A Letter From A Recovering People Pleaser

It’s often very uncomfortable to share with someone how you’re REALLY feeling, especially if you feel like your boundaries have been crossed. It feels uncomfortable because there are a lot of unknowns:

  • Will this make them uncomfortable?
  • Will they judge me and think I’m being ridiculous?
  • They may not trust me anymore…
  • Will this have a permanent negative impact on our relationship?

I’ve noticed a lot of fears surface for me when I’m faced with these kinds of “real talk” situations. Historically I have held my real feelings in. I’ve kept them to myself and buried them. Recently I’ve realized that when I do this I’m sending myself a very strong message: “You’re feelings don’t matter and don’t deserve to be shared – best keep them to yourself if you want others to actually like you”. For the record this never feels good and often leads to resentment and comes at the expense of true connection. Not exactly ideal.

Naturally, we all want to be liked – especially by those we are in relationship with, weather it’s friendship, a romantic partner, or a professional relationship. So of course we develop a narrative that protects us from things like rejection, conflict, and judgement. Those uncomfortable feelings that come when you’re on the outside of an inside joke, or worse you are the joke (anyone else having flashbacks to middle school?).

But the the problem with this approach is that when we hold back how we truly feel from others, out of fear that we may upset them or make things awkward…we in fact distance ourselves. We create a barrier that blocks any possibility of authentic connection.

TBH I’m just waking up to this realization. I never saw myself as a people-pleaser. But when I got real with myself, I realized that I often default to telling people what they want to hear. I hold back from sharing those potentially messy/uncomfortable things and in doing so minimize myself and disrupt all potential for genuine human connection. I can think back to so many little moments with friends, family, or peers – where I felt some kind of way, but never said anything because I didn’t want to “ruin it” or rock the boat. I didn’t want to risk the friendship or the way things “have always been”. I didn’t want to make the other person feel uncomfortable (which would make me uncomfortable).

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, I’m very proud to share that I recently got something seemingly small off my chest – I say “ seemingly small” because I had told myself it was insignificant and trivial. But that was before I was being honest with myself. I realized that by minimizing the significance of how I was feeling, I was minimizing my need to be heard. This is the part of self-love that doesn’t get as much attention in the wellness space. I believe self-love starts with acknowledging how we feel and honoring it.

With a pit in my stomach I made the decision to own how I was really feeling with this person. I felt like my words hung in the air between us as I shared. But the pit began to melt as I was met with their sincerity and understanding. It was like that feeling of relief that comes when you exhale after holding your breath for too long. God it felt good to be so honest. Later I felt gratitude, to have someone in my life that I can be so open with, who can hold space for me, who feels safe, and still sees me the same way even after I share my truth. What a gift.


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