Who comes to mind? I can bet you that, for the most part, whoever you just pictured doesn't care – that's one of the reasons why they're so respectable; they are self-confident, self-sufficient. Now, they're still human and I'm sure they're flattered – for those of you ladies out there that picked me, ahhh-thank you – but the qualities that they embody are not their qualities because they want you to respect them or because they're afraid you won't.
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, caring for people to like us isn't very likeable. Spin that one around your mind those of you who struggle with people pleasing. Further, if I'm going to be honest, people pleasers make me unhappy. There, the cat is out of the bag. I said it.
They don't make me unhappy because I don't like them – heck, all they want to do is agree with everything I say, think, do and am. And I think I say, think, do and am pretty awesome. Its not what they do that makes me unhappy, its the reality that they represent; that, somehow, who they are isn't enough.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Barrett, am I a people pleaser?” Well that's a good question, reader. A question only you can answer.
Most psychologists agree that if only one of the statements below applies to you, then you are...
Is it hard for you to know what you want?
Do you fantasize about a strong person taking over your life and making it work?
Do you find it is difficult to say “No”?
Do you avoid getting angry?
Is it hard for you to take initiative?
I know, I know... “But Barrett, I identify with four to five of those statements...”
Well, grab your hats sports fans, you guessed it; you're displaying the dreaded “people pleasing pattern” - and no, that's not a term I just made up - and I would prescribe a heavy dose of alcohol, a side of self reflection and a healthy portion of perspective.
We can't please everyone. You certainly can't please me, I don't even know you. And I hate what I don't know... so that's about game, set, match on that one. But, if you disagree with everything I say, the fact that we can't please everyone should at least be the one point we can raise a glass on. And when you really think about it, why should we want to?
Pleasing others and finding an identity in the acceptance of those around you comes at the expense of yourself; your individuality, your needs. Do it long enough, and soon you'll find that you have a “you” for every friend, acquaintance and varying UPS man that comes by asking you to sign – probably for something you didn't even order. But what the heck, we don't want to upset him, we'll sign anyway and drive across town to deliver it to the proper address. After all, we're nice, aren't we? Isn't that what this is all about? WE'RE NICE PEOPLE. NOW LIKE ME, DAMINT!
Well, there are nearly seven billion nice people on this planet all searching for something to believe in, someone to love and something cold to drink. All with different needs, longings, upbringings and plans. If everyone one of these uniquely individual people you meet likes you, then who the heck are you?
What do you stand for? If everyone likes you, you can't be standing for much and I guarantee whatever respected individual that came to mind a moment ago definitely stands for something.
Obviously, you are uniquely individual, but a sense of self that is utterly dependent on other people is no “self” at all. We're social creatures, and wanting to be liked is in our nature, but needing to be liked is self-destructive. Needing to be liked reflects a reality that we value others opinions more than we value who we are. Unfortunately, we can get everyone to like us every time we step out the door, but I don't care what kind of life you live, there are times when you won't be surrounded by other people. And, if you struggle with finding your identity outside of others, what does it feel like when you find yourself alone? You're alone with a stranger... and I'm not good at small talk, I don't know about you.