I hope you all had a good amount of pleasure in your week.
As you know, I have been writing a lot lately about the importance of not living a life of people pleasing or in a victim mentality.
Because it is SO important for our well being and growth for ourselves and ultimately for us to benefit others.
How do we get caught up in these people pleasing and victim mentality behaviors, sometimes for years, without realizing that we are living as a reaction to the needs and wants of others? We make choices to let circumstances and/or other people control our lives. We get out of the driver’s seat and allow other people or circumstances take charge.
The fact is that we make our own choices. There are consequences of these choices. But we don’t have to do anything. Yes, in order to be a loving parent we do need to care for the needs of our children. But, we don’t have to do that. And to have relationships that are meaningful we often need to make investments that might not include what we want to do in that exact moment. But, we don’t have to do that either. We don’t even have to eat or drink water… but there will most certainly be a consequence for that!
(Disclaimer: In this blog I am not referring to oppression from government or other systems, or others being intentionally harmed by others. I am referring to the daily choices made by those of us fortunate enough to have ability and freedom.) I am referring to the strong pull to make ourselves victims.
My message to you this week is: Stop reacting and start driving.
People pleasing can feel so good in a moment. It is a quick and simple way to get a “fix.” It feels good to do something for someone else. It gives you the high of belonging. It looks good to others and often makes you look and feel like a “good person.” It deflects from your own needs, sometimes from conflict or making tough decisions.
It lets you take a nap in the passenger seat while someone else drives. But, the consequence is that some day you might wake up and have no idea where you are or exactly how you got there.
Giving allows you to stay in the driver’s seat. You get to use your car and your fuel to serve others. People pleasing is like tossing the keys to an unhealthy relationship, to a decision that doesn’t honor your values, to circumstances that don’t serve you, or to comfort to avoid doing hard things. Giving is a mindset of gratitude, even when you do your not-so-favorite things for those you love or for the greater good. Giving is getting to, not having to.
Sometimes we are driving but circumstances ride along with us, and often we can’t control it in the moment. But, we can choose to let them ride alongside us with an open heart. We can choose to allow ourselves to feel through these circumstances in a real and authentic way. Or, sometimes we to make them sit in the backseat, accepting them as there but not letting them take the keys.
Getting in the driver’s seat of your own life benefits goal setting and reaching. This kind of mindset shift helps you focus your energy away from finding excuses and instead to creating new routes in your brain toward gratitude and acceptance. You start to believe that you are making the choices as to how to feel through and adapt to circumstances. You can accept reality and that negative emotion is part of life. You can start to believe that the world is FOR you, not AGAINST you. This positive mindset will lead you to taking action.
You will believe that you can choose who you spend your time with and what you spend it doing. You can own that you chose your goal. And, I know— you don’t always get to choose to do exactly what you think you want at all times. But, you don’t even have to take care of your kids, do the laundry, go to work, or drink water. You choose to in order to experience some joy or sometimes to avoid some pretty negative consequences. But, it is still a choice.
And then sometimes you choose a ride from someone you trust to get a break. You might need to recover, rejuvenate, or heal. You can choose to get in the passenger seat through honest reflection and trust, because it is better for you to let someone help you. This choice is action, not reaction. It is self care.
I have settled in to people pleasing and have adopted a victim mentality many different times in my life. Lacking self awareness to know what I really want or knowingly agreeing to do many things that didn’t honor my wants or needs. This resulted in either silently suffering or vocally complaining to others. I realized that through people pleasing I was making myself believe I was a victim of others- even when I was agreeing to do the things they asked! AND, I realized I truly wouldn’t want someone doing all they can to please me if it didn’t serve them well.
So, I grabbed the keys and decided that I would choose my life. I started with identifying my values and organizing my priorities accordingly. I started saying “no” to decisions that don’t serve me so that I can have more energy to intentionally serve others. I am learning to accept the consequences of living my life of choice.
It is most certainly not easy. Who doesn’t want to take a nap while someone else drives? Many times we all would much rather blame someone or something else than take ownership for our thoughtless or people pleasing choices. Sometimes the consequences are sad, hard, uncomfortable, or awkward. We will not arrive and will often get way off course. But, we can use our tools, our internal GPS, to get back on track.
It would be inauthentic for me to neglect to mention that my internal GPS is set by God. But I am thankful that He gives us free will on this earth. (And this is a whole different topic that I would love to discuss with you if you are ever interested!)
It is not about always knowing the route, but still keep driving. Pick up your friends and hitchhikers when they need rest. Grab a ride with a trusted friend when you need a break. Live in action, not reaction.
And keep finding all the joy, smiles, and pleasure.