People pleasing is something that is second nature to me. When I was growing up, my mother, who suffers from alcoholism, demanded a lot from me. I survived my unsafe, violent and neglectful environment; by doing everything and anything that pleased her. I took subjects at school chosen by her, which I hated. I learnt dancing, because she wished she had done so, which I hated. I wore clothes she liked, but I hated. I lost my identity in pleasing her, only to realise that she was never pleased. So I gave up pleasing her.
When I made the decision to break away from my codependency and and not let my Mum control me, I never realised how deep-rooted my people-pleasing was.
In all of my relationships and friendships, I put the other person first. I watched movies I hated, ate food I hated, adopted beliefs values and opinions that didn’t fit with who I was; all so that the other person would be pleased with me. So they wouldn’t reject me. So they wouldn’t want to hurt me the way my parent’s both had, by choosing alcohol over me, again and again.
In all of my relationships I wasn’t authentic. I wasn’t honest. I wasn’t myself and most sadly, I wasn’t happy. I was resentful of giving so much to others and feeling like no one gave back to me. Pleasing others may have safeguarded me from rejection, but it didn’t safeguard me from loneliness. When no one knows who you really are, because you’re so busy being who you think they want you to be, you end up feeling very very lonely.
When I realised this pattern, I decided to put myself first. The main issue I faced was, I didn’t know how. I was unsure how to be me. I hadn’t really been myself before. I had to work out what I did and didn’t like. What I thought. What I wanted. I had to learn how to be me.