3 Things I Realized When I Stopped People-Pleasing and Let Myself Receive

“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.” ~Brene Brown

We do this to make others happy, which is the truth of needing to please. We will sacrifice everything and anything to put a smile on another’s face and lighten their load, while ours keeps building.

The only problem is that while helping others makes us feel good, it’s almost addictive until we are burnt out. The problem is that giving to others and pleasing them starts out as a result of anger.

I’ve been there!

There was a time when I used to come up with a thousand reasons why I couldn’t leave the house. It was my dream to go to yoga and be a mother, wife, friend and entrepreneur for an hour.

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However, my priority was keeping the kids happy. So I did my best to keep them from throwing tantrums and made sure that my husband and I had delicious home-cooked meals every night. When the children were sleeping, I used that time for some work.

I found it boring to do the same thing every day. Every day, I was complaining. I felt miserable and uneasy.

The days went on and the days got longer. I began to feel tired. These tasks seemed mundane and unending and started to wear me out. I’d lash out at the washing machine or slap together a half-assed attempt at dinner. And I wasn’t just overextended and resentful in my home life. I was being taken advantage of by my clients, while my friends took my energy.

I kept showing up for everyone around me—striving to keep the peace, to keep them happy, while I was worried that I might let them down or wasn’t living up to their expectations. I realized that all of this was my fault.

The stupidest thing that I’ve ever done was to deny myself sixty minutes of Yin Yoga class. This still seems absurd today. But at the time, I couldn’t see any solutions. I had tunnel vision and it didn’t revolve around me.

I felt like I didn’t deserve the break.

I felt responsible for everyone around me.

It was unclear what my thoughts would be if I went out of our home for an hour, and how I would return to the house I had left my children with my husband.

My husband returned home each evening and I became an emotional wreck. Being the problem solver that he is, he encouraged me to go and find a class—as if it was that simple. I thought, “What does he know anyway? He has no idea about all the things I still have to do.”

However, I came to realize that he was wrong. I needed a rest, so I was able to let go of all my fears and accept it.

It was much easier than I expected to find a class. There was a lot to choose from, and many different types. A Friday class at 4:30 pm was my choice. It was only five minutes away by bike.

It was me and two others who walked through the yellow doors that I found, along with a smiling yoga instructor.

Oh, how I relaxed. It was a yin-restorative exercise, so I laid down on my mat. For what felt like a lifetime, we sat there. I spent it fighting with my mind to not think about what might be happening at home, my to-do list, my kids, the grocery list, my work… Thankfully, we finally got moving and I started to tune into the music.

Six poses were taken of deep stretching and rest. It was an exercise in surrendering rather than extending each pose.

While we were in the standing position for about five minutes, our minds focused on how I could allow my limbs and muscles to relax. To avoid collapsing required every ounce my concentration.

Big belly breathes were taken in order to fully fill my lungs, and then out to soften.

The yoga teacher came around and massaged our backs, necks, skulls during the last fifteen minutes of the session. Then she pressed her two hands gently on my shoulder, as though pushing me down into the ground with her warm arms. As she left, tears began to stream down my face.

My mind was completely surrendered, I let go of all my worries and anxieties and allowed her to touch me. This was a powerful moment that made me feel happy and peaceful. Literally, I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be back with my family minutes later.

I was able to transform my life as a mom and wife through that class.

Since then, I was a regular visitor to the temple every week. It was easy to connect with my breath, and me. It was because that hour of reset every week helped me to refill my cup and changed how I showed up for others and myself.

My daily chores didn’t bother me anymore. I was able to show more love and affection to my children, partner, and family. It gave me a new sense of energy. It was a feeling of rebirth that I felt when someone needed my help. I could give it because I wanted, not just to complete another job.

After I had learned to give and receive and let go of all my need for control, I found that other things I wanted were often denied to me, such as going on a walk or meeting up with friends. Here is where it became difficult for me to look deeper into what it meant to be a receiver. Here’s what I discovered.

Accepting help

It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help or receive it, and I don’t need to prove myself or my worth through giving.

It felt as if I had to do everything by myself, without the help of anyone else and driving myself insane. People would make kind gestures to help, but I would often shut them down with an “I’ve got it covered, thanks.”

After I told him I was running out of time, my husband took over washing the dishes and almost threw me out the door. He was doing the dishes, and I felt guilty.

It has been three years since I first thought it was just a once-off deal. It has lightened my load, and our relationship has been better because I no longer feel like I’m the one doing all the things.

To accept help means to have an open and honest exchange with someone who is looking for support. Take it.

Recognize Compliments

Too often I would deflect from people who said something kind to me. This made me feel uncomfortable and forced me to question my ability to perceive the truth.

I didn’t feel like I deserved a compliment because I didn’t see myself like others did. I didn’t feel worthy of being praised, so I brushed it off with, “No worries, it was nothing,” “I would do it for anyone,” or “This old thing? I bought it on sale five years ago.”

It taught me to accept compliments and to celebrate who I was. At first, I believed that complimented people looked no like me. They were more successful than I was. But, compliments were praise. We all deserve to be heard, acknowledged, and seen.

Realizing I’m Not Responsible for Everything

My greatest lesson was learning to not try and control everything. My mental and physical well-being was affected by the burden of responsibility that I felt I had to fulfill everyone’s needs.

The control was released and things began to occur without me being involved. I was able to look at how other people could take on responsibility for our mutual needs. I was able to make investments in my health and well-being.

Instead of manipulating and fixing things, over-giving or fixing them, I stood still. It was clear that we all share our energy and life is a two way street. This allows us give with a full heart and is far more rewarding than giving from a place of obligation and fear.

To open our hearts to receive is better than to give all we have. Giving without being present is a sign that we do not fully care for others or ourselves.

We all love to support the people we care about, but we need to receive just as much as we give, creating a balance that never leaves us feeling drained or that we “should” be doing something.

Are you unable to accept? How can you relax and let go?

About Lizzie Moult

Lizzie Moult is a Writer, Storyteller & Educator at www.lizziemoult.com. She illuminates the energetic dance between our minds and bodies and what it takes to trust ourselves fully – Basically, she wakes up people’s feelings and gets them in touch with the boundaries they need to draw. She’s also the author of The People Pleasers Guide to Freedom and created the FREE People Pleaser Personality QUIZ to unlock your habits.

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Tiny Buddha’s first post, 3 Things I Learned from People-Pleasing and letting Myself Receive appeared on Tiny Buddha.

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