Choosing to no longer seek the approval of (and trying to please) others may be the most challenging thing we ever face. Sometimes anger is our only way out, but when the anger subsides, we can feel the familiar pull of old habits. However (and whenever) it happens, turning the corner is the difference between night and day.
The Great Equalizer
Happiness is the great equalizer. We can never really tell if anyone else is truly happy. We can never truly make anyone else happy unless they really want to be happy.
I have to admit that as focused and (authentically) happy as I am now, through everything I’ve learned and overcome, there’s still pain and resistance to being happy, which requires all of my wisdom (as well as others) in order to find peace. It takes a deep and abiding appreciation of the journey and the process of life. We weren’t born to please others; we were born to be true to ourselves, and the sooner we realize that, the better we’ll feel.
I have found that in being true to myself, compromise is compromising, and it is a weakness. I know when I’ve compromised myself, and that is always the greatest source of regret. It’s when you let yourself down that hurts the most.
I’ve strengthened my inner strength by not letting myself down, being my own best friend, and supporting myself, no matter how difficult it was at first.
My self-worth used to come from other people and external things, and it felt nearly impossible to unplug from that, but it is possible, and for me, the only way to live happily.
Approval-seeking and people-pleasing is an emotional addiction, and the only way out (that I’ve found) is to become hooked on your own soul.
Today, I’m as free as the day I was born. I feel innocent and pure. Not because I’m doing anything, but because I’ve chosen to be uncompromisingly true to myself.
I’m kicking the people-pleasing habit, and since it’s a habit, I need to keep reminding myself that my new habit is following my bliss/inner guidance/the path of least resistance. People-pleasing is actually following the path of most resistance, but people-pleasers don’t realize that until life starts being a real pain in the ass. We train people to treat us the way we believe we should be treated, and people-pleasing says that what we want is less important than what someone else wants, which isn’t true.
As a former people-pleaser, I’m aware of when I feel the need to justify why I’m doing what I’m doing, when the truth is that I don’t need to justify myself to anyone. I’m doing what I’m doing – the way I’m doing it – because that’s what I want to do. Sure, I could try to explain myself to someone, but why?
Kicking the people-pleasing habit is about wanting to live a sincere life. Don’t try to please people, and let them decide how they feel about you. It might be challenging for a while, and people might throw a hissy fit, but so what. Life will become much simpler and you’ll feel a lot better, especially about yourself.
I’m realizing that any situation that gets you to move in the right direction is a good thing, and how do you know what the right direction is? For me, there’s a sense of relief, and it feels better. There’s movement and energy in that area of life. You don’t feel stuck anymore, and there’s a growing sense of self-empowerment. That’s how I’m feeling after applying for another job today. That’s three different jobs in just as many days. I also have an illustration job that I’ve struggled with for the past couple of months, and I know that it has to do with my own internal conflict.
The internal conflict has to do with my beliefs, principles, and values. It also has to do with believing in myself, and being who I am. One of the more challenging things I’ve faced is allowing myself to do what’s right for me, and allowing others to do what’s right for them. It’s about being an independent and free person. I’ve already done that with friends and acquaintances, but now it’s my immediate family that I’m needing to detach myself (emotionally) from.
I don’t know how many times I went against myself in order to please someone else. Probably most of the time. There are reasons, justifications, and excuses as to why I would do that, but it doesn’t matter. I know better now, and I know that it feels better to follow my inner guidance, or at least, it feels worse to please others. If I can please others and do what’s right for me, then good, but my choice will always be to trust in myself.
If you’re like me, and your strategy has been to seek approval from others, trying to please them, and gain self-esteem through accomplishments, I think you’ll eventually find that it doesn’t work, and it backfires on you. You’ll grow to resent pleasing others, and trying to fill a void is a never-ending endeavor. The very people you were trying to please will also resent being manipulated. These are all harsh truths that I’ve learned, and there seemed to be a series of rock bottoms until I finally got it. It may hurt (a lot), but once you get this, you’ll be home free.
Trying not to be a people-pleaser aka a jerk is equally futile. Either way, you’re working with a false and limiting belief about who you really are. It’s like saying from the get-go that you’re powerless. When all strategies of trying to appease others fail, it’s actually a blessing. For the past year (especially), any time I tried to people-please I’d get nauseous, and imagine throwing up. I think of it as my ego going through withdrawal symptoms.
What’s worked for me – the antidote – is to be unconditional, and I’ve found that everything is a condition; thoughts, attitudes, moods, beliefs, behaviors, situations, successes, failures, people, things, you name it. Being conditional means in order to be who you are (a happy and fulfilled human being), a condition must first be met. That’s essentially slavery to external things. I think the ego itself is a condition, and I find that the more unconditional I am, the more whole and integrated I feel. I believe that what we truly want is to be who we really are, and everything is an excuse, or reason, or condition we may (or may not) use for that.
I’m keeping it simple. If something feels good, I move toward it, and if it feels bad, I move away from it. That’s the path of least resistance. Somewhere along the way I adopted other people’s guidance for my own inner guidance, which is the path of most resistance.
It’s revealing that I’m sometimes confused about what feels good to me. When that happens, it shows me that I’m out of touch with my inner guidance. The only reason I can think of that I wouldn’t follow what feels good to me would be fear-based beliefs. Unfortunately, if we believe in fear, we perpetuate it.
I’m glad that my strategy of people-pleasing has completely and utterly failed to make me happy or successful. Now I really know it doesn’t work. It’s made me get very clear about how to go forward if I want to be happy and successful. I think – at the heart of it – everyone wants to feel good, and our journey through life is about our beliefs regarding what will make us feel good.
It can be easy and subtle for me to lose track of my inner guidance, but I’m aware of it every time, because I always want to feel good, and I can tell when that’s not happening. I want to be a connoisseur of feeling good. I want my life to be varying shades of feeling good and feeling better. I’ve experienced enough of not feeling good to know that I prefer to feel good.
It’s afternoon, and I feel better, and I feel better that I feel better. I’m aware of the mercurial and inconstant nature of my moods. I know that at the heart of my discomfort is the desire to get along with people, while at the same time not wanting to betray who I am. I’m realizing that I can have harmony with others while still being true to myself. It’s a daily practice.
I want to be integrated and whole.
I want to feel stable and strong.
I want to go with the flow of my natural and powerful stream of well-being.
I know when I’m not integrated or aligned, because it feels bad, like I’m alienated from my Source. There’s fear in the thought of disapproval from others, but my love of being connected to my True Self trumps the fear. There’s a part of me that wants to seek approval, but that part of me has been so disappointed and disillusioned, that it finally hurts too much to try to please others, and that’s actually a very good thing for my further development.
I still want things from other people, like cooperation, resources, friendship, and love, but I’m no longer trying to fill a void. Now I can do whatever I’m doing without the extra weight of guilt, shame, and fear. I can follow my inner guidance, and learn from my life experiences.
Part of my integration is bringing together the diverse Life Areas. Each Life Area has meaning and purpose, and is capable of providing satisfaction and fulfillment. I want to dive in and squeeze all the juice out of each Life Area. Maybe my Spirit is eternal, but this is the only life I have in this particular body, and while I’m here I want to know who I am, what I’m about, and what I can do.