My journey

The people pleaser

The people pleaser or how to be “the right person, in the right place at the right time,” all the time. Mark Snyder

Ever since I can remember I was a people pleaser… The simplest questions such as: What’s your favorite color? Who’s your favorite singer? What’s your favorite meal? seemed like death trap questions that were bound to reveal an irreparable difference that would result in my rejection by my interlocutor. My first and main mission ever since I can remember was to avoid conflict, to be as similar as possible to my interlocutor and to be accepted and loved entirely even if that meant my constant struggle to always get the right and expected answers and reactions.

With time and practice, I learned to be as diplomatic as possible in my answers in order to avoid giving the “wrong” answer to questions that could unite me or separate me from my interlocutor. I learned to listen more than to talk. I learned to analyze the people around me and mind read their thoughts, reactions and feelings. I learned to adapt myself to each person individually and let only one side of me shine, the one that resonated most to the person next to me. I became a social chameleon who changed according to its environment and learned to show only those sides that were most appropriate for each situation.

Being a people pleaser is painful and a hard task to carry. Everyone’s needs and wishes are above yours and you have to learn to juggle with them while ignoring yours. But there is a lot at stake for people pleasers… The need to feel loved and accepted is so powerful, that the efforts that go into making other people happy are groundbreaking. The wish to reach an ultimate, fulfilling, unconditional love is such a strong drive that the people pleaser will almost never stop searching for it. The only problem is that reaching what is thought to be love is never satisfying. Running after love becomes like a mirage. Every time you think you’ve reached it, it slips away even further, letting you think that if you go further, you might reach it then. Once the people pleaser fails to get love, he seeks another love, another mirage, at another distance and once again runs after it and becomes still more thirsty for love because it’s never fulfilling enough for his needs.

Being a people pleaser is exhausting. It is a never ending story and somehow always ends up in failure. And the more you are able to create closure with those around you, the bigger the pressure grows to keep on making it work. The more you “make” someone like you, the harder it becomes to keep it up. The loss is greater. The fear of abandonment and disappointment is greater and the pressure amounts as it becomes absolutely necessary to continue keeping the person next to you happy.

Being a people pleaser torments your mind. You are constantly analyzing what you say, how you say and then how the other person might have perceived it. There is a constant worry that the person next to you didn’t get the message that you were trying to get across and the worry that you might have said something wrong. And then, there is the constant guilt of not having said or done something in the way you were expected to. Everything you say and do stands only in your power and if a relationship fails, it is you, who could have done a better job at understanding the other person or who failed in the end to make it work.

It is hard to say if my environment shaped me this way or if this trait is embedded in my genes. Conditional love and the fear of abandonment surely participate in the development of one’s personality; but at one point when you reach adulthood, you realize that you are your own responsibility and creation. You are responsible for who you are and how you feel and you always have a choice: to accept who you are without putting the blame elsewhere or to change who you are and let go of destructive habits.

At the moment, I continue to be a people pleaser, but the more I grow, the more I realize how crucial it is to leave this need behind if I want to develop the love of self. I will never be able to love myself until I give up on the constant need of being loved by everyone around me. Loving yourself means to accept that you are not perfect in a relationship and that you might disappoint and fail to meet the needs of those around you. Loving yourself means to let go of controlling others and what they think or feel about you. Loving yourself means to accept that you are the only person that you have power over and that you are not 100% responsible of the outcome in a relationship. Loving yourself means letting go of people who are toxic in your life and who don’t deserve your constant approval and recognition. Loving yourself is giving yourself exactly what you need so that you don’t go looking for someone else to give it to you. Loving yourself means to keep loving yourself even when you feel rejected or when those around you fail to see you inner and outer beauty. Loving yourself means not feeling the need to please everyone around you…

Artist Credits: Maria Marshall

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