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How To Deal With People-Pleasing Tendencies After You Fail To Please People

 

Like I’ve said so many times before, sometimes I write just to sort things out in my own head, and hopefully in that sorting I will feel better and also possibly help someone else. This is one of those times.

In the broadest of explanations, I am out of sorts, and it’s a state from which I can’t seem to extricate myself. As I pause to reflect upon the why’s and how’s of this out-of-sortness, a few of the usual suspects rear their ugly heads (kid aggravations being one such example), but when I really burrow deep, I think the root of this issue lies in the conflict between standing my ground and my people-pleasing tendencies.

For a really, really long time, maybe even for as long as I can remember, there would be no conflict… I would inevitably revert to people-pleasing. I may bitch and moan about it, I may seek passive aggressive means of standing my ground in future situations as a form of revenge, but ultimately, in the moment of conflict, I deferred in favor of making the other person happy.

As I work on becoming a more honest and authentic version of myself, I have become aware of the conflict, and wonder whether the path of least resistance is doing anyone any good. At the bare minimum it makes me feel not quite honest, and not quite authentic!  This certainly does not mean that I choose the right action every time, but I am getting better and better and saying what I mean, and meaning what I say. If I don’t actually assert myself or voice my own feelings, at the very least I can choose to do or say nothing, so at least I’m not practicing dishonesty.

Old Me: “Of COURSE it’s not a problem! No worries! That will be fine/I am fine/You are fine!”

Current Me: (silence)

Hopefully Future Me: “The truth is that I’m feeling…”

Sometimes though, when you are seeking honesty, there is simply no way around a conflict between two people. As humans we each have our unique thought processes, opinions, and strategies for handling life, and my way of doing things does not always mesh with the way others do things.

And then there’s the moment of truth:  stand my ground, or defer in order to smooth out the rough edges of the situation.

Of course, anyone reading knows the obvious answer is if you believe in yourself, your stance, you stand your ground. I knew that even when I wasn’t doing it.

The trick isn’t even in the standing of ground (although that’s certainly not fun). The real trick is living inside of my own head in the days that follow.

I am in perpetual awe of people who can take a stand, face their adversaries gracefully, and then let the situation go. I simply do not know how to do that. Even when I believe in myself, even when I have no regrets in any decision I have made, my people pleasing tendencies make me twitchy in wanting to correct, to soothe, to make everyone in the world happy again.

So what to do in this situation?  Well, historically the simple investigation and acknowledgement of such feelings goes a long way, as does writing about it and seeking empathy.  It’s always a great thing to know I’m not alone.

But the further work for me is in the practice of letting go… letting go of my expectations of how things should have been, or how things should be currently.  Letting go of the worry of the future. Letting go of my projections as to how the rest of the world is thinking and feeling.  Full disclosure:  that last one’s the toughest!

I just exhaled deeply in re-reading that last bit.  Yep, the cathartic writing exercise works again!  Now, the next post will be when and how I figure out the “letting go” part!  Advice, as always, is welcome!

 

 

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