A Moment of Honesty: People Pleaser, pt. 1

Caught somewhere between cavalier disregard for the thoughts of others and the need to make everyone happy. That's where I am. That is my struggle. It's fun to spitefully say "HI HATERS!" but harder to not let them get under your skin. I, ladies and gentlemen, am I people-pleaser. 

This is such a huge topic that I found it necessary to break it up into two parts. I think we all have people-pleasing tendencies but some have them worse than others. As laid-back as I can be, I tend to have a "Type A" personality. Yes, little bit of a perfectionist. This perfectionism overflows into every aspect of my life. My thought process when it comes to other people is often like this: "Somebody not happy with me? I must have messed up! Always, always blaming myself. For a while, blogging made this so much worse. It's hard to open up on the internet, especially when so much of blogging seems to be "look at how perfect and picturesque my life is!" It's an escape almost. We relish in the narrow perspective that we're given. We forget that human nature is ugly. It leads to covetousness and rampant consumerism. I got caught up in this for a little while but if there's anything that I've learned in my relatively short life it's that people long for relationships. In this ever-increasingly digital world, communication is a lost art. We monitor our friend and follower count and should anybody fall off of our bandwagon, it's an unmitigated crisis. It needs to stop.

I did a reader survey the other day. (Which is still open if you're interested!) It took a lot for me to be able to look at some of the results. It's part of marketing, I know, but it's so hard not to take things personally. Some of the responses were incredibly kind, some made me laugh, some were just plain weird, and some were actually kind of mean. Ah, anonymity. To be one of those who can take anything and everything with a grain of salt... Nope. Not me. Too relationship-oriented. I wish I could share with you all the secret to guarding your hearts but unfortunately, I'm still on my way to learning how to do so. I get upset pretty easily, and although working through the bondage of being a people-pleaser is a long process, I've learned a few things along the way. Hopefully they'll be helpful for you:

1. There is no shame in unplugging and going off of the grid, even if just for a few hours. Put the phone down. Go outside. Walk around the mall. Browse through your local library or bookstore. Come back to center. The advice for computers acting up to "try turning it off and turning it back on again" works for people as well. Get away from the noise and your perspective will shift. Force yourself to think and reflect upon what's really important and everything else will shrink. We have this idea that if we deactivate our Facebooks, stay off of Twitter, and get rid of our Instagrams, we'll somehow miss something. At this point we're so used to being privy to the lives of others that their little moments with no relation to us whatsoever have this level of importance that they have historically never had. It's a LOT to take in. It's the bane of our generation and it will only continue to get worse. Since we have no power against the inevitable evolution of technology, we need to change the way we react and interact. Make it a point to prioritize phone calls over texts, coffee dates over Facebook messages. Once you begin to separate "friend" from "acquaintance" and realize who is important, you'll have a lot more peace in your life.

2. Accept the fact that you cannot control what others think of you. Live without regrets. It's difficult to stick to your convictions, especially if they're particularly unpopular and you don't like to cause waves. I get it, you want to be a generally likable person. Be yourself though and stop worrying about trying to please everybody because let me tell you-- hon, it ain't gonna happen. There will be certain people who just won't like you for no particular reason at all. It's annoying. It's maddening. It's probably one of the most frustrating things for me but it's a fact of life that we can either embrace or spend precious time and energy fighting against. I've been going through this lately with friends. Somewhere along the line, there was a mass exodus of people I was once close to. They didn't give me a reason, they just kind of cut ties. I lost sleep over this. I fell deeper into anxiety and depression. I still don't know how to deal with it because I loved them dearly but I can't force them to like me. I can't force them to be happy for me when I'm happy or to properly comfort me when I'm sad. It's a daily struggle and I have to remind myself of this truth often but when I do, I feel much better. Still sad, but not angry and not hurt. I will cherish the good times for what they were and that's it. Nothing more, nothing less. Seasons of life.

3. It works both ways. Everybody is fighting his or her own battle. This is something that I struggle with because transparency has never been much of an issue with me. Even when I'm censoring myself, there's still not much of a filter there. It's not always a bad thing because it's a "what you see is what you get" situation but I often say things that can bring others down without even meaning to. Before you speak or post or tweet, think to yourself, "am I building anyone up?" "Could this be potentially hurtful?" You have to be yourself and not spend inordinate amounts of time pandering to every single person but you have to realize that through another perspective, the words you speak could seem malicious and once you say them, you cannot take them back. Make it a point to congratulate others on their successes. Replacing the "need to please" with genuine care will make your life more enjoyable. You'll radiate love. Who doesn't want that?

I don't say this nearly enough but I really do love you guys. Thank you for being so supportive of me and this blog. I get excited to share my life and my struggles with you all because it reminds me that I'm not alone. You're all so sweet and at the risk of sounding overtly saccharine, you mean the world to me. Keep rockin'. 

xo,
e.m.

23 comments

  1. That's horrible. I can't believe some people took YOUR survey and said mean things! Don't let it get you down....when blogs get bigger....people tend to say mean things. I don't really understand it but I've heard big bloggers post on this that sometimes when you grow, it allows for more people to be rude and mean for no apparent reason. Keep your chin up.

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    1. Aw thank you love! I'm not too upset, even when things are said maliciously, there is still some constructive criticism to be gleaned from it. I don't mind searching for the nuggets of truth. I honestly learned more from the mean ones than the nice ones. (Although the nice ones were much better to read!) Everything is a lesson.

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    2. I totally agree, nuggets of truth are far different from hateful comments. We have an anonymous survey at work that our co workers complete at the end of the year. Trust me, constructive criticism is different then malicious comments! And I can say you're already improving your site because I only had one comment......respond to readers when you can! :) Xo

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    3. Oh thank you so much! The way I see it, why waste all the time with the survey if you're not going to try to fix things? :) Thanks for the feedback, it means a lot!

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  2. I had an exodus of friends too, and like you said I lost sleep over it and am still sad, but not angry or hurt. It's a really hard thing to go through :[ I'm a people pleaser too and this post was really great to read. I agree SO MUCH with your third point...I need to replace the need to please with actual caring. They're really similar qualities but also vastly different.

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    1. Absolutely! Unfortunately it's easier said than done but it's a lot better for you in the long run.

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