I have a confession to make. I’m a people pleaser. I always try to keep everyone around me happy, and can’t stand to disappoint people. I will go to great lengths to avoid upsetting the people around me.
On the surface this may seem like an admirable trait that I should be proud of. However, in reality, it is not. In reality it is actually a huge liability that I need to remain constantly aware of in order to keep it in check.
But isn’t it a good thing to please the people around you? Don’t you want to make people happy?
Yes I do want to make people happy, and yes it is a good thing to please people. But…
…It is not a good idea to make other people happy at the expense of your own happiness. And sometimes I do just that. I’m not the only one. Millions of people remain in unhappy relationships to avoid hurting their children. Millions of people stay in jobs they hate because they don’t want to disappoint a boss who “has been really good to me”. Millions of people go to university and take classes that lead to a profession they don’t want to avoid disappointing their parents.
And all of those millions of people are making huge mistakes!
If you stay in an unhappy relationship for your children’s sake, you aren’t fooling anyone, least of all your children. They will pick up on your unhappiness, and all you will teach them is that relationships will make them sad, or angry, or otherwise miserable, and when they are grown they will start attracting the same kind of relationships into their life and repeat the same patterns.
If you stay in a job you don’t like you will allow it to eat at your soul until one day that boss that has been so good to you drops a pink slip on your desk because the company is being downsized. Now you and your boss both lose.
And if you go to school to become a doctor when you really wanted to be an actor, you’ll just be dooming yourself to an unhappy life in a white lab coat sifting through other people’s bodily fluids. That is if you even graduate, because more likely quit half way through after having spent thousand of dollars of your parents money, or gone into massive debt on your own, and you’ll have nothing to show to it and be an even greater disappointment to them than if you just followed your passion in the first place.
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If you go against your soul, people will feel your negative energy and react accordingly.
But something magical can happen if you remain true to yourself and find the strength to do what is right for you. Happiness is contagious, and when you are happy you will find the people around you become happy as well, even if they are initially disappointed. I had a recent experience in my own life that illustrates the truth of this perfectly.
In the spring I made the decision to leave a job that was in itself soul sucking. I chose to take a position at a small in a little town in the mountains far away from my home. It was a live in position, and early on it was just what I needed. It provided me with lots of time to write, and gave me the opportunity to meet many interesting and inspiring people.
But over time my needs started to change and I began to feel a strong desire to have “more” in my life. I realized that I needed to leave the inn as it was no longer meeting my needs. But I felt a tremendous amount of guilt because I had an agreement to stay until the fall. I did not want to disappoint the owners, as a really liked them a lot. So I struggled with the decision to leave for several weeks.
Finally I bit the bullet and told them that my circumstances hade changed and my needs were no longer being met. As expected they were terribly disappointed. But something else happened.
They thanked me for being honest with them, and said that they only wished I had told them sooner. My relationship with them has been preserved, and I am now free to make changes that will increase my own happiness.
What is the alternative scenario? Well, I could have kept my mouth shut and struggled through into the fall. I would have become increasingly depressed, and maybe even a bit resentful. My employer would surely have picked up on this. They might have ended up talking to me about my low-energy, and in my un-happy state I might have taken offence to such comments and become even more resentful. I would have eventually left the hostel under strained circumstances and no one would have been happy.
You must follow your heart! You heart doesn’t lie. Your mind will play all kind of tricks on you and cause you to second guess yourself, or feel guilt. Taking care of your own needs is not selfish, it is actually the most selfless thing you can do. No one else can take care of your needs for you, and expecting them to places and unfair burden on them.
Your own happiness is the greatest gift you can give anyone., because happy energy creates more happy energy.