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People pleasing is a chronic issue for many and it causes many a pain and disappointment. When we make choices to try to make others happy we’re traveling down a path that is most likely going to lead to our suffering and to the detriment of our relationships.
The best relationships I have are when there’s no people pleasing. I feel most comfortable with people who are giving and sharing without expectation. If I’m trying to please someone, then there’s an expectation that they’ll be pleased if I do the thing I think they’ll like. There’s also expectation if I’m NOT doing something I’d like to do because I think they won’t like it. Then, I’m thinking they’ll be happy if I don’t do what I’d like and do what they’d like instead. Haven’t we all learned that these choices are no guarantees of happiness?
If we expect people to be happy and pleased by what we do or don’t do, then isn’t it a disappointment to us if they don’t give us the happiness we seek? We’ve all had situations where people did everything they could to make us happy, but it didn’t work because happiness is an inside job. People can’t make us happy.
Since happiness is an inside job, why do we persist in thinking that what people do or don’t do could ever make us happy, or make us feel loved, or satisfied, or worthy? We’re like a dog chasing it’s tail when trying to make others happy.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely had the thought: I’ll never be happy again unless [insert limiting thought here]. I’ll never be happy unless I’m with him, unless I have a better body, unless I have a better job, house, relationship, etc. I got tired of that insanity. Thinking that way, I finally realized that my main thought was “I’ll never be happy!” UGH! I got tired of not being happy. I got tired of trying to manipulate people all the time – and that’s what people pleasing really is.
People pleasing is “let’s make a deal.” It’s perfect co-dependency.
People pleasing is essentially choosing from this space:
I’ll do these things to make you happy and then your happiness will guarantee your affection or commitment to me, and that will give me the security I need to feel good about myself so maybe I can be happy too. Phew! That’s a lot of work. It’s exhausting and there are so many contingencies!
I made it a priority to be happy today, and that, for me, meant to stop people pleasing and having expectations. They were both hard habits for me to break. I was really convinced that other people could make me happy and make me feel better about myself.
The good news is, when I gave up that manipulating behavior, then I actually felt a whole lot better about myself because I wasn’t secretly manipulating people anymore.
I’ll be honest, some people have been disappointed from time to time that I don’t really desire to do things just to please them. I’ve had people get upset with me from time to time. Some people have felt that I should want to please them. Some people have been angry that I would prefer not to engage with the “let’s make a deal” relationship game. Ultimately, though, these same folks have come back to me and felt grateful to know that I was being authentic and that they couldn’t manipulate me.
Honesty is safer then people pleasing and it feels like Love, which people pleasing doesn’t. Everyone knows when they’re being manipulated and it doesn’t feel good. It feels sticky and icky. Honesty feels clean and clear.
Now, I’d also like to make it known that honesty without kindness isn’t valuable to me. I put kindness first. People pleasing doesn’t feel kind, because manipulation doesn’t feel kind.
I Love that the Dalai Lama has said “kindness is my religion.” Kindness isn’t people pleasing, it’s thoughtfulness, gentleness, compassion and Love all rolled into one. If nothing else, I aspire to be a kinder person.
Let’s all be kinder to ourselves today and let it spill out over on everyone else!
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