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  • Writer's pictureClarissa Tapia

People Pleaser - Who? Me? No way...

If I asked you to write down the name of a person you feel frustration, disappointment or resentment toward for whatever reason, and then I said to you: Imagine that this person is doing the best they can. How would that make you feel? Would it change your perspective or would you adamantly say, "Absolutely not, there's no way they're even trying!" This week, I didn't get a chance to read as much as usual, but I'm okay with that because this week's message didn't need an entire chapter to capture my attention. It was a little message that I believe can change your entire day, it absolutely did for me.

All around you, people are doing the best they can.

This is such a powerful sentiment. In Rising Strong, Brené Brown asked tons of people if they felt that in general, people were doing the best they could. She found that people who struggle with perfectionism usually answered "No" while offering examples of situations where they themselves weren't completely perfect. People who answered "Yes" were put in a group that Brown defines as "Wholehearted - People who are willing to be vulnerable and who believe in their self-worth." The 'Wholehearted' group also offered examples of where they fell short, but instead of beating themselves up for what they could have done different like the perfectionists, they told Brown that their intentions were good and they were trying.

The reason this message resonated so deeply for me is because it gave me a sense of compassion to look at the people around me without sitting in judgement, while also simultaneously giving me the opportunity to cut myself some slack by just reminding myself that I am doing the best I can. This sense of compassion is what's helping me move from a place of wanting to make everyone happy at my expense and then resenting others unfairly for my lack of boundaries. For example, in my job field, customer service is a big deal. If you can't form relationships with your clients, it can be very difficult to get through a transaction without stress, resentment and even disappointment. I would be lying if I said that every client of mine has been happy with their transaction. Satisfied maybe, but probably not happy. In retrospect, I can honestly say that a lot of the dissatisfaction probably came from me not setting any boundaries because of my need to please my clients. Brown writes, "Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and when you are a pleaser hell-bent on being easy, fun and flexible." In trying to please my clients in every way possible, by bending over backwards to meet their needs I thought for sure they would value my efforts, in fact applaud them and appreciate me even more. I was wrong. To that end, Brown asks, "How can we expect people to put value on our work when we don't value ourselves to set and hold uncomfortable boundaries?"

Part of practicing self-compassion is giving yourself permission to say no when you have to, and when you say yes, mean it. These boundaries will keep you from blaming others and falling into resent because you'll be able to ask yourself: Did I clearly express my needs to this person, or was I simply looking for someone to blame? If you don't take responsibility for your own needs, nobody else will. Falling for the "It's not fair" or "I deserve" trap will only make you blame, judge and resent others more. Remember: "We don't compare when we're feeling good about ourselves; we look for what's good in others... Self righteousness is just the armor of self-loathing," says Brown.

This week someone asked me if I saw myself as a pleaser and I immediately and defiantly said No Way! With my eyes popping out of my face in a feigned 'Whaaaaaat' expression like the Minions in Despicable Me. But even I didn't buy it. This is something I am working on and it's so hard, but just being conscious of my tendency to please and give blindly makes me curious about what it would be like for me to set boundaries. All while telling myself that I am doing the best I can.

Let me ask you, How are your boundaries?

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