I Used to be a People-Pleaser
Why I cared so much what others thought
I am a former people-pleaser. People-pleasers are exactly what the name implies – people who do everything in their power to please the people around them.
I was a people-pleaser for two reasons. First, I hate confrontation. Arguments make me uncomfortable. Even when I am sure the other person is dead wrong, I despise a battle. My people-pleasing behavior stems directly from my desire to avoid arguing.
Second, I want to be liked. I started life as a people-pleaser; it took a great deal of growing up to realize that I cannot win everyone over. It took longer than that to understand that it is ok to be disliked – especially by people I actually disrespect.
If my story has the strength to give people the power to love themselves for who they are, rather than who they think the world wants them to be, it must be genuine and honest. So hold on. I am about to unload a sea of truths about myself in an effort to prevent someone else from following the misguided path I walked for too long.
Real Talk about Low Self-Esteem
People-Pleasers simply don’t feel good enough
I have always had an old soul. I never felt like my peers. I didn’t know that I saw the world differently. I just knew that I was much more serious than them. I would watch kids play and wonder why I couldn’t just relax and play too. I hated myself for being unusual, anxious, worried, and sensitive.
I spoke in an earlier blog about my experience with being bullied. It impacted me deeply. And, even though I knew bullies behaved deplorably, I wanted fit in with them. The problem was, my conscience would not allow it. In every situation, I preferred being bullied over bullying someone back.
I didn’t know it then, but I do now – I have a strong sense of integrity. I cannot sleep at night if I think my actions have caused someone else pain.
A People-Pleaser’s Guide to Self-Acceptance
It is ok to be different
I still take things seriously. I am still highly sensitive. I still avoid most arguments. The difference is, I have redefined my parameters.
I no longer feel less than for having a soft heart or being anxious. I believe the world is too hard and I am happy to be the empathetic one in the room. More than that, I am proud of it. This is who I am. I will not change my best qualities to meet a tough crowd.
If I care deeply about a relationship, I take the time to express my opinion and argue my case, even when it’s uncomfortable. Some relationships are worth the risk, and honesty WILL save a broken relationship if the other party cares about it as much as I do.
I don’t argue with people who don’t matter or who I know will run right over me. I have deemed people who will not hear me as unkind. It takes a great deal of self-importance for someone to insist they are right all the time. I have no time or energy to change anyone who is THAT selfish. When I face a losing battle, I throw down my cards and yes someone to death until they leave me alone.
While I am soft-hearted, I have little empathy for people who care only about themselves. They aren’t worth my time. This is one of my character defects, and I can live with it.
Yessing Someone is Not a People-Pleasing Behavior Anymore
It is about saving my time and energy for what matters
When I acquiesce now, I don’t do it so someone will like me for being agreeable. I do it because my gut tells me that arguing will either cause me harm or isn’t worth the effort. I do not care if someone thinks this makes me appear weak. I don’t think it makes me likeable, actually. I think people mostly realize I just don’t care.
I also think people know that I will not play tit for tat. That is intimidating. I am not moveable. I am stubborn and will absolutely not change my ethics for anyone or anything.
Some People Will Never Like Me
And that’s ok
I am real. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not. I don’t change who I am to win anyone over. While I still wish everyone would like me, I understand that because I will not compromise my ideals, that is impossible.
It has taken me decades to learn that I have a right to be exactly who I am (as long as I am not unkind). I believe everyone has a right to be who they are. I even believe mean people have a right to be who they are. I think mean people will ultimately lose, but they have every right to do their thing and be themselves.
I do not like everyone. There is no rational reason for me to want everyone to like me. There is certainly no reason for me to be someone I’m not just to gain favor with someone I dislike.
I No Longer Define Myself By What Others Think Of Me
And neither should you
I used to decide my worth based on how I felt the world viewed me. First of all, perception is not always reality. If I think someone dislikes me and they don’t, I am basing my self-esteem on a lie.
Much more importantly, though, is this: Most people do not actually know me. I am very open about my life and my experiences, but I am very, very careful about who I allow to really SEE me.
How can I let someone who I don’t let know me designate how I feel about myself? I can’t. I have to know who I am and look to the people that I allow in to see myself in the proper mirror.
I know exactly who I am. I know exactly who I want to be. My closest friends and my family also really KNOW me. These are MY people. When one of them tells me I am unworthy, I will take it under advisement and really consider whether I need to do or be better. Until then, nobody dictates how I feel about myself.
Truthfully, I accept myself and even like myself. I have spent a lifetime BECOMING the woman I want to be. Self-acceptance has been a process. It was a road worth taking. It is also a path I plan on continuing for as long as I live.
I truly believe that love can save the world. When I applied that rule to myself, my whole life changed. If you are a people-pleaser, I get it.
Comment below to tell me your experience. I promise to you with the love you deserve.