The Confessions of an Anxious People-Pleaser

It’s hard to resist people-pleasing.  People pleasing brings rewards, perks, even material advantages sometimes.  I’m a people-pleaser and I’m going to be completely transparent.  Take a glance at that photo of me below.  I look like a people-pleaser, don’t I?  I know I do.  Look at that smile and you can tell right off.

May I take a stab at defining this?  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 people-pleases.  Maybe you are a reformed pleaser and escaped it somehow.  If so, good for you.

I am “in recovery” from people-pleasing.

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.  Okay, I am not fully cured of people pleasing.

I’m in partial remission, which means I’m in a training-wheels stage.  I don’t call my therapist between sessions to talk about the last session “in more detail.”  So I’ve made progress, which is good, because that drives therapists crazy, believe me.

Do my insides match my outsides now?  Not really.  I’m calm on the outside but nervous on the inside most of the time.

I’ve come a long though.  I used to believe the entire purpose of my life was to become the best replica of the person you wanted me to be.  Not true anymore.

My anxiety about whether you like me or not is still the same as it was, truth be told.  Sometimes it goes through the roof because now I refuse to pretend who I imagine the other person wants me to be.

Today it matters very much to just be who I am.  Writing helps me do that.  Who has the time time to play around with projecting images to others?  Let me know if you have any thoughts on this issue of people-pleasing.

“Why can’t I please them all the time? What’s wrong with me?”







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