“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, yet there will still be people who hate peaches.” Vita Von Teese
I have been guilty of being a people pleaser. Often saying “yes” when I really mean “no.” Often putting the happiness of others over mine. I am guilty of wanting to make the whole world happy, because if I make everyone happy then everyone will love and accept me – and then maybe I’ll be happy. Even as I am writing this now, I am trying to please you, reader, by not making grammatical errors so that you will like and respect me. I am trying not to make mistakes, because if I make mistakes then I probably won’t be accepted and respected by you. Right?
From childhood, many of us are rewarded and praised for being “good” but punished and scolded for being “bad.” My mother, for instance, would punish me if I fidgeted in church because that was “bad” and rewarded me if I sat quietly and still because that was “good.” I was told to “act like a lady” and to “eat with your mouth closed” because that’s the “right” and “acceptable” way. I was praised when I behaved in accordance to my family’s values and lectured when I strayed from their world view. As we grow up, we become wired to believe that if we are good, whatever that means, then we will be rewarded and people will, praise, love and accept us. But if we are bad, whatever that means, then we will be punished and people will scold, hate and reject us. So how do we get love? By being “good,” whatever that means, to others.
Now this puts us in a bind for many reasons. We don’t all agree on what’s good or bad. Some of us find it good to be reserved and introverted, others find it good to be outgoing and extraverted. Some like chocolate others like vanilla. Some like Bush others like Clinton. And in the end, we find ourselves pleasing some while disappointing others no matter which choice we make. Additionally, when we live only to make others happy, we fail to be true to ourselves and consequently suffer.
We all want to be accepted in some way or another – by someone or another. It hurts to be told that “you are not welcome here.” And if you’re anything like me, you find yourself putting others first because you don’t want to upset them, because to upset them means they’re unhappy and if they’re unhappy they will leave us. This search for approval and strong desire to be liked by everyone only becomes more complicated when you are torn by people whose pleasures are derived from different “good” standards. Your mom wants you to be a doctor, your dad wants you to work in the family business, and you want to be DJ, which they both loath. You want to move to California, your partner wants to stay in New York. What to do!?
First, and foremost, no matter what you do, someone out there will be unhappy. Some will adore you, some will despise you, while others won’t give a damn either way. Living a life that is designed around making others happy in order to receive love is a recipe for failure and pain. It is not your job to make anyone happy, nor is it anyone’s job to make you happy. When we place our happiness on anything that is external, we always lose because nothing external is guaranteed or permanent.
When you were born, you were there, and when you die, you will be there. You are the only one who will always be with you – no matter what, no matter where. For this reason, cultivating a life of love for yourself is crucial to freeing yourself from seeking validation outside of yourself. Everything else will follow from there. Once you are grounded in yourself, having the approval of others will not be required to validate your life because you will already have validated yourself.
Here are some tips on how to stop pleasing everyone while forgetting yourself.
- Practice saying “no” when you mean “no.”
If you tend to say “yes” when you mean “no” only so that others can be happy with you, next time, when your gut feeling and real intent is no, say “no.” You don’t have to stretch yourself thin only because you are too afraid to say no. Saying no does not make you a bad person. You are putting yourself first and that is always important. It is like they tell you in the air plane, “secure the mask on yourself first, before putting it on your child.” You must take care of you first and be true to yourself first before you can tend to the agenda of others.
2. Speak your mind.
You are here to be expressed! The world needs your perspective. Your thoughts and feelings are valid. Do not hide your voice because you think others will be displeased with you if you speak up. Let the world hear your truth! You may be surprised to see that it isn’t as scary as it seems to speak your mind.
3. Remember, you can’t please everyone and that’s perfectly ok.
It is not your job to be the basis of happiness for others. You are not here to be the court jester of anyone. No matter what you do or don’t do, someone somewhere will have some negative thing to say about it. There is no way to please the whole world because we are all different and experience the world from a unique paradigm. Remind yourself that you are valued just the way you are and that it is not required of you to always be there for everyone all the time.
4. Practice self-validating rituals.
When you feel like you are “bad” because you aren’t pleasing everyone, practice self- validating rituals that refocus your attention back to who you really are and that help you let go of expectations. Tell yourself (as many times as necessary to sink in):
I am enough as I am.
I am valid and my feelings are valid.
I am not bad for speaking my truth.
I am not bad for saying “no.”
I am not wrong for standing up for myself.
There is nothing wrong with me.
I am whole, complete, just the way I am.
5. Give yourself a pep-talk.
Sometimes you gotta be your own coach. When you feel like you’ve let others down by putting yourself first, give yourself a talk. Proudly proclaim to yourself:
This is YOU time!
You’ve already done what you can, now it’s time for YOU.
You got this! You rock!
You can’t be there for others when you’re not even there for yourself. So just BREATHE. Don’t you dare feel bad. You’re amazing!
This is ALL ABOUT YOU NOW! Walk out there strong, and ROCK IT!
I hope this is helpful to you.
Always remember that you can’t please the whole world, but you can please yourself by being true to yourself simply because you’re worth it. You are important – live like it!