woman learning to confront someone as a people pleaser

Learning How to Confront Someone When You Are a People Pleaser

“The more room you give yourself to express your true thoughts and feelings, the more room there is for your wisdom to emerge.” ~Marianne Williamson

I have always been a people-pleaser, a trait that on the surface seems positive. Like many of us, I want people to like me, and I do my best to make them feel loved. But when someone is angry with me or feels I’ve hurt them in some way, no matter how insignificant or fleeting that anger or pain is, it crushes me.

Over the years, I learned to value other people’s happiness and expectations over my own. To be honest, I didn’t know how to speak up for myself, I’d been trying to be “likable” for so long. This was especially true at work. If my boss criticized me, I felt I was letting her down, and worked diligently to earn praise.

I became dependent on accolades to feel worthy, but this meant I also plummeted into despair when I didn’t measure up to expectations.
A couple of years ago, I was working at a non-profit with a group of people I truly respected and admired. It was my dream job—I was a publicist for a company that was doing good things in the world, not just trying to make money. I loved this job, and worked hard.

Eventually, I was offered a promotion—a management position, overseeing staff and developing strategy. I was thrilled! This was a tangible acknowledgement of how hard I’d worked, how valuable I’d become.

There were strings attached. The department heads wanted me to continue doing my old job since they didn’t have the budget to hire another person.

I was flattered that my bosses wanted to give me more responsibilities (proving my worth). But I also knew the organization was taking advantage of me by not hiring someone to help, and this was difficult for me to accept and address directly. If they really liked and respected me, how could they think this was a fair offer? I was asked to do two jobs for the price of one.

It gutted me. After all my hard work, I knew I deserved more.
But these are good people, I reminded myself. Surely there’s something I’m overlooking. Am I unworthy of more?

I felt my self-esteem plummet.

It took a few days for me to realize I had to stand up for myself. Nobody else was going to do it. My bosses, who I’d come to see as friends, were taking advantage of me and my people-pleasing approach.

To make things worse, this job was my livelihood. I didn’t know how quickly I could get another job, so it was frightening to think about confronting them. How would it end? Would they fire me if I turned them down? How could I support myself?

I was terrified, but I knew I had to say something. Even if I struggled to find another job, I knew this was a test of my self-esteem. I couldn’t live with myself if I’d just gone along with their plans, pretending it was okay. I had to rise to the occasion no matter how uncomfortable I felt.

I was trembling as I met with my supervisors, the four of us sitting around a table in a sterile conference room. I thought these familiar faces were my advocates, but now I saw that I had to advocate for myself.

I talked about my responsibilities, how hard I’d worked, how much I loved the organization and the people. I asked that they hire another person and offer me a decent raise, or I wouldn’t accept the new position.

“I suggest you reconsider,” one of them said. “It’s a great opportunity for you.”

I was shocked. An opportunity?

“I need more help if you want me to stay,” I insisted.

“We’re offering you a great career move. Are you saying you don’t want a promotion?”
I felt numb. They were trying to wear me down, to make me feel like this was a positive. But I knew better. I didn’t want to work two jobs when the hours were long enough, and they refused to negotiate.

When I realized I’d have to accept their terms or quit, the fear kicked into high gear. Would I be able to get another job in this economy? How would I support myself? It was my ego shouting, trying to take control and remind me that I needed this job, and this paycheck. But my gut knew better. I didn’t “need” to stay, and a paycheck wasn’t worth my sense of self. I knew that it might take a while, but I could find another job.

When our meeting ended, I walked back to my desk and typed up my resignation. Nobody stopped me or tried to convince me to stay when I announced my departure.

Strangely, I was relieved. By deciding to confront the situation and my supervisors directly, I’d let go of my burning desire to live up to their unreasonable expectations. Instead, I saw myself and the situation more clearly.

If they weren’t willing to see my value, I had to honor it myself, even if it meant confronting people I liked and admired. I learned that confrontation, though still difficult for me to do, was just as healthy as being kind.

Soon after I quit, I was able to find work. In fact, leaving that job opened up opportunities I wasn’t aware of, because I hadn’t been looking. I now have a steady stream of freelance assignments, as well as more time to dedicate to other passions of mine, like traveling, hiking, and writing a novel.

Here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with conflict:

Asserting myself is a healthy practice.

We all deserve an equal playing field. When I speak up for myself, it means I’m honoring my needs, too. When I’m going to extremes trying to please others, I get resentful, whether I realize it in the moment or not. Over time, this resentment interferes with my relationships. When I create healthy boundaries with someone in my life, I’m doing both of us a favor.

It might be uncomfortable in the moment.

Confronting someone is never easy, especially a friend, family member, or someone in a position of power over you (like a boss). It might make me squirm and feel terrible in the moment, but in the long run, I have felt such relief. I’ve taken the silent burden off of me, so I can feel more peaceful. The positives outweigh the negatives.

I must look past my fear.

When we face big risks in life like potential unemployment or the end of a relationship, fear kicks into high gear. When fear overwhelms me, I like to step back and look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective.
If a good friend told me she was going through the same experience, what would I say? No doubt I’d support her in advocating for herself, so I should take my own advice. No matter the result, it’s worth the risk to honor ourselves.

It is impossible to please everyone anyway.

This is a hard lesson for me. I have a deep desire for people to understand who I am; that what I do and say comes from a good place. However, this isn’t realistic. There are always going to be people who don’t like me, who misunderstand me. It is not my job to make them feel differently about me; that is completely up to them. What I can do is treat people with respect and kindness, and let go of the outcome.

Confrontation isn’t about hurting someone else; it’s about standing in my power.

The ability to confront ultimately comes down to an issue of self-esteem. Because I was trying to gain acceptance and love, I was at the mercy of external circumstances to feel worthy. Now I see that I have to accept my own worthiness no matter what.

We are all worthy. We are all lovable. And we are all responsible for creating boundaries to honor our worth. This I know is true.

Article by:  Kelly Seal of Tiny Buddha

Happy woman with great mental health

One New Year’s Resolution That Creates Lasting Change

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon

I originally started to write a post offering tons of different New Year’s resolutions and tips to stick to them to create lasting change.

After all, that’s what we bloggers do around the end of the year: share our best practices for improving our lives as December rolls into January; compile well-researched suggestions to change, and do it consistently, despite knowing most people give up on resolutions within weeks of setting them.

Then I realized that didn’t feel authentic to me.

I don’t actually believe New Year’s Day is any different than any other day. I don’t believe a random point in the time measurement system we’ve created requires us to make a laundry list of things we need to change or improve.

New Year’s Eve is, in fact, just another day, and the next day is one, as well.

I don’t mean to minimize the excitement of the New Year, or any of the days we’ve chosen to celebrate for religious or honorary reasons. I love a big event as much as the next person; in fact, I sometimes bust out the champagne for parallel parking well or using a really big word in a sentence.

What I’m saying is that New Year’s resolutions often fail for a reason, and it’s only slightly related to intention or discipline.

Resolutions fail because they don’t emerge from true breakthroughs. They’re calendar-driven obligations. and they often address the symptoms, not the cause of our unhappiness.

Some resolutions are smart for our physical and emotional health and well-being. Quitting smoking, losing weight, managing stress better—these are all healthy things.

But if we don’t address what underlies our needs to light up, order double bacon cheeseburgers, and worry ourselves into frenzies, will it really help to vow on one arbitrary day to give up everything that helps us pretend we’re fine?

It’s almost like we set ourselves up for failure to avoid addressing the messy stuff.

Why We’re Really Unhappy

I can’t say this is true for everyone, but my experience has shown me that my unhappiness—and my need for coping mechanisms—come from several different places:

  • I’m dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future.
  • I’m comparing myself to everyone else—their accomplishments, the respect and the attention they garner, and their apparently perfect lives.
  • I’m feeling dissatisfied with how I’m spending my time and the impact I’m making on the world.
  • I’ve lost hope in my potential.
  • I’m expecting and finding the worst in people.
  • I’m turning myself into a victim or a martyr, blaming everyone else.
  • I’m spiraling into negative thinking, seeing everything as a sign of doom and hopelessness
  • I’m assuming there should be a point in time when none of the above happens anymore.

The last one, I believe, is the worst cause of unhappiness. All those other things I mentioned are human, whether we experience them persistently or occasionally.

We’ll do these things from time to time, and they’ll hurt. In the aftermath, we’ll want to do all those different things that every year we promise to give up.

We’ll want to eat, drink, or smoke away our feelings. Or we’ll want to work away our nagging sense of inadequacy. Or we’ll judge whether or not we’re really enjoying life enough, and in the very act of judging detract from that enjoyment.

So, perhaps the best resolution has nothing to do with giving up all those not-so-healthy things and everything to do with adopting a new mindset that will make it less tempting to turn to them.

An Alternative to Resolutions

Maybe instead of trying to trim away all the symptoms of our dissatisfaction, we can accept that what we really want is happiness—and that true happiness comes and goes. We can never trap it like a butterfly in a jar.

No amount of medication or meditation can change the fact that we will sometimes get caught up in thoughts and emotions.

What we can do is work to improve the ratio of happy-to-unhappy moments. We can learn to identify when we’re spiraling and pull ourselves back with the things we enjoy and want to do in this world.

Instead of scolding ourselves for all the things we’re doing wrong and making long to-do lists to stop doing them, we can focus on doing the things that feel right to us.

This may sound familiar if you’ve read about positive psychology.

I’m no posi-psy expert, and to my knowledge no one is since the industry is unregulated. But it doesn’t take an expert to know it feels a lot better to choose to nurture positive moments than it does to berate myself for things I’ve done that might seem negative—all while plotting to give them all up when the clock strikes tabula rasa.

4 Simple Steps to Increase Your Happiness Ratio

This is something I’ve been working on for years, so it comes from my personal experience. As I have worked to increase my levels of satisfaction, meaning, and happiness, I have given up a number of unhealthy habits, including smoking, overeating, and chronically dwelling and complaining.

That all required deliberate intention, but it was impossible until I addressed the underlying feelings. I still have some unhealthy habits, but I know releasing them starts with understanding why I turn to them. Starting today, and every day, regardless of the calendar:

1. Recognize the places where you feel helpless…

…the housing situation, the job, the relationship, that sense of meaningless. Then plan to do something small to change that starting right now. Acknowledge that you have the power to do at least one small thing to empower yourself.

Don’t commit to major outcomes just yet. Just find the confidence and courage to take one small step knowing that you’ll learn as you go where it’s heading. As you add up little successes, the bigger picture will become clearer. This isn’t major transformation over a night. It’s a small seed of change that can grow.

2. Identify the different events that lead to feelings that seem negative.

Like gossiping with your coworker, overextending yourself at work, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much.

Whatever it is that generally leaves you with unhappy feelings, note it down. Work to reduce these, making a conscious effort to do them on one fewer day per week, then two, and then three. The key isn’t to completely cut out these things, but rather to minimize their occurrence.

3. Identify the things that create positive feelings.

Like going to the park, painting, looking at photo albums, or singing. Whatever creates feel-good chemicals in your head, note them down and make a promise to yourself to integrate them into your day. As you feel your way through your joy, add to this. Learn the formula for your bliss.

Know that these moments of joy are a priority, and you deserve to receive them. When you’re fully immersed within a happy moment of your own choosing, you’re a lot less likely to get lost dwelling, obsessing, comparing, judging, and wishing you were better.

4. Stay mindful of the ratio.

If you’ve had an entire week that’s been overwhelming, dark, or negative, instead of getting down on yourself for falling that low, remind yourself that only your kindness can pull you out. Tell yourself that you deserve to restore a sense of balance—to maintain a healthy ratio.

Then give yourself what you need. Take a personal day at work and take a day trip. Go to the park to relax and reflect. Remind yourself only you can let go of what’s been and come back to what can be.

It’s not about perfection or a complete release from all the causes of unhappiness. It’s about accepting that being human involves a little unhappiness—but how often it consumes us is up to us.

This might not be a lengthy list of unhealthy behaviors you can give up, and how, or a long list of suggestions for adventure and excitement in the new year. But all those things mean nothing if you’re not in the right head space to release the bad and enjoy the good.

Resolve what you will this year, but know that happiness is the ultimate goal. It starts in daily choices, not lofty resolutions—on any day you decide to start.

Article written by: Lori Deschene from Tiny Buddha

Women practicing mindfulness to improve their mental and physical health

How Practicing Mindfulness for Just 5 Minutes a Day Can Improve Health…

Practicing mindfulness has been shown to have numerous positive effects on well-being. Decades of research supports what has been known for thousands of years by cultures that practice mindfulness. Engaging in a practice even for just a few minutes a day can lower stress and anxiety, relieve feelings of depression and pain, and boost the immune system. Cultivating mindfulness helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, which promotes emotional balance and self-awareness.

Here are some great online resources for guided meditations.  They’re a great place to start if you want to try out meditation for the first time, or if you’re an experienced practitioner and enjoy guided meditations.

Feel the feeling, but don’t become the emotion.  Witness it.  Allow it.  Release it.

-Buddhist quote, Anonymous