I am currently aged 37, and from the age of 6, I began to ‘people please’. This all began because of my experience with the headmistress (she told me that I had embarrassed the whole school because I did not put my flowers in the correct place in a school production). People pleasing has been a way of life for me, not an easy way of life might I add, a painful way of life and mainly because no matter how many times you try to please people you can’t please everyone and neither should you try.
People pleasing involves seeking the approval of others. Sometimes it’s a generous thing. You may be simply boosting someone’s spirits if they are feeling down. In this sense it is more a social encouragement than the general meaning of ‘people pleasing’. The other type of ‘people pleasing’ erodes the self esteem, until you get to the point where you no longer know who you are, what your own opinions and thoughts genuinely are, and your real self gets hidden behind a mask.
I am at a place in my life where I am taking off the mask of my people-pleasing ways. And one thing I realise is, why I people pleased in the first place – to avoid conflict, to avoid the feelings that can come from the ego when people disagree or argue against your experience of reality. Or even more so, you interpret any criticism to not be a critique of what you say or do, but criticism of who you are as a human being. To a people pleaser, to step outside what people have always seen you as, is not easygoing in the beginning. It takes a period of adjustment where you toughen up, and regardless of whether people agree or do not agree, you are then prepared to face the response of reactions of others to who you really are. And in so doing face your own judgements about yourself and others.
Over a year ago I posted a video on you tube about a topic I felt strongly about. It was extremely scary to post because it went against the popular opinion within spiritual circles about a metaphysical teacher and their teachings. As a result of posting the video I received my first backlash of people disagreeing with me. In total, over 200 people disagreed with me, and some of those actually personally criticising not just what I said, but who I was as a person. This was a tough one for me after spending years of ‘trying’ to please people. I had only come across a few times where conflict like this had happened, because people pleasing can tend to make you invisible because you’re wearing a mask that mostly others relate to, the mask you think they would like to see you in. When you remove that mask and express an opposing view or experience, things do and will change.
Removing The Zip From My Mouth
This blog has always been about questioning and self expression – as a vehicle for me to share the real me, the inner thoughts, feelings, passionate opinions and experiences and any intuitive writing that comes through me, but now in 2013, I am beginning to step more out of my comfort zone. I am now prepared to be myself. This means sometimes experiencing conflicting views; sometimes difficult and challenging questions; sometimes going against the grain of popular thought and opinion. This is a place where I question and question and reflect. And like television, people can respond, react or switch the channel if they wish, but my responsibility is now to be me.
My good friend and teacher Michael has repeatedly told me that people will either love you, hate you, or be indifferent, and that you cannot please everyone. I had heard this from him over the past 10 years, but it has not begun to sink in until now. After experiencing people disagreeing with me and my self expression on ‘You Tube’, this blog and other places on-line, I now realise that it’s important that I keep going; it is important I keep sharing; it is important I keep being me, regardless of what anyone thinks or believes about what I say or do.
I was thinking about the way I write, and the way I speak, and yes, I could go back to being more fluffy; more gentle with the way I express myself. I could take into account every reader’s viewpoints or experiences or opinions of what I am saying, BUT I would still not be able to please everyone. I could dress words up in a cookie dough and candy-floss and soft charming language and still one person out there may take offence, so what is a gal to do? Nothing. I must continue being me, and most importantly I must allow myself to be challenged.