One of the most important lessons that I learned during my cancer journey was that I had become a people-pleaser. I hadn't always been that way, but over time I had taken on the (self imposed) responsibility of making sure everyone around me was happy.
I had become a Chief People-Pleaser!
But to my defense, helping others meant I was a good person, right? I was always taught that it was better to give than to receive.
Yes, giving is a good thing, but where I broke down was in the level of giving. I had sacrificed my own wellbeing for the happiness of others. If they were happy, I was happy. If they weren’t, I made it my responsibility to figure out why and fix it for them.
But that was the wrong thing to do.
A dear friend helped me understand that I had to stop being a people pleaser. He explained it this way:
"God brings each of us into this world with our own individual spiritual journey which includes a variety of challenges meant to help teach that us lessons of strength and encouragement along the way.
If you intervene and carry someone else's burden, two things happen:
- Your bucket becomes overflowing with challenge (and unhappiness)
- You rob the other person of their own spiritual journey with God."
I never thought of it this way. I never thought that I was taking away someone else's spiritual journey. I thought I was being helpful by easing her/her burden, but I understand now, that it is not my place to intervene.
I realized that I needed to stop being a people-pleaser. I had to recognize that I was not responsible for the emotions of others. I was only responsible for myself.
As women, we have a strong tendency toward pleasing others. Maybe it is how we are wired. But, for the good of our own wellbeing, both emotionally and physically, we must always check the temperature on our “people-pleasing gauge” and make sure it is within a reasonable range.
Raising self-awareness is the beginning of all growth. So, from this day forward, ask yourself two important questions:
- “Is this my challenge, or someone else's?”
- “Am I impeding on their spiritual journey?”
Breaking the habit of people-pleasing can be difficult. Going along with others avoids conflict, decreases the risk of rejection, and we don’t have to spend the time and energy to advocate for ourselves and what we want. We never rock the boat, and there is an illusion that everything is in perfect harmony.
Perfect harmony is just an illusion. It’s a mirage that doesn’t really exist, so stop chasing it and give yourself a break. Learn from my mistakes.
Check the temperature on your “people-pleasing gauge” on a daily basis and make sure you are focusing on yourself first. It’s for your own good and for the good of those you love.
Kindness is only kindness if you are also kind to yourself. 💗
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