I hate to admit it, but I’m a people pleaser.
With my thirtieth birthday looming, I’m taking stock of all my habits, behaviours and characteristics. There’s nothing like leaving your twenties behind to force you to reflect on your life up till this point, the good, the bad, the ugly…
You decide, I’m fine with whatever. This has been my go-to mantra for most of my adult life. I often find myself managing the needs of others and worrying about how they’re feeling, meanwhile forgetting to check in with myself.
That is, until I completely lose it and have an outburst of sorts.
In general, I think people pleasing is pretty common. After all, we’re all taught not to complain too much, to be polite, and to be fun to be around. What starts out harmless enough (I mean, where would we be without common courtesies and human decency?) can end up turning into bitterness and resentment.
While managing the expectations and anticipating the needs of others, I’m realising how exhausted I am and that I’m not actually living my life to the fullest. I know it’s rooted in fear; the fear of how my choices might impact or inconvenience others. But relying on others to make the big calls will affect your relationship with that person (and ultimately with yourself). It’s detrimental to those around you. While they may initially benefit from you being accommodating, they may also feel the weight of making all the decisions.
Do you find yourself doing one or more of the following?
- Saying yes to everything, even when you don’t have time or don’t want to do something
- Changing or shifting your plans (especially last minute) to suit others
- Holding back when asked for feedback or an honest opinion
- Allowing other people to talk down to you or to question your judgment
- Always letting the other person command the conversation
If so, you may be suffering from similar people pleasing behaviour.
So, how do we deal with our people pleasing tendencies? Well, I’m still figuring it out and probably won’t have it figured out by the time I turn thirty. But to start, I’m now making room for the goals I’ve long pushed aside; the ones I keep telling myself I’ll get around to one day. If that comes across as selfish, I’m okay with that. After all, it’s okay to dedicate time to our own dreams.
Photography by Sophie Isabella.