Are you a people pleaser? Here is a little quiz…
- Are you willing to serve dinner one hour later because one of your guests is running late? (I’m not talking about Obama or the Secretary of State…)
- Are you willing to pick up your friend (I’m not talking about your kids) at an airport and disrupt your entire afternoon.. rather than telling them to take a cab.
- Are you always willing to drive to your friends house to meet for a walk rather than asking them to come to you?
- If you were running a road race with a friend and they got injured – would you wait for them?
- Do you spend more time driving to destinations in your car than relaxing in your house?
- Do you avoid confrontation even with a dear friend because you are worried about risking the friendship?
- Do you believe that you must never let other people down by failing to do everything they expect of you even when you know that the demands are excessive or unreasonable?
The quiz could go on and on and on. I’m sure many of you could add a few to this list. You know you are a people pleaser when you can easily say yes to most or all of the above.
(See Jill Rubin’s Quiz for more on this http://www.jillrubin.com/people-pleaser-quiz.php)
For most of us who are people pleasers – we would say that this is our moral compass – the kinder and more generous way to live our lives. It’s a conscious choice we make. We don’t want to see our selves as selfish or self-centered.
Sometimes however – for we people pleasers, our M.O. can be brutal, exhausting and depleting – and we know it.
I got some help on this in the most unexpected way.
Timing is everything. Two of our group of four high school girlfriends came for a 24-hour getaway to my place and it was worth the dozens of texts and calls to pull it off. We were bummed that the other two couldn’t make it but, we knew how hard it was to find a time — so we grabbed the 24 hours and locked it in. (Not canceling the whole visit and rescheduling was a bold, atypical move).
Despite group dinners 6 times a year for the past 5 years, we had never spent more than 2 hours together since our sleepovers in 10th grade. Here we were 40 years later back in the land of overnights and girl time immersion. The visit did not disappoint. From our excited giddy hello to our lingering goodbye we were in sync and the 40 years in between melted away.
Grabbing them off the 4pm ferry, we headed directly to the beach for a sunset cocktail. Walking the sandy path with blankets and cooler, we marveled at our ability to make time for ourselves. We have lived long enough to know the preciousness of girl time cut off from daily responsibilities. We are BA50’s.
Each of us has grown kids in college and beyond. Each of us has husbands and siblings and jobs. Each of us has friends that nurture us who we adore and those we have let go of. We each have survived loss and either tragedy and or disappointment. We have lived full lives and we are grateful.
And still, with all this living there is a theme that carried through every conversation – a theme that gnawed at us – and although we may have voiced it differently, we were each working through the fallout of being people pleasers!
I was struggling with exhaustion from trying to be everywhere – trying to show up because I have always believed that was the right thing to do. Perhaps in the past it was about not wanting to miss out – but over the last few years the theme has shifted from concern for missing out to concern about doing the right thing. I have always believed that showing love is about showing up. That’s how I’ve been programmed. And suddenly – for the first time – I want to stay put. I want to dig in my garden and let the days slide by without being programmed. I want to stay put – be a little lazy and drink up the summer. I want to write and work on BA50 without rushing. I want to spend quality spontaneous time with my husband and friends who are nearby. (But I feel guilty about saying “NO” to stuff that pulls me away).
My sweet friends brought their own stories to this challenge and desire to honor their time and to not feel guilty about saying “NO.” We talked about feeling selfish about “our own time” and not wanting to “BE” selfish.
I was struggling with an upcoming holiday “cousins camp” weekend which my husband and I are happily hosting. The house would be full and we couldn’t accommodate my mom and still I was tortured because she wanted to come and I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Voices of “bad” daughter guiltily wakened me each night and I was sleep deprived and exhausted by the time my girlfriends arrived.
During our 24 hours visit we worked through a challenge we were each facing. We did it in a way that we hadn’t been able to accomplish on our own. Our girl time carried us each out of our spirals and stuckness and launched us toward clarity. We did this for each other. Each of us got our break through. Each of us shared our “secrets”. And no advice column — no self help book could take the place of loving dedicated objective non-judgmental girlfriend time.
So I’m not sure if the answers to the above quiz will change that much for me in the long run– but, at least I am allowing myself a summer sabbatical from a behavioral pattern that has worn me out.
I am celebrating right away this girlfriend visit as the best summer gift ever. A gift delivered by 2 friends who arrived on a boat and who came wrapped in love, trust, compassion and friendship.