I. Am. Enough.(Tales of A Recovering People-Pleaser)

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I am enough.

Ok, alottimes.

Maybe you, too?

You see, I am a recovering people-pleaser, with an emphasis on the recovering part and it’s allllll rooted in a limiting belief I’ve worked on since I knew what “working on” things meant. Whenever I’m struggling with my worthiness, or my “enough-ness”, I tend to want to revert back to my old ways and do allllll the things for allllll the people.

I go back to being the “good girl.”

Being a “good girl” was a survival mechanism I used for years. And it came at a cost. My recovery has shown me that it’s a price I’m no longer willing to pay.

The way recovery from people-pleasing looks for me is paying close attention to my gut. It means living in a constant state of hyper awareness around my feelings, trying to ensure the things I do are done because I truly want to do them, and not out of a sense of obligation or with an ulterior motive. 

It means placing boundaries around myself and my energy.

It means no longer just saying “YES!!” to everything even if it means I’ll disappoint people. I remember sharing with a friend when I was in my early twenties that the WORST thing, for me, was the feeling of disappointing people. I remember her face, sort of a cross between, “Oh, wow, really?” (like, that’s the WORST thing??) and “Yeah, I get it…” because so many of us, especially women, feel this knee-jerk reaction to do all the things that make it appear like we don’t even have needs.

Having needs is for other people.

WE have it all together.

Can’t you see that?

Everything is FINE.

UGH.

It’s how we take care of everybody else before we care for ourselves that leads to us falling farther and farther down the list of priorities and creates the ugliest form of anger; resentment. It also opens us up to becoming something worse than people-pleasers; we become martyrs. And if there’s one thing the world definitely needs fewer of, it’s people who act like victims in their lives.

I refuse to be a victim.

Doing this work has allowed the relentless questions rumbling around my brain to go from, “What do I need to do to make this person feel better/have an easier time/make them happy?” to, “How are YOU doing right now, Sarah? Do YOU need some care or attention? How are YOU feeling in this moment? Are your needs being met?”

And if you’re like me, please know this process is incredibly uncomfortable! It literally pains me to think of myself before others. It’s harrrd for me to not think of the way my actions or choices will impact others’ lives before I wonder how they’ll affect my own, but if there is one thing I know for sure it is this: I cannot give to others what I do not have. And drawing from an empty cup means that no one really gets anything of value.

So, I will continue to work on it and maybe you’ll do the same if you also struggle in this area. Here are some baby steps we can take to get started.

Try saying NO. Period. No explanation needed. Just no. Perhaps try it out on something “small” (I know they never feel small) like when someone asks you to donate to their cause (if you really would prefer to hold back or donate elsewhere) or when someone wants to call and vent but you’ve got dinner to make and kids’ homework to help with or when you’ve got a million other things to do. This can be very, very difficult for people who are always saying yes. And it just might be the most freeing thing you’ll ever do! Try to notice the feelings and if you’re sensing guilt, try to remind yourself of the great job you’re doing with setting boundaries.

Don’t do the thing you think you *should* do. I don’t like the word “should” and yet I use it often when I’m struggling with my worthiness. “I should call them more”. “I should do more”. “I should BE more”. Instead, I try to make choices that lead me towards the vision for my best life and I work hard to stop doing things that society deems important or others expect of me, IF they aren’t aligned with that vision.

Do a body scan. I check in with my body for guidance and I feel my way through decisions. Our bodies are so wise, and yet we often forget that they are huge biofeedback machines! I use meditation as a tool, or even just a few deep breaths, that help me make choices that feel aligned with my true vision. And I remind myself of a favourite Oprah expression, “Doubt means don’t…until you’re sure.” Give yourself the space and grace to make decisions that are aligned with the vision you hold for your best life.

Forgive. Repeat forever. I practice radical forgiveness and acceptance of myself when I mess up and mix up my worth with the things that I do, rather than the person that I am.

Sometimes I get it twisted.

Maybe you do, too. And that’s how I know we are each other’s people. Because we are all just trying our best to do this thing called life.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. I launched this blog 5 years ago. May 25th, 2015 to be exact. In all that time, I haven’t missed a single week. Not one. Until last week. You see, I was working on a project that took longer than I’d anticipated. I was tired and I started to feel rushed, pressured to write a blog post. I struggled and I didn’t feel I had anything to say. I didn’t want to just throw something out there simply to say I’d kept my word. That act spurred this post and then I began thinking of all the ways I continue to people-please. If I disappointed you, I’m sorry you felt that. But I need to get more and more used to disappointing others in order to stop disappointing myself. Thank you to Glennon Doyle and her latest masterpiece, Untamed, for this jewel. It is everything to a recovering people-pleaser like me.

Maybe you, too?

 

P.P.S. If you’d like to explore more about yourself while having amazing conversations with your loved ones, I’ve put together 36 conversation-starters called "Moving Conversations" that are sure to help you deepen and strengthen your bonds while also boosting your fitness! You can download the entire set for free by entering your name and email address above.

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