“We never give up on something and will fight until the end to make other people happy. We know how important it is to please our clients, and that is ultimately our goal for the guys in our lives. PR girls are always the ones to put other people’s needs before their own…”
Makes me want to weep… because in my case it’s true. I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on making sure other people are okay. I have been known to cook three dinners in an evening. THREE! My daughter won’t eat pasta, my son doesn’t want sausages and my husband doesn’t want to eat at 6… Do I put my foot down, make one meal and say eat when, how and what as you like?
No. I go about resentfully making food and loudly banging pots to make sure everyone knows that this particular act of people pleasing is under duress.
That’s the problem with people pleasing. The people being pleased don’t generally notice and the pleaser ends up feeling resentful and used.
The trap is one of my own making and it’s really hard to stop. If I take responsibility for making someone happy and then I stop AND inexplicably, they remain happy… Well?!?
A few weeks ago, after close to 39 years of dedicated (and may I say thankless!) people pleasing I have decided to stop.
It was after a really BIG conversation with a good friend about my unhappiness at work. She pulled no punches and said my people pleasing was getting in the way of my ability to think creatively and effectively about my work. I could try and please my bosses, continue to do unremarkable work and become more miserable or I could please myself, do awesome shit or get fired trying.
After some tears, self flagellation (how did it get this bad, why did I not see what I was becoming… lash, whip, blah, blah, lash etc. etc.) and finally a great bottle of wine I was determined. Frightened! But determined.
And so far, nothing too awful has happened. My family and friends are laughing and smiling just as much as they used to and miraculously, I am doing better in and at my work.
It appears that worrying too much about other people seriously gets in the way of my making good, creative and strategic decisions. Once I stopped factoring in my bosses’ reactions and how these did or didn’t reflect on me I was freed up to make better choices, to not take criticism (too) personally and to generally get on with getting stuff done.
I was expecting there to be a bit of a backlash. I have been taking full responsibility for emotional state of almost all the people around me for some time and thought that this might mean that, in fact, I had been making some small impact. As it turns out, not so much… (Slightly disappointed, I won’t lie…)
The world continues, regardless of me – so best I do what makes me happy and find people who enjoy what I do so that we can wend our way, happily, through this chaotic life together.