Saturday, August 29, 2015

To All the People Pleasers Out There

"We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please." - Lisa Terkeurst

I've had a two-part revelation, and it is one that I am still trying to fully grasp and make sense of in my own life. The first part comes down to two words: People Pleaser.

I've been a people pleaser for nearly twenty years. It was how I grew up. I've learned as an adult that it comes from the need to feel accepted while at the same time, proving myself to others. What I tend to be left with are feelings of anxiety that I am not nor will I ever be good enough...for my friends, my job, even my family at times. Once let in, anxiety wraps itself around your mind, snakes down through your heart and settles in the pit of your stomach. I should know. I've lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It has become such a common feeling that I don't know what it is like not to feel anxiety anymore.

I had never labeled myself as a people pleaser. It actually came about in the form of an innocent bulletin board decoration when I was thirteen years old. Each of my classmates and I were compared to an object that fit our personality, according to a few of our classmates who were in charge of putting it together. Someone was a stapler, I remember. I went up to the board and looked for my name. Another student saw it first and exclaimed that it was a perfect description. It must be something awesome!  I thought as I found my name. There it was- Little Debbie snack cake "because she pleases everyone." Someone else read it and was quick to say that it was true because I was such a people pleaser. At the time, I embraced that label and didn't think twice that maybe being a people pleaser wasn't necessarily a good thing.

Years later, in college, I was sorting through old folders and tubs of school papers, artwork, and notebooks from my childhood. Stuck in my junior high art folder was the small slip of paper that had been stapled to the bulletin board all those years ago. When I read it then, my heart sank to my stomach, and I felt disappointed. I had forgotten about that label, but I saw how it had affected me through the years. I crumpled up the paper and threw it in the trash with old math papers and science notes. Unfortunately, we don't always take those moments to heart. We continue to live with whatever labels we let the world give us. At least that is what happened in my case. More years of trying to please others followed until one day, I found myself in a place where it was not enough. The aftermath of that situation left me broken, and when I realized all my years of people pleasing had been in vain, anxiety drew itself around my heart and mind stronger than before.

In the name of being vulnerable, three years later, I still fight being a people pleaser. It isn't that I am
not sincere in my efforts; I work hard and try to be the best at what I do in all areas of my life- employee, friend, sister, and daughter. The problem is that it is not always enough and never will be. I am accepted by those around me, but I don't see it because I can't accept myself for who I am. I don't have to prove anything to the people in my life, but still I try. And it's never good enough. I mess up. I fail at tasks, at being a good sister or daughter. Then I let the anxiety taunt me and wreak havoc inside. It is time to see that being a people pleaser really is a disease. I have to love the people in my life enough to trust them and not compare them to past relationships. I have to take control of the anxiety that has set up residence inside of me and get rid of it. Just as importantly, I have to learn to know and accept who I am, then love and embrace that person.

1 comment:

Serenity said...

Do it. Absolutely. Care what you think of you. Love you, Nikki.