“Hello everybody, I’m Jane and I’m a people pleaser.”
( applause )
Yes, I am. And maybe you were or are too; to some extent, or maybe you were at some point in your life.
I don’t like conflicts. I just hate them. So, I try to avoid them at any cause. My favorite word for years -too many years- was “Yes.” “Yes, I can change my plans at the last minute.” “Yes, I will do that for you.” “Yes, we can go wherever you want to have a drink.”
Sometimes, to be honest, I did use the word “no” as well. For example, “No, I don’t have a problem with that.” That wasn’t a clear no, or that wasn’t a no at all, but I dreaded the idea of what the others could say and even worse I dreaded their disapproval. What would they think of me? I wanted to please everyone. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be loved. I was the one that I didn’t and couldn’t say no.
It was like a disease. The disease to please. I didn’t like criticism and still don’t, so I thought that by pleasing everyone and making them “happy” with nodding my head up and down all the time I could satisfy them and be more liked. Every single time I put myself, my feelings, my needs aside, and tried not to be resentful to others. Not to hurt them. Yes, I thought that by saying no I would hurt people’s feelings.
Did I succeed? Of course not. I didn’t. Because there is one simple truth.
You can’t please everyone. I can’t. You can’t. No one can. And that’s it.
Along with that conclusion, I sadly realized that it was all partly my fault. I was in a way lying to others. I wasn’t honest of what I wanted, because I was afraid of their criticism, that I couldn’t cope with it. And as time went by, it started to cause me a few troubles. Like I couldn’t say “no” to my boss, so I used to take a lot of work that I couldn’t carry through. In my more personal relationships, with my friends for example, where I couldn’t express to them my frank opinion about their matters in order not to hurt them. In my romantic relationships, where I couldn’t say “no” to my partners because I didn’t want to lose them.
So, there you go. I had very low self-esteem, I couldn’t set limits or boundaries to my relationships, I was easily disappointed and unable to even make my own decisions without consulting someone. I was afraid that if I was saying “no” or disagree with someone I wouldn’t fit in. Even the slightest criticism gave me panic attacks. And all of these feelings, negative in their majority, made me physically and mentally fatigued.
I was that sweet girl, the one everybody liked. I was convenient, not saying much -or anything at all- agreeing with everyone. I was the boss’s favorite, the perfect friend, and the even more perfect partner. And everyone was happy. Everyone, except me.
It took me some time to realize that I was in fact a doormat. “Come in please, wipe your feet all over me, and treat me as you wish.” Yes, I was a doormat. No, I don’t blame anyone. It was entirely my fault.
It was time to use my most feared word. NO.
I took baby steps, like saying “no” to my friends when they wanted me to go out and I was too exhausted to even move myself from the couch. And -to my surprise- guess what? They kept on talking to me. I said “no” to my boss when I couldn’t have the work done on time and he didn’t fire me. I said “no” to my boyfriend and he didn’t leave me. Of course, they were a few that said that I’ve changed. Yes, I had changed.
And that was it. That little two-letter word set me free.
No, I can’t. Please everyone and I don’t want to anymore. I want to please myself first.
“Hello everybody, I am Jane and I am NO longer a people-pleaser.”