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Were you Taught Love as a Transaction?
Did you grow up with people who taught you that if you did “good” things, you’d be loved? If you did “bad” things, love would be withheld?
We learned if we were perfect, we’d get more attention or at least avoid negative attention.
We were told to accomplish end results, keep score, love like it was a transaction: “If you do this for me, I’ll do this for you.”
We expect things of people, and when they don’t live up to our expectations, we reject them. They do the same to us.
Were you encouraged to feel or express anger—probably not… if you notice that you people-please. We hide our feelings deep down.
Have you been knocked down by life and significantly disappointed? Perhaps you’ve lost someone you love, and it’s changed you—what really matters to you.
My Wake-Up Call & A Silver Lining
I lost my 22-year-old daughter, Maddie, to cystic fibrosis on October 26, 2018. She was my world. For 22.5 years, I searched for ways to preserve her health and prolong her life. I remained hopeful until the day before she died. I realized she wanted to move on.
Maddie wasn’t meant to live a long life. With her death came the loss of my dream that she’d somehow beat the odds of her chronic illness. But as with any tragedy, I’ve discovered there is a silver lining.
I’ve often worried what others thought of me. Of course, I believed the worst of the opinions. I wouldn’t say what I really thought.
I overate because of an anxiety that was like background noise tuned out because it’s familiar. I shrunk back from social situations because people didn’t feel safe.
People-Pleasing is a Recipe for Exhaustion
People-pleasing is a recipe for exhaustion. It’s an EGO-driven, masculine approach to love (because it treats love like a business, results-driven transaction) and a trap from which we won’t escape if we don’t change our thinking.
I’ve been weaning myself from people-pleasing since I started my life coaching business over 11 years ago.
When Maddie died and I experienced the perception of betrayal from people I trusted, it felt unfair. I wanted to withdraw from the situation and protect myself.
What I quickly learned is that people can “attack” us through their actions, yelling, gossiping, hitting, criticizing, judging, and on and on. But are they really against us?
Are they the source of the problem? No.
Loyalty has to come from Within YOU
Loyalty has to come from ourselves first. Once we have this self-trust and begin to love because it feels good, people can no longer take advantage of us. We can’t be hurt.
The feeling of betrayal starts within us, when we sell ourselves out and believe a lie about who we are.
When we love and accept ourselves, boundaries become less needed, unless we use them intentionally to help others step up to their potential.
For example, maybe we feel taken advantage of because we keep the house clean by our self even though we live in a house of 4 adults. What can we do?
If we want to keep a tidy house but our roommates don’t share that value, we have a couple of choices.
We Can Ask But Don’t Control What THEY Do
We can ask them to help us out with specific chores. But we don’t control their response. So if they don’t cooperate, then what?
Then we have to find a way to make peace within ourselves. We can ask someone to move out, but that won’t solve the problem because it’s trying to solve it by adjusting something outside of us.
We can CHOOSE to clean because we WANT TO. That would be empowering. But aren’t we letting them off the hook?
It’s one of those “pick your battle” situations. Are you enabling someone to the point of harming them? If so, then you might continue calling them on their stuff.
If you continue to try to change another’s behavior, do it from the sincere standpoint of serving them to be mature, not because you believe it will help YOU to feel better
Initially Boundaries Help You Feel Safe
This is a subtle but very important distinction. Initially boundaries are there for yourself, to give you the illusion of safety and control.
Over time, as you practice more and more love and acceptance, you will use boundaries less and less, and then only to help others grow when you deem appropriate. You aren’t punishing them with one of your boundaries. It should come from love.
The people in our lives who seem to “cause” us to feel uncomfortable or “create” problems for us are not villains. Yet it doesn’t mean we should tolerate abuse.
When we love and accept ourselves, we won’t do that. We can leave from a loving space for that person, “I won’t stay AND I love you.”
People-pleasing cannot satisfy you or the one you’re trying to please, because it has a foundation of fear. “If I leave, how will I manage?” “If I don’t do this for them, things will fall apart or be messy.”
In Honor of Maddie
I write this in honor of my beautiful, courageous Maddie who said to me in that last month, “Mommy, why would you do anything you don’t really want to do?”
If you’re anything like me, perhaps you’re arriving at that same question. Are you ready to stop people-pleasing and start loving?
Join me for the Frontier to Your Freedom Class on 4/11/19 where we will continue to discuss this. I’ll help you to do something different.