My life is incredibly rich. It’s rich in love, friendships, family and a plethora of other amazing and wonderful things.
In reflecting upon my week, I thought I would take a break from the relationship advice according to Ted and Lauren to talk about something that comes up for me a lot, something that makes me feel so incredibly exposed that I cannot believe I’m even going to admit to it (though it’s so obvious, you probably already know):
Wanting to please people. Like, all of the time. And, oops, sometimes doing it at the expense of my own happiness.
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Lauren Lobley and I am a people pleaser.
Well, that’s not entirely true. But before I defend myself on that point, allow me to explain something very important:
I was doomed from birth. The minute I was born in Canada to Canadian parents, with Canadian siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles who constantly were nice to everyone, always smiling, apologizing for things they didn’t do, and ending all of their sentences with “eh,” my fate was sealed. Ok, maybe not that last point.
But come on, people! Let’s face it: don’t we all want to be liked? Don’t we all want to be loved?
Yes. We do. But some of you are much better at knowing your boundaries. You know when to be tough, when to be nice, when lines have been crossed, and when you’re compromising yourself in a way that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
My dear friend, creator and star of P90X3, Mr. Tony Horton, recently came out with his third book called The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life. He was gracious enough to let me interview him about the book last Sunday, which was conducted post workout, in his living room, while sipping on post workout protein shakes. Obviously.
The article will be published very soon, so look out for that. I’m working on writing the first draft. A minor detail.
Anyway, I was reading a chapter in the book on Friday that touched on the negative voices in our heads that keep us from achieving the things we can do. The ones that tell us that we’re not good enough, we can’t, and so, we don’t. I’m fairly confident that we all have a voice like that, and it tries its hardest to keep us down.
The encouraging news is that everyone has these voices – even the most successful people. But what these successful life livers do really well is to push through the negative voices until they get to – and can listen to – the positive ones.
As I read this section of the book, cozied up on my white sectional couch in the living room, bundled up in my green fleece blanket, sipping on some ginger tea, the sunlight glistening through the window, I quite literally stopped in my tracks. I put the book down. I took out my journal. And started writing. Here is what I wrote:
Things that hold me back:
Fear of not doing something right and getting laughed at and then, as a result, never being taken seriously again
Fear of wanting to be perfect
Fear of not being good enough, not knowing enough
Fear of there not being enough (scarcity mentality)
Keeping myself in the “other” category (like walking into a fancy restaurant and feeling like I’m a fraud, I don’t belong there because my bank account isn’t as full as those sitting all around me. And when it is, I’m sure to find another reason why I shouldn’t be there).
I’ve been told many times that I’m a people pleaser, that I need to be tougher.
Ok fine. I admit it. I am a people pleaser. But the truth is, it makes me feel good to know that I’m the reason for someone’s smile/good humor/being impressed/feeling less stressed/etc.
So I don’t think being a people pleaser is necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s only bad if you do things at the expense of your own happiness.
And that last line, my friends, is the key.
The truth is, I like to go above and beyond. I like to exceed people’s expectations. I don’t mind doing things for free if the situation calls for it. I like to be the pleasant surprise in someone’s day, leaving people scratching their heads wondering why someone would do something so nice, and for no reason other than because they wanted to make someone smile.
That is what I like to be for people, and honestly, that is how I always want to be remembered.
But how do I bring that attitude, those qualities, that sentiment, into other areas of my life, like business? Negotiating a salary? Being asked to do something I really don’t want to do because, well, I’m the kind of person who is expected to say yes? How do I find my voice there? How do I make it ok to say no? How can I be ok with the disappointing look in someone’s eyes when I say no? How do I not judge myself? Question myself?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I’m still working it out. But I’m thinking it begins with taking it one situation at a time. Checking in with how I feel, and honoring what is best and kind for me first. Because, let’s face it: I cannot be kind and loving toward anyone else if I’m not kind and loving toward myself first.
If you’re a people pleaser like I am, and you find yourself in the throes of a decision that risks putting you and your needs second, here are 7 things to remember to get you through it:
You cannot please everyone all of the time. Seriously. You really can’t.
When you try to please everyone, you end up disappointing almost everyone, especially yourself. Think about it. You say “yes” to 5 different things and as a result, you cannot not possibly show up as the best possible version of yourself. How could you? You’re spread too thin! And then you probably end up late for something or some deadline, which makes you look flaky, causing you to be upset with yourself. Listen to your instinct. It will never steer you wrong. Say no when you don’t want to say yes. It makes sense. It’s the stronger and wiser thing to do.
Like it or not, everytime you say yes to something or someone, you are unwittingly saying no to someone or something else at the same time. That means all this time you spend trying to be a “yes” man or woman is totally bogus. So choose your “yeses” wisely.
This one stings a little, but it’s the truth: being a people pleaser is a little annoying (unless you’re the one benefiting from it, of course). It’s exhausting to be around. No one has that much energy, not to mention free time. People know that. So cut it out.
Here’s a crazy concept: who says saying no to someone, or asking for a salary increase, or whatever it is, means you also have to be unkind? Um…no one. You can say no while still being kind. You can ask for a salary increase politely, without yelling. And when you approach these situations in that manner:
People will respect you more. And as an added bonus, people will trust you more, because they know that you are not the kind of person who says yes to something you don’t want to do, nor are you someone who asks for something you don’t truly deserve.
And finally, as a kind hearted person who says yes only when you want to, you’ll be more focused on things you actually want to do, putting you in a better mood, and making you a more successful person.
So go ahead: spread that kindness, your big smile, and all of that love into the world. Just be sure to save some for yourself first.
Your people pleasing friend,