“NO is a complete sentence” – Breeny Lee 2020
When I heard these words above they resonated with me. When I heard that people pleasers can’t say no, I felt attacked. I realise now that I have been a people pleaser all my life, but it did not start that way.
When I was younger I was confident about what I wanted to do and how I felt about myself. No matter what anyone said about me or to me, it did not touch me. When I was leaving fifth form (grade 11) I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and I was about to start. Then I caved to the pressure of my grandfather’s expectation and ended up doing nothing I wanted to do.
Being a people pleaser is really a drag and can lead to major anxiety and depression. I realise that there are people who ‘love’ me because they can depend on me to do what they want or expect me to do, but they don’t really know me. They don’t know me because they did not want to get to know me, because it did not matter. Those who do appreciate that I’m not just a ‘nice person’, that there are dimensions to me that make me perfectly imperfect. It is a lot of pressure when people expect you to do and say the right things all the time and when they have known you for some time and cannot appreciate the need for you, to make many mistakes and passionately oppose what they believe to be true. A lot of persons claim to like variety but they only like it in specific persons and put them in the variety box, while you are stuck in the one dimensional ‘nice person’ box they crafted for you. Tragedy strikes when you cannot keep up appearances and break code and show a side of yourself that does not match the box they put you in.
You bite your tongue until you draw blood rather than offend someone or, you stop talking. you find yourself playing a washed up role and get little credit for your efforts. I remember when my grandmother asked me once, when I was much younger if yes is the only answer I can give and I cheekily said”no!” However, I think back on that and looked at how much my life has mirrored that perpetually volly of yeses. It is true that by trying to please others you lose sight of your own path and end walking through worlds of wilderness that you are not prepared to walk though. In such wilderness you have very little strength on which to draw upon, because you are just a ghostly impression of yourself. You turn away and look back again and it has been six years in that wilderness and you wonder where the time went. You have fragmented memories of things that took place in that time and they don’t make one. good. day.
saying yes all the time can work your nerves until they are frayed because all the nos you could have said attack you in the darkest hour of the night. It can cause you to wonder about your purpose, because you are forever the cheerleader and not the star in your own show. There are all these talents and potential that you bury under the weight of other people’s expectations and you wait. You wait for a miracle that will save you from your timidity and resentment of being held back to help everyone that needs helping.
You don’t have to. It is as simple as that. Just as it is simple to say no. It is a two letter word but many people pleasers like myself have a hard time with it. We get so embarrassed because we cannot meet everybody’s expectations, and I mean everybody that we know and want to please. The curse of being nice is that you are never your true self but a character woven; started by someone and elaborated on by you. Yes at the end of the day the biggest contributor to your position is your own misguided acceptance of the role. So, it becomes natural to see yourself as a fraud (whether intentionally or not) and eventually others begin to see the cracks. But because they do not know the hows and whys, they construct a new identity for you, something that does not match who you were are and can be. One that stunts your growth and leaves you going in circles.
So, being a people pleaser stops now. Do not be fake if something bothers you, and be honest with people. Be honest in your actions and by your words about what you stand for and against. Also, no matter how old you get, it is never too late to learn that the most important step in curing this curse, is by learning to say no and meaning it.