Relate with our guidance on mindfulness, love, parenting, and friendships!
“It feels good to be accepted, loved, and approved of by others, but often the membership fee to belong to that club is far too high of a price to pay.” ~Dennis Merritt Jones Like a lot of people, I grew up putting others’ needs and wants first. I learned early that doing things for other people and accommodating their wishes gained me attention and approval. It was only in those moments that I felt good enough and deserving of love. As a child, I liked nothing more than feeling indispensable and being told I was a good and nice girl. This praise was incredibly important to me, as was making others happy. My own happiness did not come into the equation; I was happy because they were happy. I felt loved, safe, and appreciated, in the short term at least. As I got older my people-pleasing went into overdrive. I continually tried to gain people’s approval, make them happy, and help them whenever needed. I hated to see loved ones hurt or upset and felt it was my responsibility to come to their rescue and ease their problems and pain. Before long I became so hyper-aware of others’ feelings that I lost sight of where I ended and where other people began. For many years, I didn’t question why I felt I didn’t have the right to say no to people’s demands. I just assumed this was how my relationships were meant to be. By the time I was in my late teens, however, I often felt lost, drained, and empty. After a terrifying anxiety attack, I realized I’d been unhappy for years. Trying to please everyone had made me miserable and ill, and my relationships felt draining and one-sided. I took a long, hard look at myself and realized I’d become a people-pleaser not simply because I wanted to be a nice person or help others, but due to a specific emotion, an emotion I’d felt since early childhood: fear. I realized I’d given control over my life to other people out of fear. I’d let an emotion steal my life and well-being. When I examined my past behavior it was obvious I’d been compelled to people-please due to a fear of certain situations, stemming from my childhood. I believe these specific fears are the reason why many of us become people-pleasers. Fear of Rejection and Abandonment Inside every people-pleaser is a little child who never felt worthy of love and was afraid of being rejected and abandoned by his or her loved ones. Being good and nice and striving for approval is a way to try to suppress the fear. Children know instinctively that their survival depends on other people. As a child I felt I had to be good all the time—one misdemeanor would be enough to make my loved ones reject me. That’s not to say my family didn’t love me, they absolutely did. But they were often emotionally [...]