Dear People Pleaser,
The other day, I was listening to Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself on audible. To be honest, most of this book fell into the “lessons already learned” category, so I was only half listening while scurrying about completing household chores and expending brain power on more important matters, such as “should I defrost chicken or salmon for tonight” and “shouldn’t the inventor of Shopkins be required to pay a fine any time an innocent person steps on one”…
But then something in the audio book caught my full attention. It was a suggested activity at the end of a chapter titled Remove The Victim. The activity went something like this:
Write down all the things you consider your responsibilities. Include all different areas of your life: work, children, friends, spouse…
Next, write down what responsibilities belong to the other people in your life. If any responsibilities are shared, such as household finances or chores, write down what percentage of the responsibility you think is appropriate for each person.
Such a simple little exercise, and yet… Mind. Blown.
If you are like me – a recovering people pleaser who is kinda sorta getting there, but could use a little more reinforcement – then I think this is an awesome tool to add to your anti-people-pleasing arsenal.
When your inner critic starts with the “but isn’t this horribly selfish of me” and “OMG what will they think of me” simply ask yourself:
Is this my responsibility?
And if you are like me and almost never actually complete the activities in self help books (because duh, it’s totally enough to just agree it’s an awesome idea. 😉 ), let me save you some time and effort and go through this exercise with you.
Let me just suggest what you might be responsible for.
Dear People Pleaser: What You Are Responsible For
You are responsible for yourself.
You are responsible for taking care of yourself.
You are responsible for getting enough sleep, exercise, and nutritious food to function at your full capacity.
You are responsible for managing your stress and anxiety levels.
You are responsible for creating your best life – whatever that might mean to you.
If you have brought other human beings into this world, then you are responsible for making sure their physical and emotional needs are met to the best of your ability while they are young. And as they grow older, you are responsible for teaching them how to meet their own needs.
You are responsible for creating financial security for yourself and for your minor children.
You are responsible for seeking balance among your responsibilities so that the process of fulfilling some of them doesn’t preclude fulfilling the others.
You are responsible for seeking help when you don’t know how to fulfill your responsibilities to yourself.
That’s all. That’s all you are responsible for.
And to make this as clear as possible, let me also suggest what you are not responsible for.
Dear People Pleaser: What You Are Not Responsible For
You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness in life.
You are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings.
You are not responsible for anyone else’s relationships.
You are not responsible for anyone else’s entertainment.
You are not responsible for anticipating and meeting the needs of anyone and everyone who makes an appearance in your life.
You may choose to show compassion and find ways to help and support some people in some ways some of the time.
But you don’t need to say yes when you’d rather say no.
You don’t need to be everything for everyone who happens to cross your path.
You are not responsible for solving every single problem that falls in your lap.
You may choose to be kind and considerate and thoughtful.
But you don’t need to get so concerned about other people’s comfort levels that you hold back and hide your authentic self.
It’s not your job to protect all of humanity from ever feeling any discomfort.
Dear People Pleaser…
Take responsibility for your own life and let others do the same.
Don’t let caring for others prevent you from caring for yourself.
Don’t get so caught up in what other people think that you forget to think for yourself.
Don’t get so busy living other people’s lives that you never get around to living your own.