anxiety, codependency, humor, laughing at yourself, neurotic, neurotic humor, Therapy

Confessions of a People-Pleaser, Part I

I’ve changed my position about what I used to do all the time, which is people pleasing.  I’m a recovering people-pleaser.  People pleasing is acting in specifically contrived ways so that others will like or approve of you.  You may relate to this or you may not.  Or you may know someone who is one.  You may have been one but learned to stop being one.  To clarify, let me supply a little more personal information for you.  I’m going to try to be completely transparent.

I used to believe that my life was about becoming what others wanted me to be.  I craved acceptance at any cost.  I tried so hard to make you like me.  Today, if I sense someone doesn’t like me, do I obsess about it?  I wish I could say I didn’t.  I still do obsess, but I’ve stop obsessing as much.  I mean I don’t obsess about it as long.  I used to obsess days and days, even sometimes weeks and weeks when I sensed someone didn’t like what I did, or didn’t do, or didn’t like what I said, or didn’t say.  Now, thanks to a wonderful therapist, I only obsess hours and hours about it.  The truth is, I am not fully recovered from people pleasing.

I’m in partial remission, which means I’m in a training-wheels stage.  To my credit, I don’t call my therapist between sessions to talk about the last session “in more detail.”  That drives therapists crazy, believe me.

“Can I buy you a latte?”

Do my insides match my outsides now?  Not really.  I’m calm on the outside but nervous on the inside most of the time.  Just because I’m a therapist myself doesn’t mean I’m not neurotic.

I’ve come a long way forward being authentic.  I used to believe the entire purpose of my life was to become the best replica of the person you wanted me to be, or pretended to be.  Not true anymore.  My anxiety about whether you like me or not is still the same as it was, truth be told, if not worse.  Sometimes it goes through the roof!  Why?  It goes through the roof because I don’t try to pretend to be who you want me to be.  I sort of do it automatically, which I’ve learned to consider progress.

It’s hard not to act in ways you suppose others expect you to act or speak.  Look at the photo of me carefully.  Take some time.  Okay, don’t I look like a people-pleaser?  Come on, you can tell me the truth.  I will not be offended.  I’ve almost got not being offended down perfectly.

Really though, today it matters very much to me who I really am, and that I am being who I really am.  Today I have realized that I don’t have time to play around with projecting images to others.

Strike that.  Turns out I actually do have time to play around projecting false images to others, but only when it makes me feel more secure inside.  Well, how could that not be important?  After all, I’m only in partial remission from this problem, which thousands, or millions, even billions of people may have.  And it’s comforting to know that so many others suffer great chronic stress over this issue.  Well, no, that’s not what I meant.  What I meant is, it’s sad, even tragic, but comforting at the same time, if that’s possible.

I think I’ve said more than I needed to in order to get my point across, or it may be I needed to edit this a bit more.  I definitely need to write more about this problem, so Part II will becoming very soon.  Or when I can get to it, which should be very soon.  I kind of sense that’s what you’re expecting, anyway.







About Ron Houssaye

San Francisco is my planet of origin. I began publishing poems in small press and published poems and a short story, "The Meeting," in the anthology, "Across the Generations." I wrote for newspapers as a feature and news reporter and taught English. I moved on from those careers to obtain a masters in counseling and became a licensed psychotherapist with a passion for family therapy and a specialty as an addictions professional. I am active in community theater and have composed and performed my own songs at small public gatherings. I started blogging in 2017, desiring to be a resource for families facing addiction through speaking, giving workshops, writing and counseling.
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