It’s early Sunday evening and I’m sitting here in bed reading Gretchen Rubin’s quiz on The Four Tendencies and it has confirmed something I'm not proud of, but I know is true - I’m an obliger (aka people pleaser). Lately, I’ve been trying to cure myself of my tendency to put others before myself as it's become a happiness roadblock. Here's why...
It's hard to live your best life when you defer to others to determine what that is. Likewise, it’s hard to understand what makes you happy if you’re always focused on making other people happy.
Let me pause here and encourage that you read that paragraph again because it’s important. This is the message that has been hammered into my head in the last few weeks and it’s finally starting to sink in.
Apparently Trusting Your Gut is a Good Thing.
I’ve been following Jess Lively for a few years now. She travels the world following her intuition and helping people listen to their own guts. I admire her tenacity to always follow her gut, even when it’s in opposition to what may seem like common sense (IMHO). Her message is simple - let your intuition guide your life. Not an easy thing to when you reactively put the needs of others before your own. As a life-long people pleaser, this takes an effort to change, but it's the work I need to do before I can focus on finding my own happiness.
Mother Theresa Wasn't a People Pleaser
In case it's not obvious, I want to clarify that people-pleasing is very different than genuine kindness and generosity. Quite the opposite. It's the unconscious act of doing things you wouldn't genuinely otherwise care to do for the sake of admiration or acceptance. It's a common behavioral issue, prevalent among people who were raised with a lot of criticism or high expectations from their families. We grow up thinking we need to earn love and acceptance rather than cultivate it within ourselves. I'm not proud, or even particularly comfortable sharing my people-pleasing nature, but if it's not addressed, it can be a roadblock to living a happy life - which is the reason this blog exists.
"What stands in the way becomes the way.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
There's so much more I could say on this topic, but for now, I’d like to ask you a simple question…
Have you ever considered that deferring your happiness for the sake of others is actually doing the relationship (and yourself) a huge disservice?