I’m an only child. My mother was 42 when I was born. Perhaps it was because she waited so long to get pregnant or her unhappy marriage, but it was obvious I became the light of her life. I can remember her telling me as a little girl, “I want everyone to like you.” There were times after family events that she would criticize me because I just wasn’t funny or talkative enough.
It was a message I heard oh-so-well. Matter of fact, trying to get everyone’s approval haunted me throughout most of my life. I didn’t always acknowledge the power it had over me. It all came to a head when a new manager was hired back in the late 90’s. I had this instant “knowing” that he didn’t like me–right from the beginning. The biggest problem was–I reported to him.
I did my Jane thing — trying to change myself, hoping he would like me if I did this or that. When it didn’t work, I’d try something else. Within a few weeks, I was crushed to learn he decided I wasn’t “strategic enough” and hired someone over me.
I took it all very personally–I hired a coach to help me deal with the situation. One of the things she told me was that he was my soul mate. Huh? She went on to explain that a soul mate is someone you learn from. I was really p–sed that everyone else seemed to get romantic soul mates and all I got was him!
There were times when I threw my hands up in the air in frustration. “Help me out here, God–what IS it I have to learn?” I guess I’m a slow learner, because it took me several years (six to be exact) to understand some of the things my coach had told me–what I had to learn from this man.
So, even though it took awhile, I finally got it–I was enough just as I am. I needed to understand that I had to just be me and didn’t need to change myself to fit anyone’s expectation (it doesn’t work anyway). After spending a life time getting people to like me–I met my match with him. It was a hard lesson — but it eventually released me from a lifetime of having to anticipate what others wanted. I finally found freedom to just be me!
People pleasing is a “disease” that a lot of women suffer from. What about you? Is this something you struggle with? Have you overcome it or are you still troubled with it?