What could you do less of?
This feels like a loaded question for me. I could do less of a lot of things. I could do less people pleasing, less taking things personally, less remembering past pain, less blaming myself for things out of my control, less complaining, less retreating into myself, less forcing myself to do things I don’t want to do, less timing wasting playing games on my phone, less ordering from Amazon. I could go on and on…
I’ve been working on doing less people pleasing for awhile now. There’s generally a second part of that I need to focus on now. I don’t do things I don’t want to do, but sometimes I should really have a conversation with the person about the why of it. Not everyone deserves an explanation, but friends and family members do deserve that explanation. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest. I am learning to say “What you did hurt my feelings” to my father, but I still don’t feel comfortable being direct with my mom like that. But my dad is also getting better about asking if something works for me, which helps me a lot when I don’t want to say yes just to make him happy.
I think we force kids into this people pleasing behavior when they are young. Things like “behave at your grandmother’s house because you don’t want to make me look bad.” That was something I heard almost every time we went over there. No one wants to make their parents look bad on purpose but I also did kid things or said something I shouldn’t have because I had no filter. And since I was the first grandchild, all of that was really cute and funny until it wasn’t. How was I to know that there was an age when those things were no longer cute and funny?
People pleasing is really just an extension of codependency, which is really hard to catch yourself doing. I think that we are often taught codependency as a normal part of life. My parents often blamed their foul moods on me, as well as regularly ruining meals with my arguing about everything. If only they had found more effective ways to address my behavior. That is where I learned that when something goes badly, it is my fault. It’s a lie that still lives in my brain and I have to fight SO HARD to not take responsibility for those things.