I probably will get yelled at for being a selfish crazy woman. That’s ok. But for all you middle aged folks out there, you know what I am talking about. Been there, done that.
From the moment we were born, adults taught us to smile for them. As we got older, we were told to share our toys and food with siblings. When we got a job, we were trained to be warm and fuzzy, never say no to customers. Once we got married, we were expected to take care of the family, the spouse, the kids, the pets, the parents, the parents’ parents, the in-laws, the siblings, the kids’ kids. Once again, never say no when loved ones ask for help. After all, you have been trained all your life to please people, to help others, to give, to donate, to volunteer, to share, to care for the young and old, don’t stop now.
What are they going to do without you? You are their savior. You are their only hope to happiness, nobody else can do it. No, no, no, don’t expect them to return the favor. It is unconditional love, remember? You are not supposed to ask for anything in return, that’s not nice. All mighty you holding the happy card.
You won’t dare to say no to family members either, because they will say you are cold hearted, irresponsible, selfish, no compassion, ungrateful, unhelpful, resentful, uncooperative, unsupportive, uncaring, mean and plain old nasty. Wow, that’s unbearable. Who wants to be a bad person?
If somebody flipped the coin, good for you. Somebody actually is helping you instead. Otherwise, the givers keep on giving, and the receivers keep on receiving.
Being able to jump in and help others is a wonderful trait. Unfortunately, when it comes to your health, being a people pleaser can have negative impacts on your life. You are constantly under stress trying to be all things to all people. You are tired, you worry all the time. You feel guilty because you didn’t do more. You get blamed for not being there when you are needed. You are pressing for more time so you can be in different places. You cut your sleep time in half so you can get up early and have a longer day. You eat and drink at unusual hours because your brain needs a distraction from being overloaded. All these can add long term problems to your body. Diabetes being the number one concern, if you don’t die of a heart problem first.
So how do you know if you are a classic people pleaser? Answer these 10 questions and find out for yourself:
1. Do you feel guilty if you say no to a request for help?
2. Are you the go-to person for family and close friends?
3. Do you agree to help even if you don’t have the time nor the money to do so?
4. Are you often late or pressing for time because you are so busy?
5. Are you afraid of being called selfish? That make you uncomfortable?
6. Do you avoid conflict and confrontation? Like not talking to certain people?
7. Do you feel your relationship with friends or family one-sided, that you do all the work.
8. Do you fear people will not like you if you say no?
9. Do you feel people taking advantage of you?
10. Do you feel angry or resentful of the people asking for your help but never say anything?
If you answered “yes” to several or more of these questions, you are a classic people pleaser, like it or not. Time to set take-care-of-yourself a priority and say no to people more often. It would be nice if you can get a little piece of this unconditional love for a change. But life is only fair for those who will help themselves first. (Sadly, I answered “yes” 7 times to 10 of these questions.)
It took me 50 years to realize I was a wrong fit to my parents and siblings. They obviously knew from the beginning. But I wasn’t smart enough to do the right thing for me until I was eligible to join AARP. When that package arrived it hit me so hard I had to wake up. Another day delayed is another day wasted. I have to make everyday count for me.
So what next? Is there a way to get out of this trap? Sure, there is, if you want to go there.
This happened in my world: I snapped out of it and started minding my own business instead of being a help-on-demand dummy.
Don’t make a big deal out of it and beg for forgiveness. Peeling off an old bandage slowly is always painful. Make it quick.
You know what? Besides a few angry people who hated me to their bones, the world is still moving and nobody missed a heart beat since then. (The truth is, we self deceived ourselves into believing that we are so superior, nobody is happy unless we wave the magic wand and make things happen. It is an ego thing.) Reality check – people don’t fall apart because you are not there.
You are being taken for granted by people who need your help, and you know it.
Save your sanity. Freedom is good for your health!
( Don’t blame me, I am only the messenger here. )