“The one thing you learn is when you can step out of your comfort zone and be uncomfortable, you see what you’re made of and who you are.” ~Sue Bird
I’m a people pleaser.
Growing up in an honest, blue-collar home in rural blue-collar towns, I was raised in hard work. Both consciously and subconsciously, I learned how to play my part and fit in.
The entire process of making decisions revolved around my purpose, what others thought, how they felt about me, and the effect I would have on existing status quo. Because it is such a rewarding profession, I chose to become a teacher. Multiple fertility treatments were necessary for me because every woman desires to have a child.
Everything was clear to me. My raft was built centuries before me and carried me along a stream of inevitable. One day my raft fell apart.
The vinyl booth was sticking to my legs as I sat in a diner. I was just finished another fertility procedure. Listening to the ceramic cups clang against each other, I thought about why I was doing this. Was it for me or because it’s what I thought I was supposed to do?
It was then that I knew I had to make an important decision. Either I would lie in the water and allow the current to take me or I’d climb on to the banks and walk my way.
It was difficult to remember. Intuition was fought by training. The conflict between fear and desire was called Fear. What thought would these people have? Would my family or friends feel the same? Are they disappointed? Anger?
My first step on the riverbank was like a newborn baby with wobbly feet. Although scared at first, I decided to follow my heart and walk the path that I wanted. My steps were small in the beginning—little decisions that tested the ground beneath my feet.
Each step brought me more confidence. I began to feel less fearful, guilty, and self-doubt. Slowly I began to regain my autonomy, and chart my own path with intention.
When I look back at my transformation from being a people pleaser to becoming self-empowered I found three key questions that I asked myself before I made a decision.
1. This is it? my Priority?
We are people-pleasers and will sacrifice our needs for others in order to be happy. We’ve been trained to dismiss ourselves for the benefit of everyone else. We’ve been rewarded for being modest, simple, agreeable, and easy. It is difficult to recognize what is most important.
Prioritizing our priorities is key before we can answer yes. This will help you make better decisions. Sitting in that diner booth I asked myself, “Is having a baby my priority?”
My response was shocking and profound. I was trying to get pregnant because that is what was expected of me—as a woman, as a wife, as a daughter. It was difficult to be a mother and have a baby. myPriority
At the same time, I felt relieved as well as scared. This moment of clarity enabled me to make a decision about the future that I wanted. This also meant I had to go against the flow. My “training” kicked in immediately. My decision would have an impact on the lives of those I was close to. How would my decision impact those around me?
Fear can push us into our comfort zones. It’s a deeply ingrained self-defense mechanism. Fear was created to protect and can be used to help when there is danger. Our fear often becomes an exaggerated response to psychological conditioning that people-pleasers have developed.
The backlash we fear if our opinions are different than what the family holds or the accepted norms of society is what keeps us from being free to express our own opinion. We are conditioned to believe that being different is safer, which keeps us from reaching our full potential.
The foundation for self-reliance is realizing that you are in the wrong place.
2. What do you consider important?
It’s not fatal to put yourself first. It’s quite the opposite. The best thing for our health is to be independent and pursue self-fulfillment. Self-actualization is the best way to reach our highest potential. Mazlow’s Hierarchy of NeedsIt is. After I realized having a baby was not my priority, I asked myself, “What is important to me?”
It was a complete mystery to me. It was difficult to find the answer. This was a completely new way of thinking. I wasn’t used to focusing on myself. There was a lot self-doubt in my life. My desires and expectations fluctuated. It was a difficult task to determine who I am and what my goals are.
It was hard to focus on my own needs. It took me a while to retrain my brain and create new habits. All the things I was taught had to be changed to suit my new ways of seeing the world.
The first thing that helped me transform was to clarify my values and prioritize. What was most important to me became clear. To be the person that I wanted to become, I had to take personal responsibility and strive for continuous improvement. I set higher standards for myself and for others.
It was easy to see when people were using me and not doing my work. People could manipulate me to gain their own ends. When I understood my core values it became much simpler to advocate for them.
Whenever I was faced with a decision, I asked myself, “Does this fit with what I value? What is my value in this? Is this a positive contribution?” This created a filter through which all my decisions were placed. This filter allows you to take the best decisions for yourself.
Clear communication about our priorities will help us achieve our goals and dreams.
3. What will my feelings be after making my decision?
Our conditioning can lead us to be people-pleasers and worry about others. It’s crucial to stay focused on ourselves and our priorities. The new muscles are being developed.
It feels strange and incongruous to put ourselves first. We have been told that this is unprofessional and rude. This keeps us in the uncertainty of worst-case scenarios and freezes our minds. The scenario must be simulated and the questions answered.
Do you know how I will feel if you say yes?
Do you feel guilty if I don’t say yes?
In my case the questions were, “How will I feel if I continue the fertility treatments? How will I feel if I stop?”
The treatments were making me feel out of control and I was able to take back my health. This would allow me to enjoy my writing more and make time for my husband. If I kept the treatments going, everyone would be happy but me.
I realized that I didn’t need to have a baby to be fulfilled. It was then that I realized the truth. It was now time to put an end to this. I felt relieved to have made the right decision.
What if others are disappointed by my choice? For sure. Are there others who disagree with you? Yes. My self-awareness has given me peace. Fear was replaced by freedom.
People-pleasing is not what I do. Be thoughtfully selfishIt is possible to be self-aware. Being selfish has its virtues—self-awareness, self-confidence, self-fulfillment, self-care. These are all good ways to be selfish.
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Being thoughtfully selfish allows you to become a happier, more compassionate, and loving person. You will feel happier, healthier, more confident, instead of worrying about how others will perceive you.
If you give yourself permission to concentrate on your needs, you’ll be the individual you have always wanted to be. You don’t have the power to please everyone, but you do have the power to please yourself.
Naomi Yaw, an empowerment coach helps stressed out people pleasers set healthy boundaries and express their feelings of no. Her People Pleaser’s Toolkit has helped hundreds of people reclaim their time, money, and sanity. Naomi is now a self-employed entrepreneur, she has published a book, traveled extensively, and her husband of 22 year, David, stopped pleasing others. Find out more about how to become a successful entrepreneur. Thinkingly SelfishVisit www.naomiyaw.com
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Tiny Buddha published the post Three Questions Everyone-Pleasers Should Ask Before Making A Decision