Why is it that most of us live our lives in such a way that pleases others? It seems illogical to me that we base our days doing things that will make us accepted by people around us, rather than doing things that we would rather do and that please ourselves.
You only live once. How many times have you heard this phrase? But have you ever just stopped and really reflected on it. You have such a limited time on earth and once you are gone, you are gone. Everything you did in your life will no longer matter, whether you were popular or not won’t be important.So why is it that we think it so vital to make everyone around us like us or in some cases even envy us. It seems to me like everyone I know, with the exception of a very few, only do things that they think others would view as normal for them to do. Which, in short, means that most of us really live our lives for others rather than ourselves.
I cannot say that I’m someone who does not do this. I am, and always have been, a very big ‘people pleaser’. I rarely start arguments and hardly say no to people. It is only now, after countless times of doing things that I really did not enjoy doing, that I realise how wrongly I handled these situations. In fact I was so into my role as a ‘people pleaser’ that it took someone else (thank you Dad) to help me find my way out of it. I’m finally starting to express how I truly feel to people and slowly becoming someone who does things for me.
Not only does the act of ‘people pleasing’ become an issue because of how it prevents you living your own life; it can also be quite dangerous. As you can read for the title I believe that ‘you don’t have to prove anything to anyone’, because going back to what I said previously other’s opinions of you should not matter. Yet, I see people every day doing things that will help them prove a point to others. An extreme case that I have been a witness of for a while is amongst people with mental health issues. Especially with eating disorder patients, it feels as if people copy behaviours from each other just to show how sick they truly are. For instance, if someone with anorexia was diagnosed and given outpatient treatment instead of an inpatient admission they may feel that they would not be seen as a real anorexic unless they are taken to hospital. Hence they would try to make themselves more sick than they already are.
I have also seen the same behaviour with people with depression. It seems to me that some feel like others will not take them seriously for their mental illness unless they take medication for it or also experience as many symptoms as possible. Trying to prove to others that you really are sick is what is very dangerous. This is because the behaviour then spirals out of control as with every new proof you have, you feel the need for more.
It is hard to recognise this behaviour in yourself. I’m speaking from first hand experience here as even I could not see I was digging a very deep hole where I collected all these ‘proofs’. Again it took someone else (thanks Mum) to point out to me what I was doing. Before she helped me see the problem I would always feel quite hopeless and lost thinking about how silly I was to even complain about my problems when everyone else was so much more ill than me. Now I can see that what I was really feeling was the need to be more sick in order to really fit into the category of an ‘anorexic’.
It is quite a difficult concept to grasp but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to recognise this behaviour in a lot of people and more importantly in yourself. For instance, now I can take a step back and think ‘Why should I care if my lowest weight was more that that girl’s? Everyone has their own experience and I do not have to prove to anyone that I truly am sick’. We have to learn to live our individual lives.
Hopefully this post will help you out of the hole you’ve been digging subconsciously. Just like my parents helped me see this perspective, I hope I helped you.