I have always been a people pleaser with a huge drive to be liked. I have vivid memories of being a child and getting that rush of endorphins when someone would say I had done well or been kind.
At some point along the way, I grew up and that validation that I was doing a good job got a lot more subtle. No longer a big grin and a “Wow well done, I’m so pleased with your work,” signalled the rush, instead I learnt to hold out for a thank you, someone telling me that I’d made their day, or the confirmation that I am a good friend, am liked and needed. Sometimes even an acknowledgment I’ve done well to clean up and keep 3 kids alive from the husband is enough, though it doesn’t count if I had to fish for it!
When I look back on some of the ways I’ve gone above and beyond for some people it makes me shudder. So desperate to be an incredible friend, daughter, sister etc, I’ve at times put my needs last, had my own mental health suffer carrying burdens and tried my best to help people through the troubles in their life. Sometimes the validation came and it all felt worth it, other times it was all forgotten to suit a narrative that painted me unfairly in a negative light to anyone that would listen. It is hard to accept and swallow as a born people pleaser who has a desire to be liked.
I’ve noticed how much harder it can be once you’ve had children to control the people pleasing need and get the wins. When we are at school, we bond with people based on similar interests and have a whole host of friends from different walks of life. If someone isn’t your cup of tea, you don’t socialise beyond the classroom. When you get married you might move onto couple friends or work friends, but normally still have a good scattering of former friends from different parts of your life.
As soon as you have children, suddenly your main purpose in life is shifted to literally keep another human being alive, which can take a toll. As the fog lifts and you go to baby classes and then school, you might be lucky enough to bond with some others, though there is normally a face or two who rubs you up the wrong way. Perhaps their baby slept through from day 5, chose to eat a rich and balanced diet from 8 months and self potty-trained at 13 months, or so they say in a loud voice.
The more children you have, the less time you get to fill up the people pleasing mug and negative encounters can linger in your mind in the wee hours. It’s hard to just accept some people don’t like you as it goes against every bone in a people pleaser’s body. My 2022 goal though is to ask myself “Is it a big deal?” “Will it matter in 2 years?” For the most part the second answer is no, so I am working hard to let things go and find my people pleasing wins closer to home. As your children get older and start to speak, my word do they pay you back in kindness. To Wilf I am the best mummy if I keep the toilet roll middle for his “arty crafty” drawer, the gratitude fills up that mug and then some.
To help further Anna Mathur has slashed her incredible courses to £12 each so I am going to work in her people pleasing course into my daily routine. No matter how nice you are, someone won’t like your aura, your dress sense or your opinion and that’s just life. Heck, there are people in this world who don’t like Sir David Attenborough so what hope do I have?
Who else is a born people pleaser that struggles not to be liked? Or are you naturally easy-breezy like my husband who literally couldn’t give a monkeys if you liked him or not?