The Perils of People Pleasing
I have never been the kind of person who is eager to spark conflict or garner hostility. I suppose most people don’t deliberately create confrontation, but I’m not referring to a disposition merely not inclined to seeking ill will. In my case, it might be more accurately described as avoidance.
Perhaps it’s due to overthinking. Does everyone exhaust all the gruesome possibilities of unfavourable reactions from others? For every actual conversation, my mind fabricates many more divergent paths, unpleasant outcomes that will surely arise if I say something to ruffle the feathers of my companion.
What should I say? What will she think if I say that? She might be upset. I think she might be mad
at me. Oh no! I said it. I can’t tell if she’s mad at me now. She might be offended. What is she thinking about me now?
Sometimes reason responds quite succinctly: Why do you care?
Because I don’t want her to dislike me. I don’t want her to be mad at me or to be thinking bad things about me, thinking things that aren’t true.
But if those things aren’t true what does it matter? Common sense makes an excellent point. What would happen if someone didn’t like you?
This frank inquiry stuns my spiralling thoughts. What would happen? I don’t know! The world would end probably!!! Or would the answer be infinitely simpler? Maybe nothing would happen at all. Maybe I would still be the exact same person as before but with one other person somewhere out there who didn’t think so highly of me.
When written out so clearly, the importance of the issue seems significantly diminished.
So why is the idea of making another unhappy so unsettling? Why does it fill me with dread to think I may have done something wrong or that even if I haven’t, someone may think I have erred? I know I’m not the only one intent to earn affirmation, but I also know that people pleasing is a perilous path to go down.
Because you can’t make everyone happy and you certainly can’t make everyone like you. The differences among the diverse individuals on earth are so vast that some people simply won’t mesh. Our human inadequacy likewise prevents us from always doing enough to please those around us. What kind of person would I be though if I dulled my own true colours or replaced them with another hue to look more like another? Bending to the wind which blows me at each turn will still not create universal likeability, but it will begin to wash away the fabric of the colours which are uniquely mine. And when I remove the garments hiding my own truth, I may find that they’re no longer there.
I know who I am.
The very core of each being is a mystery grasped fully only by the One who formed every fragile heart. Misperception cannot change reality. Lies have no power over truth.
Confidence is the key that will unlock the door to fearless conversation. Self-belief will supply me with the strength to stand up for myself. And the more I practice these arts, the more I will be able to speak my truth without regret, without guilt and without worry… whether or not it is always pleasing to those who may hear it.