April 26, 2009

Deadly Shoulds: "If I work hard to please them, they'll like me."

Are you a people-pleaser? What is your motive? Do you believe that people should like you if you work hard to please them? I found this core belief for myself: "If I work hard to please them, they will like me." Cause and effect, right? Isn't that how we're taught that it works? Work hard in school, you'll get accolades. Work hard at the job, you'll get raises, promotions, recognition. Work hard at your relationship and your partner will love you forever. Let's see how that's working...

"If I work hard to please them, they will like me."

Is it true?

How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought? I am out of my integrity. I say yes to things I don't want, and I forgo what I might want to have or do according to their wishes.

I don't give much thought to pleasing myself, other than believing that their love will be pleasing to me.

My work "for them" comes with conditions. It's not for them, it's for me. I don't realize this, so I blame them when I don't get the desired results. I see them as unkind, ungrateful, impossible to please, and as not loving me. Images: my mother, criticizing me for not being helpful after I've been on my hands and knees for hours cleaning cat hair and roach crap out of her apartment. Feeling devastated when my boyfriend left quickly after love-making in order to go be with his kids. Getting fired from the company where I'd worked for more than 10 years and after many raises, stellar reviews and several promotions. Hearing a speaker at an ashram program saying "There is nothing we can do to repay all that the guru has given us" and translating that as, "I need to work harder to be worthy of guru's grace."

I give away all my power and self-esteem to them. I need them to validate me, and I need this not just once, but continually.

What do I get for holding this belief? Another one of those insurance policies that don't pay out in the end due to some technicality.

Who would I be without that thought? Working hard for the joy of working, or not working so hard. Either way it would be with the recognition that I work to please myself. I would work honestly, doing my best because it feels right or to honor my commitmemts. I would not be manipulative, therefore I would be honest, saying, "No thank you, doing that won't work for me," or asking, "If I do this for you, will you love and appreciate me for it? I only want to do this as an exchange." (People don't talk this way. Why not?) I would not be afraid of losing validation; I would validate myself.

Turn the thought around:

If I work hard to please them, they won't like me. Just as true.
1. Mother: my efforts never moved her.
2. Others: they either like me or they don't, not based on what I do.
3. Job: even though I was a hard worker and bringing money into the company, when the new boss took over he preferred I not be there anymore.

If I work hard to please them, I won't like them. Oh, yeah. With every ounce of effort I put into pleasing people, there are two ounces of resentment.
1. My unappreciative mother; I couldn't stand her when I was working hardest for her.
2. Boyfriends. I didn't respect them when I was using my body as collateral.
3. My job. The harder I worked to keep that job by trying to make the new boss and his cronies happy, the more I hated my job, and resented them for not liking me.

If they work hard to please me, I won't like them.
Absolutely I can find that.
1. No man, for example, has ever made me love him by trying to make me love him; I love to receive flowers, compliments and favors as much as the next person; however no amount of flowers, compliments or favors has ever turned my head if the relationship isn't right.
2. I didn't appreciate many of my father's efforts to please me while I was growing up; in fact I found them annoying.
3. If I'm in a funk, efforts to please me are wasted. You think I'm wonderful, you want to buy me dinner? Thanks, I accept. Well, that didn't work. Now, go.

If I work hard to please myself, I will like myself. That seems like the truest turnaround. Ultimately I can only please myself, so I like myself when I do things to please myself.
1. I like myself when I no honestly and say yes only with integrity...and this is hard work for me.
2. I just love myself when I spend a lot of time to get my home, my desk, my computer files cleaned up and everything's just the way I like it.
3. If I throw a party and I'm very clear that I'm doing it out of joy, generosity, love and because I like parties, I just love myself for doing it. (If I expect people to help me, enjoy themselves, appreciate me and proffer reciprocal invitations, and they don't...I end up disliking all of us.)

©2009 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

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