The Reality of People Pleasing…and how you might die trying
I’m watching my best friend go down a path of twists and turns, accommodations and concessions…confusion and frustration.
Our once daily conversations are now few and far between, as this wonderful, bright light of a person has dimmed and darkened in the presence of the wrong people.
My best friend is a “people pleaser.” She acknowledges it, and she realizes that it has made her miserable. Now, if she could only find the confidence to make the changes she needs to get back to her happy self…
People Pleasers are actually trying to control other people’s perception of them…
My friend has always been incredibly optimistic and a cheerleader to anyone struggling. Those around her were inspired by the way she handled life’s challenges, and when we had to face ours, she was there for us. People were drawn to her honesty and positive energy…she made anyone around her feel better about themselves.
I noticed a change in her a couple of years ago when she began a relationship with a “hot” guy who was fun and exciting, but not all that stable. In her attempt to keep the relationship going, she began to accommodate his interests and needs over her own.
He was unemployed. She had always had a very strong work ethic, but after being laid off, she didn’t pursue another job so they could spend time together. She stopped doing her “side hustles” to go to concerts and hang out with him and his friends. Everything about her began to change, including the way she dressed, the places she went, and the hobbies and activities that she used to enjoy. Plans with me and other girlfriends were canceled, or never made, to accommodate his schedule and do whatever he wanted to do.
She was among a new group of people, and her kind and pleasing nature was in full force as she wanted to “be nice” and have them like her.
Our conversations now centered on endless drama. She vented about how she didn’t trust her boyfriend, and how his friends were always giving her a hard time. They needed rides, they needed money, they needed somewhere to go on Saturday night, they needed someone to complain to, and she needed to be needed…she was helping and supporting people who weren’t helping themselves, and they were all too happy to take advantage of her.
They were experts at making her feel guilty if she didn’t do what they wanted instead of appreciating the things that she did for them…
They had managed to drag her down before she was able to lift them up, and the saddest part is that while she acknowledged it, she didn’t have the self esteem to make the changes to stop doing it. When I asked why she kept trying to please these people who made her feel so miserable, she consistently answered with, “I feel bad.”
She wanted to be seen as a good person and was struggling with her own insecurities, lack of self esteem, and inability to set boundaries. She supported their bad behavior in an effort to be liked, and it undermined her own values and character.
She was no longer a good friend to me…
I did not want to be around these new people, and wasn’t all that eager to spend time with her, anymore. She canceled our plans because she was so wrapped up in trying not to disappoint them. Every choice she made to try to please them was a choice away from spending time with true friends who actually cared about her…and we all felt a little less significant as we watched it all.
We really didn’t know who she was, anymore.
I talked to her about what was happening…I missed her and was worried about her, but I couldn’t get her to see the toll it was taking on her and her healthy relationships. She was emotionally drained and exhausted, and every day the cycle would start all over again.
What do you think would happen if you just said “no”…
She finally did, and she received the negative reactions that she had been subconsciously avoiding. As she slowly began changing her responses and “breaking up” with the people who had been dragging her down, they sent paragraphs of texts about how they “thought she was a nice person” and how “dare she walk away from their friendship.” Others just ghosted her completely…if they couldn’t get what they needed they were done.
Their replies were filled with anger and manipulation instead of caring or concern, and she was able to see it. She slowly began to put herself first and live her life, again…instead of living theirs.
And we are all still here to support and cheer for her as she finds herself, again.
When you agree with “everyone” you begin to lose your own integrity and diminish your true relationships…
Kindness and generosity are qualities that support and build healthy relationships. Friendships develop among like minded people who have the capacity to appreciate and reciprocate the energy you are putting out there.
Trying to please others is not the same thing…
If what you’re doing for others becomes too much and isn’t lifting you up, then back away from the need to please…because the best parts of you may truly die while you’re trying.