you see and give them so much of your time”.

It was, as Oprah likes to call it, an “aha moment”.

It seems crazy that someone needed to point it out to me. I’m not an imbecile, I swear.

What I am though, is an empath. I care about people, notice their feelings/ moods, and naturally try to help, at times to my own detriment.

I want to assist and take them to the next level and find myself doing things for others that I neglect doing for myself.

Don’t be mistaken - I can and do stand up for myself when necessary, it’s the day-to-day life interactions that can be tiring and the realization that I’ve given too much of myself, to people who many times don’t deserve it, or reciprocate it, only comes after I’ve done it.

It is this that I am trying to do better with. Not to stop caring or being kind to people, but to recognize in the moment when someone has the intention to take advantage of my kindness, time, and/or my talents.

My realization is that while my intentions are good, and while I say what I mean and I do what I say, the unfortunate reality is that the world is replete with people who don’t share that same code of ethics.

And while I refuse to stop seeing the good in people, and will always treat others the way I hope to be treated - for the sake of my own wellbeing, I intend to take a more mutual approach to interactions and to not over-extend myself.

There is some comfort in acknowledging this trait of mine, which has many times resulted in hurt and heartache to me. However, in addition to the people-pleasing, is a quality that even though it could be seen as a lead up to said people-pleasing, it is one that I am proud of, and appreciate in myself:

The ability to listen before I speak. To learn before I teach. To think before I do.

While others are talking and selling themselves, attempting to show relevance and superiority, I listen and observe, not feeling the need to immediately sell myself or my abilities, as my character speaks for itself.

This is one of two lessons (mentioned) that my mother instilled in me.

  1. Your character defines you. My behavior, actions, and words have weight, and that if my intention is good, I am good.

2. You get what you allow.

There’s some irony in the second lesson, given the title of this post and my subsequent admission that I sometimes allow myself to be taken advantage of for the sake of pleasing others.

Although I still struggle with this, her lesson was/ is not futile, as when it counts, I hear her words and act accordingly.

If I am to get what I allow, well then I will have to make it clear that there are actions that I am not willing to allow.


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