You guys, it has been a strange weekend so far. I was in the middle of a rather whiny post for today about how I need to stop being such a people pleaser, but when it came down to it, the words didn’t feel right. I was given a gentle reminder from the universe (very early) this morning that a personal characteristic can cut both ways.
I am a people pleaser in the sense that I will go to great lengths to make others happy, often at my own expense. This is particularly true of people I know, although I do experience some guilt for turning down strangers sometimes. I suppose for a long time I was a people pleaser in the sense that I planned my life around what would make my family happy. I learned the hard way that I can’t live like that and, luckily, I’ve been able to make some much needed (healthy) life changes. I’ve also found ways to process the guilt trips I get from the family from time to time (bittersweet smile). But I still haven’t been able to find a balance on the other former variation – let’s call it empathy for now.
I’ve allowed my compulsion to help others feel better to land me in quite a few awkward situations, and occasionally some rather uncomfortable ones as well. Friday night I let this whatever override my gut feeling that it was, fundamentally, a bad idea and now I think I’ve helped perpetuate a situation that’s only going to get worse before it gets better. I don’t want to get into the details, but it certainly was awkward and uncomfortable. I was so incredibly relieved when I made it to the safety of my condo, but the experience has totally thrown off my groove for the weekend.
Then this morning (as in about 4:30), the universe decided to send me a gentle reminder that it’s not all bad. We had a power outage and my downstairs neighbor called a little freaked out (yes, the ones who called the cops on me; yes, we are becoming friends now – smile). So I splashed some water on my face, grabbed a flashlight, and headed downstairs to keep her company for a while. After a nap we went to brunch and had a fabulous time! We’ve been tentatively growing our friendship, but we’d both kind of let it lag. I was so happy she felt she could call me, and more than happy to give up a little sleep to provide some comfort/company. I won’t say it totally negated Friday, but it was a nice reminder that sometimes you can actually be there for someone in a positive way. I really needed that reminder.
I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately and – shockingly enough – it’s been pretty positive. I recognize that I allow other people to dictate parts of my life because I have some strange inner need to make them feel better, to help them out somehow if I can. I also recognize that some people take advantage of this trait and it can be a serious detriment to my life. What I need to be better at is filtering out the bad situations and sticking with the good. It takes a lot to say no to someone, especially someone you know. It can change their perspective of you, and you have to be strong enough to be okay with the outcome. I think that I’m in a good place to make some necessary but difficult decisions. I just hope I can do it without over-correcting. Because empathy isn’t a bad quality unless you allow it to be abused. Sometimes, it can bring together new friends – and make for some very entertaining stories!