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What It Really Means To Be A People Pleaser In Recovery

Increasingly I have noticed more memes, blog posts, articles, books, and podcasts surrounding the topic of “people pleasing.” People pleasing is a behavior pattern in which someone spends a great deal of their time helping others. They are usually the people you can always count on, they are always reliable, they are never late, and you know if you ask them to do something, they will not say no (unless there is a very good reason). They are true friends, excellent parents, caring co-workers, and completely taken advantage of.

People pleasers go out of their way to help others and it’s not always appreciated.

We are often raised to serve others. We are taught this in school, at church, and through volunteer work. We are encouraged to give our time, energy, money, and sanity to everyone else all of the time. While you SHOULD help others in need, support your family, and be there for your kids, you should also help yourself. People pleasers forget that step and sacrifice their own happiness and wellbeing to tend to others around them. I could write an entire post on why humans people please and maybe I will another time.

But today, I want to tell you about my own experience with people pleasing and hope that it can shed some light on others who may needs it.

It wasn’t until about 2015 when I realized, I was a people pleaser. I went through the most challenging year of my life in 2014 and I found a great group of women who I learned on for support to help get my big girl panties back on and move on with life. In this new group of friend, maybe people recommended self-help books. At first, I was completely turned off, until I realized these books came in fun colors and were writing by women just like me, who dropped f-bombs just like me and were there to talk to me as if I was a friend and not some damsel in distress.

These women called me out on my shit and demanded that I stop being a people pleaser! But how could I stop?!? THEY NEEDED ME! ALL OF THEM! NO ONE COULD GET STUFF DONE WITHOUT ME! OR THEY’LL HATE ME IF I DON’T HELP!

Seriously?? If someone asked for my help and I had a damn good reason for telling them I couldn’t help (like working full-time plus trying to finish my master’s degree), would they really HATE me for saying no? Probably not and if they did, then that’s their problem. In 2017, I nearly killed myself trying to be there for everyone in my life, while also finishing my master’s degree and moving 850 miles away for a job. I was busy AF (did I use that right?) and I will still convinced that everyone else’s shit was more important than mine. I stretched myself into panic attacks and most of the time, it actually caused MORE tension with the people I was “helping” than if I just explained to them in the first place that I couldn’t take on any more at the time.

So in July 2017, I decided to PLEASE MYSELF.

I took a job that I wanted, I moved to the city I wanted to live in, I bought the house I wanted, and I didn’t care what anyone else had to say about it. For the first time in my life, I had to please MYSELF. However, even from 850 miles away, I still send my family/friends things, spend hours on the phone when people need me to listen, and feel GUILTY for not being there to help with my nephews and spend quality time with the people I love.

So now, I am a recovering people pleaser. I KNOW I can’t please everyone and there is no use trying. But, I am still struggling with the “But what if they hate me?!” stuff. While I love you all and will always WANT to be there to help when I can, please understand if I actually say something like “I would love to help, but I really can’t at this time.” Trust me, it’ll be better for everyone in the long run! TC mark

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