Hi. My name is Susan and I am a recovering people pleaser. All of my life, I have wanted others to accept me, approve of me, or take value in what I offer in a relationship. But...I have no control over people or how they feel about me. Sometimes this is hard.
I am currently being passively bullied. Doesn’t that sound weird? I am 48 years old and others still attempt to control and manipulate me into doing their bidding. When do I arrive at the stage of life when “No” means no? No excuse or justification...just no.
A few years back, I came across my now favorite quote. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
I am someone who can naturally juggle a lot of things. This is just how my brain is wired. I have an ability to compartmentalize tasks so that I am able to get things done. This is not the same thing as being busy. I do not enjoy being busy and running in a million different directions. To prevent myself from falling into chaos, I typically put my efforts into 2 or 3 areas and consider it my lifetime achievement. For example: My children are currently in 3 separate schools, if I am on the PTO board at one school...that is my school-wide contribution.
I have learned to be clear with what I can and cannot do. This year I committed to my husband to take a “gap year.” Actually my friend Angie created this name for me. I have gone into every activity, both in the community and in the schools and relayed that I will not be taking a leadership role. *I believe it is emotionally healthy to take occasional breaks from leadership roles when there is high demand or a lot of people involvement. When conversations start to become friction to my soul, it is time to step back before I end up apologizing profusely for an outburst of frankness.*
Boundaries make people uncomfortable. I told Philip that people often tell me not to over-commit...but change that stance when they are the one I have to deny.
I am not emotionally wounded by the recent series of events, just irritated that when I say "no" it is seen as a justification to withhold kindness or consideration. When I first started getting ignored, I thought it was an over-site. Then, my former friend opened the door for me without eye contact or acknowledgement. Another time, they turned the other direction when they saw me coming. I don’t know why I am always surprised. Have you ever heard the statement, “Darned if you do, darned if you don’t”?
It isn’t personal people!
I am not going to lie. This makes me uncomfortable. I know the only way to fix this situation is to give what I am not willing to give...another performance that will suck my time and build resentment because I was never created to meet another’s unrealistic expectation. So...I have settled for the fact that some bullies are loud and aggressive and other bullies are passive and unyielding, but both are the kiss of death to a people pleaser.
Good thing...I am in recovery.
When I told my husband what was happening, he was frustrated. He used to say I was reading the situation incorrectly. Over time, he has seen controlling people attempt to control me time and time again...and when it doesn’t work, they despise me. I have learned if I push through to do another’s bidding, the ones who suffer most are the humans who live in my home. My tribe requires my attention and deserve an emotionally healthy person to help them navigate their own social demands.
I believe I am giving my children a gift, a gift found in the example of healthy boundaries and saying “no” when it won’t work in the balance of my life. It is so easy to become over-committed and overdone with projects and activities that just suck the life out of me, leaving nothing for my treasured relationships.
I created an unspoken filter for taking on a project or activity...
1. Can I manage this task without losing my peace?
2. Will this task take me away from my children in the evening more than Philip and I can handle?
3. Do I trust the people involved in the task or will it create unnecessary drama in my life?
4. Do I want to do it or am I just feeling guilty for saying no?
I can’t tell you how often I get to question 4 and I am forced to stop. I remind myself, “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.” Then I breathe and let it go.
Making sound and good decisions has been the most important step in my people pleasing recovery. This is why my “yes” means yes, and my “no” means no. This is why others trust that when I say I will do something, I will be there. If something happens to me and I can’t fulfill my obligation, then I will send the best human I know to do it for me. Philip. He will show up and put on a smile and take your money and manage your kids. I will text him a million times and tell him how thankful I am for covering for me. He will take all the extra points it earns him.
This is how we do life. We commit wholeheartedly to a few manageable tasks and then if one goes down, we cover. We are a team in every way, so when I commit to a task...we are committing to it.
So I say to the person who walks away from me because I told you "no," it is your loss because one day I would have said “yes” and I would have rocked it...but you just got moved off the list because of filter question 3...Do I trust the people involved in the task or will it create unnecessary drama in my life?
I am a recovering people pleaser.
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.