On Monday morning, my alarm went off at 4:45am.
Now I enjoy mornings, but I wouldn’t really call myself a morning person per say. And while I have quite a few friends and colleagues who are a part of the 5am club, I am not one of them!
But I got up at that time because I’ve signed up for swim training again. And, well, it begins at 5:55am. And seeing as how the pool is about 40 minutes away, I was already cutting it close.
On the way there, I was feeling a tad anxious.
So I tried to ask myself where it was coming from.
Part of it was due to the fact it had been a long time since I’d been in the pool…
But another part of it, as embarrassing as it is to admit, was me feeling worried about what the coach thinks of me! Because I was off for a large part of last season due to breaking my foot, and because I missed our first session last week, I kinda have this belief she thinks I’m not dedicated enough, not good enough, or she simply doesn’t like me!
I’m a grown woman, and I am still worried about pleasing the teacher!
Indeed it’s a bit ridiculous.
Growing up, I was a bit of a people pleaser. And although I’ve come a long way, I still do certain things in an effort to make others happy. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, mind you. I mean, it’s nice to be nice to people. We all like nice people. And I do try my best to be a nice person. But there is a difference between wanting to be nice, and needing to please.
Now people-pleasing, as I’ve shared before, is one of the Big Bravery Killers.
And it’s one of the things that can prevent us from doing what we truly want to be doing, and what we’re truly meant to be doing with our lives.
We like gaining approval, recognition, validation. We like being liked.
But sometimes, we can go to great lengths to please others. And to our detriment.
I’m sure you can think of a time you said yes to something or someone, when perhaps you should have said no. And every time you do that, you are then saying no to something, or someone else. And all too often that is you.
Yes, it’s about creating strict boundaries, honouring your limits and taking care of you.
But more that that, it’s about pleasing YOU, above all.
In the famous article, Top Five Regrets of the Dying, which I’ve expanded upon in a past blog, Bronnie Ware shares what she discovered over the years through her work in palliative care. The number one regret of the dying is wishing they had had the courage to live a life true to themselves, instead of a life others expected of them.
And if we’re going to live a life that is truly true to who we are, we may have to do a little less pleasing of others, and a little more pleasing of ourselves.
Now perhaps it’s worth examining the motivation behind this pleasing.
Why are we wanting to please? To make others happy, or ourselves happy? Are we doing things we don’t even really want to be doing sometimes merely to please? And are we ever going to be truly happy if we are only ever doing things thinking and hoping they will please?
Maybe we need to focus less on pleasing, and more on serving.
And I think there is a distinction that needs to be made between the two.
- Pleasing others may elicit actions we don’t actually want to do. Serving others more often elicits actions from a genuine want to do so.
- Pleasing others elicits actions motivated by a desired outcome. Serving others elicits actions motivated by a desired behavior.
- Pleasing others may not stem from us being our most authentic selves. Serving others requires us to be our most authentic selves.
- Pleasing others may not necessarily leave us, or others, feeling empowered. Serving others is all about empowerment.
- Pleasing others may lead to exhaustion, burn-out, failure. Serving others is invigorating, energizing, inspiring.
Perhaps it’s time to switch the narrative… perhaps it’s time to trump service over pleasing.
Because so long as we are looking for others’ approval or validation, we will never get it. Whereas if we are truly operating from a place of service, we’ll likely be operating from our most powerful, authentic, bravest selves. And moreover, wanting to serve means we’re dedicated to making a difference… both with the people around us, as well as in the world.
Perhaps it’s time to re-think. Life is short. Better to spend energy and time with those that already get you, like you, love you.
Maybe I’m going to have to be okay with the fact my swim coach may not like me. I think I’ll survive.
Maybe it’s time to focus on those who get me, and those who I want to serve in my life, instead of those I want to please.
So it’s time to get honest.
Is there a ‘teacher’ in your life that you are trying to please? Perhaps it’s a boss, a parent, a colleague, a sibling, a friend. Are you trying to get them to see you? To give you their approval? To offer validation?
I want to hear from you in the comments below!