People Pleasing is an Art
I had a disturbing dream the other night. I was lying on a surgical table, and there were strange men standing around me. Apparently I was going to die soon with a lethal injection. These men kept reassuring me it would be over soon, and that all would be okay. They gave me the injection. I said I was starting feel cold. A man named John carted me into another room filled with corpses. He stood to my left and held my hand. I kept talking to him, telling him my arms felt numb and that I was getting colder and more tired. He said it wouldn't be long now with a very gentle, compassionate look on his face.
I felt the need to keep talking to him even though I was very tired and wanted to let go. I distinctly said to myself in my dream, "Wow! I even feel the need to people please on my death bed!" I closed my eyes in the dream and then woke up abruptly. What does this mean? I believe this dream symbolizes the death of a part of me, perhaps the part of me that feels like I must please others and that I can't be myself. I heard my lesson in life is loyalty. But loyalty to who? Who else? Me. Someone told me she thought it was about being loyal to my daughter, Maddie. That doesn't feel right to me because I believe all people represent aspects of me, just as in a dream.
The characters in our dreams are just aspects of ourselves. I'm actually writing this newsletter for myself, if it comes right down to it, to help me gain clarity about my life direction. One of my greatest fears is to be rejected. I really didn't realize I was such a people pleaser, maybe because I am not that way with my family. After all, my family feels safe to me. I am more of a people pleaser with you, with the public, who doesn't really know and love me, like my family does. Maybe you are just the opposite and don't care what the public thinks, but cares more what your family thinks and you try to please them.
Either way, when we people please, I believe we lose a part of ourselves. For whatever reason, it doesn't feel safe to be authentic and express how we really feel. So for me, people-pleasing has a mostly negative connotation. However, I think that people-pleasing has another aspect to it that is healthy. I'd like to be able to adopt this brand of pleasing others. HOW we people please, just as HOW we give, makes all the difference in the world. There is an art to it. If our intention is to serve others from a place of love and gratitude, and we don't resent them for our efforts, then I believe it's healthy people-pleasing.
We need to be careful if we are converting from people-pleasing to self-pleasing. Often, when one
is used to giving to others and sacrificing herself, she tends to become aggressive and angry when reclaiming her need to please herself. Anger is the only perceived way to overcome the hurdle, the gravitational pull of the need for approval. It boils down to this. We all want to be loved and feel loved and accepted. That is why we try so hard to please others. We are afraid that we aren't lovable at our core, and that we will end up alone and lonely if we can't get people to stay with us.
So what is the solution? I can speak only for myself. I must learn to love and accept myself, and I need to do whatever it takes for me to get there, even if that means upsetting other people. As long as I'm not intentionally trying to hurt anyone, then I'm okay. The ironic thing is that once I love and accept myself, I can truly people-please others from an empowered state of being, because I love them, not because I'm afraid they won't love me.
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