Reverb10: Lesson Learned

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

At the risk of sounding slightly haughty, I will go on record saying what I learned about myself this year is that authenticity and integrity matter more than being liked. I am a people pleaser and always have been. When I was a child, getting a good grade on a test was a drug to me – I got to go home and tell my parents “I got an A!” and then enjoy the wash of praise lavished over me. As I got older, I learned that I wasn’t going to be the most popular girl, or the most athletic girl, or the most anything girl really, so I tried to be the best at fitting in wherever I was. With this approach I was perceived as a good listener, a good advice giver, whatever the situation required. This all worked rather well when I was responsible only for myself because ultimately, if everyone else was happy I was happy.

This strategy falls apart dramatically when you add people into your life in a permanent way – spouses, children, employers, etc. You learn pretty quickly that you can’t actually please everyone and that in trying you never please yourself. Ultimately people pleasers like me end up with a huge sense of cognitive dissonance – the world does not work the way you have modeled it in your head and you lose track of who you really are, what you really want, what your own personal interests are and ultimately, you end up unhappy, anxious, depressed or worse.

This year I have spent some time focusing on who I am, what I want, and what this might mean to my people-pleasing self and the people I have pleased in the past. I can’t say I have answers to how to reconcile the woman I am becoming with the woman everyone knows, but I at least have a stake in the ground knowing that when I am putting myself last, I am actually doing a disservice to everyone I think I might be trying to please.

Going forward? I can’t honestly say as this evolution of my outlook on life is taking some time to unfold. At a minimum I can say I will include myself on the list of people I try to please.

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4 thoughts on “Reverb10: Lesson Learned

  1. This is just excellent! Somewhere in the back of my mind I answered this prompt with “I learned to ask for what I need” because, like you, I am a people pleaser too and often leave myself to last if I consider myself at all. Thank you for your great words!

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Reverb10: Lesson Learned | Cari's Raw & Random Thoughts -- Topsy.com

  3. This is a wonderful thought. Very necessary for us all to remember this, and to repeat it to each other when we forget! 🙂

    It’s so easy, the better heart you have, to forget to put yourself on the list of people to care for. And the world will encourage this, sadly. It’s been hard for me to remember that I was not put on this earth to be a cornucopia of whatever other people need–I’m a person too, and I’m supposed to be as important to myself as they are to me. And the worse other people react to this, the more likely it is that they don’t belong in my life. It takes guts to pick yourself over someone else, especially after years of doing otherwise. But it’s never too late to make an improvement.

    You’ve hit on some real wisdom here, and I am certain that practicing this insight will make 2011 rock for you!

  4. Well said! I like the way you write about the evolution of people-pleasing. I had never thought about it quite like that before.

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