A few weeks ago I slipped and fell on some ice. It wasn’t graceful. My feet flew out from under me and I landed directly on one elbow. It hurt like hell and still does.
This post isn’t about the fall, but rather the fall was a metaphor for my own slip in my life.
You see, the thing with people in the helping profession is that I believe we fall into a trap of putting a “should” on ourselves. That we should have all of our shit together. I mean, we help people get their shit together, so we must have ours tied up with a pretty, glittery bow.
And God forbid if we don’t have it all together, let’s not tell anyone. I mean, who in their right mind would hire someone to help them if they don’t have a very well put together, if not perfect life, business, marriage, etc.?
Now, I’ve never been one to hide my struggles and scars. I’ve told you all about my eating disorder, my divorce, my recovery from alcoholism and even wrote about working on my marriage recently. But, there’s one thing that I cringe when I think about talking about. I’ll get to that in a minute.
One of the common attributes in the women that hire me is that they are people pleasers. They run around saying yes to everyone, feeling miserable all the while. They apologize for not doing it right, and many times silently blame everyone else for their unhappiness while they are the ones choosing to say yes when they really don’t want to. And in a warped way of thinking, these women don’t even stop to realize they have a choice. It’s not their fault—it’s just all they know. In an interview I did with Brooke Castillo, she said, “People pleasers are fucking liars. They would rather lie to make someone else happy than say what they really mean”. And I agree.
I also think women do it as means to feel loved, accepted, validated and safe. And by all means, there is nothing wrong with wanting all of that.
I used to be a chronic people pleaser. I frantically either made up what I thought people wanted of me or found out for sure in order to please them. It was exhausting on every human level. Seven vigorous years of self-help later, I’ve transformed into my real self and rarely say yes to things that are hell nos. Managing my people pleasing has totally and completely changed my life for the better.
Back to slipping on the ice and smacking the ground with brut force…
Here’s what I know to be true for me: I have a great life. Awesome even. I am always doing my best to walk my talk. I even have a chapter in my upcoming book entitled, “For God’s Sake Stop Apologizing and People Pleasing” (which for the record, was originally titled, “For Fuck’s Sake…” but my agent asked me to change it for the time being.) Needless to say I’m passionate about helping women to STOP people pleasing when it’s not serving them. So when it happened to me and I caught it, I was slightly horrified for a bit. Embarrassed. Guilty.
But, truth be told, even though I’ve come a long way…there’s still that small part of me that is that 7th grade band and bowling team kid with braces, knobby knees just wanting the cool kids to not make fun of her.
Which is why it makes sense that recently I took on way too much than I can handle.
My roller derby league needed an events chair for their board. I knew I could help. I’m goooood at helping. And I’m uber-productive. And on the list of “why I need to be on the derby board” was honestly—that I wanted everyone to like me. In the back of my mind I figured I had a better chance of winning everyone over if I helped. Somewhere along the line I bought into the belief that it was too much of a chance to rely on just showing up and being me. I needed a guarantee.
So, I slipped. Both literally and metaphorically.
And after a couple of months with that board position, reality struck me down. I had to admit to myself and to them that it was too much for me to handle and I had to step down. And again in walk embarrassment, guilt with a side order of shame.
Bottom line: We’re all human. We all do the best we can and we fall down sometimes and make mistakes. We all have feelings that pop up or sometimes hit us over the head.
Do you do this? Do you either KNOW what your limits are and sometimes pass them up anyway, to be bitten on the ass later? Or maybe you are in a place where you are trying to please all people, all the time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.