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Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser

July 17, 2017

Looking for everyone’s approval is something I have spent a lot of my life doing.  The better half of it, I would say.  Even when it appeared to everyone else that I didn’t care what they thought, that I would say or do anything to make someone laugh regardless of how ridiculous it made me […]

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Looking for everyone’s approval is something I have spent a lot of my life doing.  The better half of it, I would say.  Even when it appeared to everyone else that I didn’t care what they thought, that I would say or do anything to make someone laugh regardless of how ridiculous it made me look…it was still me caring what people thought of me. Because it was all fun and games until the joke fell flat or I took it too far.  Then it was defeat, crippling self-consciousness, and anxiety.  
“Keep everybody happy at all costs” was the manifesto of my early years.  I went through school a model student, a good friend, and the girl who could make people laugh (usually). I tried to be “good” at home, too, but often that proved a bit more difficult.  #sorryparents
While I was busy not rocking the boat, I was focusing all my energy on other people.  I wanted nothing more than to make others happy; it was my whole identity.  I wanted everyone to be happy.  All the time.  And if I could make someone happy, then I was happy.  But if I couldn’t?  Well…then I was devastated.  
Combined with my iron will to please others, I also happen to be extremely sensitive.  I feel things very deeply, including the emotions of others.  It definitely has its pros and cons.  Being perceptive and empathetic are part of what make me a great therapist.  On the flip side, there are also times when my emotions and deep feels have gotten the better of me, to say the least.  #sorryhubby
As I’ve grown up, I’ve come face to face with how completely unhealthy it is to base my worth as a human on whether or not the people around me are having a good day.  It’s also completely impossible to ever feel like you are achieving your  purpose when your purpose is the tidal chart of someone else’s moods.  
Friends, people pleasing is not a purpose.  I’ve discovered this truth in my own life, and I have sat with countless clients on their own quest to discover it.  Many of them began where I did, in full-on people pleasing mode, mistaking it for the end all, be all goal of their life.  But they, like me, are discovering more every day what a purpose really is:  the reason for which something is created.  We are also discovering what it is not:  something that depends on the fickle hearts of humans.
A purpose has to be constant – something that doesn’t shift, bend, or move.  It must be more than human moods and mindsets. Looking for everyone’s approval is a major distraction from finding out the real reasons we’re here. 
Being a people pleaser is the surest way I know to burn out, stress out, and die out.  I’d rather live my life with passion and real purpose.  No more distractions.  Life’s too short for those.  
“If our lives are filled with purpose, we won’t be distracted looking for everyone’s approval.” – Bob Goff
****If your struggles as a people pleaser are taking too much joy from your life, please feel free to email me.  I would love to walk you through the process of breaking free from that trap in a few focused FaceTime, Skype, or telephone sessions.

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