I’ve talked a lot about the importance of being yourself. In fact, “Be me” is one of my personal commandments that I strive to live by because it helps me to live my life, not the life that I think that others want me to live just so that I can please people who I really don’t need to be worrying myself about.
Many Baggage Reclaimers struggle with this concept of “being you”. Just as when I say that people unfold, so do you. If you engage in people pleasing behaviour and look for validation and in fact try to suppress who you are so that people don’t form an opinion about you that might cause them to leave / not like you, you’re not being you.
Our experiences teach us a lot about ourselves, who we really are, what we like/don’t like, what we need. When we’re willing to listen, observe, and be on a low Bullshit Diet where we don’t make what everyone else does about us, we can get a sense of who we are or whether what’s happening vibes with our own values and needs, and then act accordingly. Often, we don’t recognise this when we’re in the moment / situation and so a lot of the insights we gain from the on-the-job training of life happens with the benefit of the 20:20 vision of hindsight.
Of course it’s very easy to focus on another person’s behaviour and practically get a PhD in it but this is just distraction activity keeping us on the path of least resistance, often ensuring that we tell ourselves a story that caters to unhealthy beliefs we hold about ourselves, life, and relationships. Each of our relationships, romantic and otherwise, give us a window into understanding ourselves – we get to understand our needs, expectations and wishes including where we need to “be ourselves” and step up and meet these ourselves.
It’s not up to others to tell you who you are; it’s up to you to use your time here on earth to discover who you are and yes, sometimes it happens through discovering who you’re not. Discovering and understanding who I wasn’t comfortable being but putting my energy into finding out what was more befitting of me is what has fueled this blog.
Being you is an ongoing journey and you will always be making discoveries and evolving. It’s a journey, not a destination.
I had a light bulb moment yesterday while we sat in traffic discussing the uncomfortable Boxing Day call between my father and I. After a six and a half month silence, he called on Christmas Day. I’d briefly felt anxious about returning the call but aside from reminding myself not to make drama, Em also told me just to be cool and basically not fawn around him. I’ve been regarded by family and even Em as being too easygoing, ironically with my family, and finally by being me in this call I understand what they meant.
In times gone by, I might have intended to be cool and then quickly slipped into being jovial and conciliatory, because, you know, I’m the person who is supposed to forget and make things easy. The call was awkward but aside from the fact that it should be, it wasn’t awkward because I wasn’t brown-nosing and acting like nothing had ever happened but it was awkward because I wasn’t putting in the bulk of the effort.
As we sat there in traffic, it suddenly dawned on me: yes it wasn’t an easy conversation but just like when I was honest with him in those awful ‘discussions’ before my wedding, I truly felt like me.
I’m not truly comfortable being a People Pleaser who papers over her feelings and presses the Reset Button. That’s not me. I’m not a ‘fluffer’ there to make other people feel comfortable about who they are and their own behaviour. I spent the years before BR pretending that I don’t do getting angry and doing my best to ignore my feelings until they hurt less – this just doesn’t fly for me. I didn’t like who I was.
It’s up to me to be me, it’s up to you to be you, and it’s up to others to be who they are. If you don’t like who you are when you do inauthentic stuff it’s because you’re not being you.
Being me is not leaping in there and trying to hypothesise on what their thoughts, feelings, and intentions are and then attempting to preempt it with good (read: pleasing) behaviour. People and situations unfold.
You cannot possibly discover what the the hell unfolding means if you assume a role in each situation, as you may be assuming wrong plus you’re not being you, unless you is someone who is an actor, facilitator, mask wearer or even doormat.
I saw my amnesia based behaviour with my father so clearly replicated in my past romantic relationships. It’s why I dated (and I use that term loosely) someone for four years who would vanish, call up out of the blue after a few months, we’d go on an “amazing” date, and then The Phantom would be gone again. I didn’t want to ruin the call by asking about the absence, then I didn’t want to ruin the moment or the date. I also feared looking like a “difficult” person and was afraid of “missing out” on the phantom relationship so I stuffed down my feelings and concerns and ended up feeling and looking like a doormat. This isn’t to take away from other people’s behaviour, but it’s difficult for me to argue the case for people not walking over my feelings, if I’m going to do that.
That’s what being you involves – owning your own. When you understand what you accept, even if it’s in a passive way, you can better represent you by making more conscious choices about what you do and don’t accept or do in future.
It’s up to you to discover what you’re comfortable with and to discover what being you looks and feels like.
Sometimes you have to make a choice. I had a few pangs after that call but aside from validating what I did, I also recognise that it’s the People Pleaser within me and it passed. Fast. I’ve done my grieving over these past few months and I feel truly unburdened now. The truth hurt at the time but it’s set me free from a lifetime of what essentially amounts to sucking up and pretending. Why would I do this when I don’t act this way with others?
Yeah you might be like me and get a pang about not rolling out the people pleasing red carpet but you have to compare it with the alternative: Is selling you short and walking over your own feelings a preferable alternative?
Go on a people pleasing diet by identifying your people pleasing behaviour and reducing / replacing / eliminating it. You’d be surprised how much more you approve of you when you’re not putting you on a people pleasing street corner day after day.
Being you means letting people be who they are and allowing situations to unfold instead of trying to orchestrate and influence with what basically amounts to people pleasing behaviour. When you get caught up in being you and living your life authentically anyway, you’d be amazed at how much happier you feel but also how much clearer you see the things and people that matter and apportion your energies in the right places.
Your thoughts? Have you got some ideas for cutting down people pleasing?