I am a recovering people-pleaser. That means a couple of things: first, I intentionally (my actions) and emotionally (my thoughts) set boundaries and expectations for the give-and-take between another person, with all their feelings and needs, and myself, with all of my humanity.

Second, I am working towards clearer understanding that my interactions with someone and then my reactions to that connection are completely dependent on my own needs and feelings. However, that person’s needs and feelings are NEVER dependent on my interactions with them or my reactions to them.

That bold statement sounds harsh, right? Because we should all react to each other with kindness and love so that the world can keep spinning on its happy axis. Okay, sure. But the larger world view is that each one of us is in singular control of our own thoughts, feelings and convictions. Ultimately, we create our circumstantial experience, and whether life is positive or negative.

Unless I take the time to practice and perform the mental exercise of separating my happiness from someone else’s contentment, I run a serious risk of falling back into the damaging thought-trap of my actions or non-actions equals their happiness or unhappiness.

That emotional argument sounds almost scientifically proven, but you and I both know it’s a load of crap. The truth is that their own seeds of happiness and joy and fulfillment is not yours or my responsibility to plant or protect.

people pleasing

We do not possess superhuman capabilities to heal the scars of hurt or to slay the demons haunting the mind of someone we love. No matter how big we smile, no matter how hard we hug, no matter how often we show up for someone we love – all of their frustrations and difficulties, all of the spots that are sore and all of the cracks that need filling, will still be there, waiting to be repaired.

The only person qualified enough to fix and fulfill themselves is themselves.

Again, a concept that sounds so simple, but it is so difficult to understand.

We can shower love on people, but the only way that love is going to absorb and grow is if they choose to let in the light, and cultivate the fruits of happiness within themselves.

A recovering people-pleaser, I feel confident in saying that we are the most exhausted breed of human on the planet. People pleasers spend their lives pouring energy into other people, assuming that their presence is powerful enough to defend against negativity and capture all the positivity someone else needs. A crusade of that size, feeling responsible for the happiness of other people, is not a burden anyone can carry. Taking care of others before yourself is exhausting work with unrealistic expectations – that are never fully met.

Go ahead, my people-pleasing sister or brother, rest.

Let go of the assumption that your worth as a good person is directly connected to the happiness and joy that other people experience when they are around you. The gift of your presence and your spirit filling others up is a bonus to their joyful living, not a requirement.

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