“Quit putting yourself in a little box by trying to live consistently with your past and explaining every little action you take. BE YOU. Fully. In this moment. Independent of what others may or may not expect from you.” ~Brian Johnson
I am a people-pleaser. I want people to like me. I want them to agree with me. It is extraordinarily uncomfortable for me to disappoint people I care about by failing to live up (or down) to their expectations of who I should be or what I should do. I spend so much energy trying to defend my decisions hoping to win approval.
It doesn’t work. It leaves me trapped in a little box of my own making. And even when I manage to meet the expectations of those I care about to the letter, deep down they are still not pleased because a part of them knows I am not bringing my full self to the table. They know that I am still not authentically the person they want me to be—that it’s still an act—and so even a perfect performance on my part still causes disconnection.
This is causing even greater conflict (inner and outer), though, as I move toward trying to live more authentically. My authentic self doesn’t always please everyone. In fact, there’s no one who is pleased by my authentic self all of the time. That’s true for all of us.
It doesn’t make this journey very easy, though. It’s hard enough to change—to be more authentic and real—without also having to deal with the anxiety and self-doubt that comes from disappointing people. There are times that the combination of intense anxiety and real anguish can make me feel like I can’t breathe. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do.
And I plan to keep on doing it. I plan to keep on intentionally, and with full foreknowledge, disappointing people I care about when meeting their expectations of who I should be would mean that I must be less than my authentic self. I plan on continuing to upset people’s view of me by refusing to stay inside the little box of being consistent with my past. I plan on continuing to let go of my need to defend my choices to people who disagree with them when I know I am being true to myself.
This is going to put me through the wringer. There will be many moments when I fall short and go back to my old pattern of trying to please people instead of honoring my own Self. But practice makes perfect, and I plan to keep on practicing until it becomes easier and more natural.
The old way of doing things was slowly smothering me despite the nuggets of praise it earned me in the moment. So even in those moments when it feels like the anxiety of this new way may kill me, in the long run this is me saving my life. I may never have anyone else’s unconditional approval all the time, but maybe … just maybe … I’ll finally earn my own approval. And that will make it all worth it.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.