Transparency is super difficult when you are a people pleaser. It takes remarkable fortitude to say how you really feel if it goes against the surrounding grain. Generally, feeling pressure to satisfy others is, many times, going to be at the expense of being disappointed and unfulfilled yourself. Constantly choosing to make others happy when it denies how you really feel is chipping away at your ability to make transparency your go-to method of communication. Unfortunately, it is also impacting your self-esteem and integrity. You are forging a pathway in your brain’s neurological pathways to make people-pleasing a habit. A habit that starts to feel and represent what one might call your “nature.”
We do not want this to be our nature because that is what people expect from us – all the time. If you are known to yourself and others as a people pleaser, then you know it is not clear to others what you stand for. It’s time to forge a new pathway. Like any personal growth or change, this takes work. It is easy to keep going down that beaten path of people-pleasing because it is now a pattern of behavior and patterns can be incredibly hard to break.
You will argue that it is easier this way, people find you to be easy-going. You may spin it in your head that you are flexible and that is a strength, right?! As we know from the unwarranted and tired interview question: “What is your greatest weakness?” we can spin this in a way to make ourselves feel better about our people-pleasing tendencies. Just like you can turn “being late” into a strength, we can turn flexible people-pleasing into a strength, but we all know deep down that it is nothing but a weakness that stunts us from being who we truly are-talking and speaking as we truly are-flourishing under freedom. It’s absolutely a waste of time.
Do you know what transparency can do for you? Set you free. Free of the social constructs that got you to be a people pleaser in the first place! Someone in your past made you feel like you had to earn your worth by the measure with which other people were happy with you. Just like it is difficult to read minds, it takes an inordinate amount of effort to continue people-pleasing. It is not worth the sacrifice of living your authentic transparent truth because as you get closer to being transparent, you get closer to flourishing under freedom. I remember feeling like this when I first voted for who I wanted to vote for in the presidential election. Previously, I was even people-pleasing in the voting booth! A place with boundaries that ensure no one will know anyway.
I have an exceedingly tough time lying which I suppose is a good thing, but it becomes a difficult thing when your authentic self does not align with the opinions of most people around you. You want to both be yourself AND people please and this is where you can really start to feel the sacrifice you are making. I could not believe how good it felt when I left the voting booth. I felt whole, real, and true to myself. I don’t think I had felt that very often. Given the past few years and the divisive situation we have been in fueled me to establish what I stand for even more and I now have no qualms about what I want for the world. Anger and passion to protect people fueled me to let the cards fall as they may if people had any concern with where I stood on issues.
Being diplomatic instead of hostile when voicing your opinion or making a choice you know might not be exactly be what others want can be tricky, because you are tired, and now you just want to be transparent, get your point across quickly and move on. The first step may be acceptance that people will disagree with you and preparing for that and to understand that a disagreement is okay. We are not made to all be the same and think the same.
And then there is that great quote that talks about attracting other like-minded people. You just cannot and will not do that if you are not being your true self. I have thoroughly found this reasoning one of the most fulfilling things in the past few years with friends and people I communicate with. Because I have made my opinions and stances clear, I have been able to attract and engage in deeper communication with so many and have realized the treasure of friends I have in my life presently. And even friends who are on a different page- my authenticity has allowed for those relationships to be strengthened as well. Seeing that people can have different opinions or stances and still care about them and their well-being and enjoy their company is the closest thing to hope I have for our world. Transparency built a stronger foundation for all of my relationships including the one with myself.
That all being said, you may lose people or at least the depth that you had with them, but I promise, it is worth it to feel whole, content, and able to flourish under the freedom that you have now unlocked in yourself and with those in your circle.
One other thing that has helped me is seeing others be authentic in my presence. People who say what they feel without thinking of the cost are my heroes. I still wholly think about the cost. These people are certified tenacious, and I am in awe. How did they come to be so unwavering? How did they skip the people-pleasing schtick? I have no idea, but I want to be these people. They know their values and they display and express them ACROSS settings. I am still working on this. I often freeze and can’t find a way to say how I feel in a non-defensive way. My people pleasing pathway runs deep so I have to practice in my mind beforehand.
A few sentence starters in an attempt to be “nice” and have effective communication are below:
That’s one way, what do you think if we did it like…..
Can we try it this way?….
My thought process is….
What’s the most important point we want to make here?
The most important thing to me is….
I was thinking…
No, I don’t have space for that right now.
That’s not going to work for me.
Let me think about it and I’ll let you know my thoughts.
I often scramble or freeze for what to say because I do not want to hurt a relationship or burn a bridge in any way so I need more processing time to gather my thoughts in an effective way so this last one might be useful.
Oh man, the “you act like the person around you” and “you need everyone to like you (even the people you don’t like” ones really got me. Those make me cringe because although I knew I was doing them, it was messing with the integrity of my authenticity and integrity is important to me. You can’t be a people pleaser and capture your integrity at the same time.
So try practicing to change your pathway for the next 3 months. Make your go-to answer “no” instead of “yes, that’s fine!” and go from there. You are the driver of your life and you have to decide if you want to waste any more time not getting your point or feelings across. I’ve referenced this before but there are studies out there where people who are older or dying have said they wish they hadn’t cared so much about what others thought. As we all know there are many detriments that come from this line of thinking and many people do it anyway! Let’s not waste anymore time. Let’s focus on being as transparent as possible. Protect your peace. You will form such a deeper sense of self and deeper connections-and life IS connections.