This weekend, I confronted something I was avoiding. It was so subtle, that it has been so easy to ignore. Or, I’d look at it every once in a while, and do something small to address it, but then I’d let myself just go back to normal. What I confronted was my tendency to people please!
Let’s clarify what people pleasing is. It is not simply being kind, or doing things to help others (although that is part of it). Rather, the term itself comes with some baggage. It really means, doing things for other people in order to get love, receive recognition, avoid conflict, or not take responsibility. People pleasing is different than being kind, because it comes at the expense of one’s authenticity, and often at the expense of taking care of oneself. It comes from fear of not being liked or not being good enough in some way, rather than from love. Not to say that people pleasers don’t care about the people they are helping, of course they do, it’s just that that’s not the root of the motive behind the action.
Now, I’m not a huge people pleaser. I don’t have a terribly difficult time saying no to things, when I know I’d rather be doing something else, or need to prioritize my own health or life. I don’t often over-do-it on being nice, to make sure that someone likes me. And, I would say I am pretty freakin spectacular at communication. And yet…I got stuck in it. It was subtle and sneaky. I realized I was doing things for a friend, not because I totally wanted to, but because I felt like I couldn’t handle having the conversation around saying no. I was afraid our friendship wouldn’t stay peaceful, or I wouldn’t be able to explain myself clearly, or they would get hurt/upset. It was just in small ways, but I felt it building up in my voice with this person. I felt restricted, and we were starting to argue with each other anyway.
Long story short, after sharing this with my friend, we had an argument, but all in all, it was great because we were able to understand each other on a deeper level. It was definitely not easy, but it was worth it, and I will be better about speaking up sooner next time.
Then I found myself upset. And it took me about an hour or two to realize why I was upset. It was the people pleasing once again. By the next day, I was already so worried that if I didn’t people please, I wouldn’t be good enough. So investigated, what is that? Why do I think I won’t be good enough if I prioritize myself? And I looped back to an underlying belief I wrote about a few weeks ago: I won’t be loved unless I do better (if you’re interested, scroll to the post from June 13, 2018). This belief is just something that is a habit from past experiences. It is something that I have overcome in many ways, but it still triggers me from time to time.
Well this weekend, it hit me big time. I woke up feeling heavy, upset, mad at myself mostly. I realized, in this case “do better” meant to show up for this relationship in as many ways as possible. And sometimes saying “no”, or doing something that I need for myself instead, felt like not showing up. According to this belief, that would mean I’m not doing better, and that would mean I’m no longer lovable. Uuf.
What’s cool is that, I saw this all happening. And, for a period, I couldn’t step out of it yet. I just saw that I was triggered into this feeling again, I knew it wasn’t true, and yet I still felt shitty. And you know what? That was totally ok. Probably for the first time ever, I was ok with the fact that I wasn’t ok. I simply said to myself, “Ok Jessie, you’re triggered. You know this is not true, and you know you are doing the best you can. And you’re still triggered, and upset. And that’s ok.” And it wasn’t magical, and I didn’t snap out of it - I sat in it for a few hours. It slowly lifted off my shoulders. Now, I know exactly what it feels like, as I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve caught the trigger while it was happening (not after).
So first of all - go me!
Second of all, I love this (even though it was tough), because it’s a reminder that your patterns are your patterns. They are IN YOUR BODY, no matter how much you work on them. They are going to come up, over and over again, until you’ve truly let them go, and even then, they may keep coming back forever, you may just get better at dealing with them.
Third of all, not only do we need to accept the repetitive nature of habits, but we also need to accept that sometimes even seeing it doesn’t make it go away. And it’s ok to be triggered and upset. But if you are willing to look and say, why am I upset right now? Where is this coming from? And perhaps not act on the upset. And perhaps not make any big decisions through this upset. Then perhaps you get to grow through each upset. And perhaps you get to be not only aware of what’s happening when it’s happening, but potentially able to direct it, so it doesn’t take you down. If it’s ok to not be ok, then we allow for the possibility of total honesty, authenticity, and power in all circumstances.
Be willing to see when you are in breakdown. Be willing to be in breakdown. For a breakdown is the only way to a breakthrough. Xo