5 Tough Life Lessons From an Ex-People-Pleaser
I know I have changed. Life has changed me, and while I know it is for the better, sometimes I look into the mirror and I am looking for the woman I used to be a few years ago — and I don’t find her. There are still some traces of her, an afterthought here, a lingering sensation of self-doubt and a timid, apologetic half-smile there — but other than that, I’m not the same person I used to be.
It is the result of a series of conscious and subconscious, almost automatic changes that occurred through healing and growth and lessons I never wanted to learn but I had to. Sometimes I try to imagine how my life would have turned out had I been already this way when I was with my now ex-husband, whether I still would have even talked to the guy who later became abusive to me. I doubt it. This new me would have never settled for the continuous challenging from a husband who later cheated on me. She would have never given a second chance to someone who didn’t even deserve a first chance.
The way I used to be was the only way I knew. The way how I was fighting for the attention of others, how I chased people to love me and show me affection, how I settled for morsels even though I wanted and deserved a lot more. I didn’t know any better than to be empathetic to a fault, to try to offer everything I had, to beg and plead and bargain. A real people-pleaser.
Whenever we face problems in our adulthood and we discover that they might have something to do with our own behaviour, the knee-jerk reaction is to look for reasons rooted in our upbringing and childhood. I don’t know what made me become a people pleaser. I didn’t have a traumatic childhood, I had loving and caring parents, I wasn’t expected to do things I wasn’t ready to do. My parents did divorce, but I was already 17 and I fail to see how that would have anything to do with my people pleasing tendencies. having said that, now that I am a parent, it is so easy to emotionally hurt a child inadvertently — a word here, an expectation there, and here we are at traumatic experiences. Yet, I still think that my people pleasing had nothing to do with childhood trauma, it was mainly coming from a sense of general insecurity and a wish to be liked — to an…