Ahh… the life of a people pleaser. We drone about our lives unpleasantly trying to make everyone happy. We are consistently worried about our place in life and more importantly: where do we fit in? Who is angry at me? Who is sad at me? Who is happy with me? Who is ______ with me? Fill in the blank. We all have our insecurities when it comes to the relationships in life. But some have more insecurity than others. Even narcissists can hide behind their self-interests to protect themselves from their social insecurities. All of our worries seem rooted in our need to be liked, loved and to belong.
I had struggled with this people-pleasing condition for my entire adult life. I set aside my opinions so that I wouldn’t be judged. When in a group of my peers, I would clam up so I wouldn’t stand out. I buried my secrets deep so I wouldn’t inadvertently expose them in any moment of weakness. I inadvertently morphed into a people pleaser so I wouldn’t make a mistake to overexpose myself or dig deep into the secret stash of bad memories. I had done this all to avoid confrontation, awkwardness, hurt and the pain. People pleasing gave me the facade that was strong enough to get me through my life. If you were happy with me, then I would never have to defend myself.
Ending my cycle of people pleasing was a long and difficult journey. I just didn’t wake up and stop the worry. I had to start with being comfortable and confident in my own skin. Loving the physical animal that I saw in the mirror. That took a lot of work. But I needed to love me first. Ritualistic exercise and eating food with a purpose got me to that place.
Once I became more confident in myself, I began the journey of figuring out all of the relationships in my life. I had to ask myself why I wanted to please each of these people. A common theme during that journey was that I was comparing myself to everyone who made up those relationships. I had noticed that by my comparison, I was belittling myself in the shadows of every person I surrounded myself with. I realized that I was becoming subservient to everyone and the only way to do that is to compare my weaknesses to everyone strengths -I could never win that battle.
A tough change in mindset was in order. I literally had to catch myself midstream self-comparing my image to others and switch it to become selfishly introspective. I had to do this by accepting my weaknesses as strengths left untapped. Just because “so-and-so” is good at this, I reminded myself that if I felt passionate about that, I too would be good at that. I had found that the more I reminded myself as “Jeff Nagle the untapped” and that the only comparison that I have is with myself, the easier it became to refrain from being the unpleasant people pleaser,