I miss my uncle the priest, especially throughout these past few years of adversity. I look forward to the daily email sermons I receive from a Catholic priest I call ‘Father Hope.’ I used to be involved in a bible study with him. His spiritual wisdom is some of the best I have received. In […]
Sure, I knew I was a people pleaser.
But somehow hearing a marriage counselor who is a psychologist tell you this – well, it sounds worse.
My counselor’s exact words, “Colleen, you’re a pleaser and a fixer.”
People interpret being a pleaser as a weakness.
But that’s not necessarily accurate.
Yes, there are individuals who please because they want to be liked.
However, there are equally as many if not more who please because they want to keep the peace. They want to live a low-stress existence. And because they believe if they fix something for a person it will lessen that particular individual’s overall anxiety and stress.
And most importantly, because it’s a behavior they learned while growing up.
I’ve always said I enjoy being liked. I do not need to be liked.
What do I mean by that?
I’ve never expected the world to like me. That is unrealistic. We aren’t going to be compatible with all personality types. However, as the youngest and overly social being of five siblings, I do gravitate towards all types of people. I enjoy people. I enjoy being in a robust crowd.
It is familiar to me.
It is joyful to me.
And it reminds me of the energy I loved growing up in a full house.
But I was raised by a leader and taught to be a leader.
This means when a situation calls for it I need to step forward and do the right thing. No matter if it is the unpopular thing. No matter if others stand back. No matter if others disagree. No matter if it makes me unlikable.
Thus, I enjoy being liked but do not need to be liked.
The people-pleaser in me does not stem from a need to be accepted.
It hails from my family of origin. It is the role I played. I wanted everyone to be happy.
My uncle once described me like this, “Colleen the Holy Spirit gave you the gift of joy. Your whole life you have been a happy girl and all you wanted was to make everyone around you happy. But if the situation calls for it you can be feisty.”
I have never forgotten my uncle’s words and I ‘ve written about them before because the biggest takeaway from counseling is learning who we are.
And why we land where we land.
My uncle’s definition speaks to exactly how I have always viewed myself.
The ‘feisty’ reference indicating a boundary and no need to be liked.
But there do exist people who I care whether or not they like me.
My family and closest friends.
They are my inner core. My inner being. My inner world.
I care if they respect me. If they think I am living with the proper value system. If I am making choices rooted in self-respect and kindness. If I am honest, thoughtful, generous, and empathetic.
Because they are all of these things.
I care if they are happy.
Do they make me feel the need to prove myself? Not at all.
This is a role I adopted in childhood.
Does it make me weak?
Is it a weakness?
As my marriage counselor says, “Our greatest strengths can become our greatest weakness.”
Pleasers care too much.
But in no way does it mean an individual lacks strength.
On the contrary, pleasers are busy holding up the worlds of many and often ignoring their own world.
Not weak…just a weakness born out of greater strengths.
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