“Do not trust to the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.”
“People who want the most approval get the least and people who need approval the least get the most.”
“There just isn't any pleasing some people. The trick is to stop trying.”
It has occurred to me that I have spent an inordinate amount of my time, of my life, trying to please others. Sometimes I try to please people I love and who love me. Sometimes I try to please people whose only interest in me is exercising power over my life or using me to get what they need. Sometimes I do something because I think it will make them happy and then find out that what I did wasn’t what they wanted or needed. Sometimes I try to please people who don’t even like me. This has affected me financially, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. While it’s not necessary to discuss specifics or how I acquired this problem, I do need to understand the effects of my behavior. I also need to determine a better strategy for my life.
The affects are anywhere from mildly annoying to devastating. Some of the worst decisions I ever made in my life were made from a desire to please people and win approval. What I learned was that the people I was trying to please didn’t care, or withheld their approval anyway.
I understand two things:
1. Any approval I win from others is temporary.
2. Approval is usually conditional upon behavior, not on who I am.
3. If I don’t approve of myself and who I am, the approval of the entire world won’t be enough.
I have some decisions to make. They aren’t easy because they affect others. I want to consider everyone involved, but I also want to consider myself. In some ways I have allowed others to treat me as if I don’t exist. I don’t have easy answers for this, but I need to change the way I’ve been doing things. Perhaps I can consider the following guiding questions:
1. What do I want or need?
2. What does the other person want or need?
3. Is there something behind the want or need that needs to be addressed?
4. Am I willing or able to let go of what I want or need in a way that leaves me with peace and self-respect?
5. Am I willing to accept the consequences of meeting my needs?
Again, these are guiding questions. I don’t think formulae can be applied to all human interactions, especially those involving potential conflict. I think the first question is the most crucial. Often I don’t know what I want or need. I’m torn between my own desires and the desire to avoid conflict or anger. I have often disguised this with being selfless and caring, but cowardice is always selfish. Giving into fear is rarely the same as being a loving person.
If I know what I want, I can start there. My biggest problem has been not being clear on that. That’s what I need to know in all areas of my life. Then I have a much better chance of moving forward. Then I can Get Started and Keep Going…because, more than approval, that’s what I want.