My whole life, I have been a people pleaser. However, I never really saw this as a bad thing until I got older. I slowly came to the realization that something I viewed as a positive quality, making people like me, was actually leading me to a place where I didn’t really stand for anything. Everyone liked me, sure, but why? I realized it was because I didn’t really have an opinion, at least not on anything deep or relevant. I was a class clown, a sweetheart, a space cadet, but I wasn’t really someone you imagine having a lot of conviction.
Why? What I discovered was that I was terrified of making people unhappy or angry, that my emotional foundation was very shaky because other people’s approval was my source of security and acceptance, but it was also the compass I used to determine right and wrong. Does this sound like you?
We can't be truly happy if we are people pleasers.
We can't be grounded in conviction or faith if we let other people's fleeting, subjective opinions control our happiness.
We also can never please everyone. So the life of a people pleaser is a tragic one. You sacrifice your own happiness in an attempt to fulfill other people's expectations, and in the end you are left with nothing. Sometimes you wake up not even knowing who you are, or what you think.
No one can live your life for you, and you can't live it for anyone else. People are going to have opinions on what you do that have nothing to do with whether or not it's the right thing.
Find Your Conviction
The key to growing out of people pleasing is finding your conviction. If you have to skip your friends birthday party because you aren't feeling well: instead of asking yourself how your friend is going to react, ask yourself, "Am I really too sick to go to the party? Is this something that I feel OK about missing? Am I, in general, a good friend to this person?" If those answers are yes, that should be all you need. If your friend is upset, it is up to her to deal with it.
This can be a hard lesson to learn. But being a people pleaser is no life to live. When you are tempted to say what people want to hear, or say "yes" to something that you can't or don't want to do, remember that you are not doing anyone any favors.
Be yourself, be authentic, be kind, be good. People's opinions of you will rise and fall like the tide. But at least you will like yourself.