Growing up in both New Jersey and New York I consider myself a local from both. My journey has been one of curiosity and endless attempts to be true. The greatest obstacle thus far to my truth has been my conditioning to please others as a means of feeding my own esteem and ensuring that I hold a perception of value. You know when you sense a need in another and all of a sudden you are driven to meet the need or offer some guidance. Working in restaurants for many years really enhanced this ability, “to read a room”. Whose glass is getting low, is everyone safe, who is waiting for food, who looks lonely, etc…
Currently my roles are many: they include sister, mother, wife, counselor, woman, friend, neighbor, yoga teacher, co creator, business owner, spiritual teacher, my personal favorite steward of the earth. Each one of these hats calls a different response yet each comes from that desire to please, to serve the other to sacrifice my need for theirs. These attempts to please are to say I love you, I see you, you have value. As a younger me this was a divine plan that kept me insulated with friends and gratitude from all I could serve. Seemed golden until I started to run out of lamp oil and my own light was flickering. My first attempts were to get help, try to enlist others to my cause. I found that some were willing to sacrifice like me but they too were exhausted and often their support was at a cost. Cost such as “now that I helped you there is this unwritten tally board that says you owe me.”
Surely all of us can relate to that feeling of owing someone something, we all have debt and the desire to be free from it is part of what drives us. In the game board of life we all get so consumed, life energy leaking all over, leaving a sensation of hunger and longing. For me pleasing used to keep a buzz around me. The moments where I would walk away stronger after a comment like “Madeline, you are so special, thank you so much, We couldn’t have done it without you.”
I can still remember the distaste I would feel when I would receive the praise, the cards or gifts of gratitude from others.
Of course this response was complicated by my personal struggle to receive. Helping others was good, being needy or taking in did not fit my “ideal” imprint. I realized that I did not have a value unless I was serving and that I innately knew that the solutions and people pleasing was actually a way of soothing my inner experience of not feeling worthy.
Growing up the message of not being worthy was a part of my spiritual teachings and my own shy nature compounded it. Turning 50 I find my focus to be on right relation to myself and knowing my deepest needs. In my experience the universe always provides us with what we need, for me as it often does, it comes in mirrors, so in comes the mirror, this beautiful young 11 year old girl trying to be so good and wanting for everyone especially her mom to be happy. As I listen to her and say it back, her smile brightens, her awareness grows, she is heard and I am revealed right along with her. We are bonding and she is seeing and accepting herself a little bit more cause someone else can understand. Thank you for her timing and presence as I decide to please or not to please.
It all starts with a little girl, the oldest, the youngest, the middle one who wants to be a good girl and really wants to makes the big people happy. She is trying to take care of everything and growing anger and resentment cause she is not doing enough for herself or she is being entitled and hurtful because saying no to someone she loves is so painful. No time to know her deepest needs cause the pull from around her is too great. She and I create a magic book for her to put it all down so she can feel less burdened.
In my own story, life and the challenges in it brought a web of connections. Could they all be co-dependent... Possibly, but now I know the desire to be cooperative is greater as I mature, the need for solace is stronger. The need to know and listen to the voice, the wisdom within is the strongest current.
As a parent the guilt connected to knowing I am only offering my family a watered down version of myself, the left overs, has something to do with how the desire to please is fed. “No son, I can’t play that game with you or learn that song cause I am too busy paying my debts and making deposits in the well of not being good enough.” So here is some money, here is my acceptance but my presence well I am still looking for that it seems to be in my need to please.
So I am challenging you all to notice how your need to please, your feelings about yourself are compromising your intimate connections with your family, more importantly with yourself. Decide where you want to say NO and begin to practice it in small ways.
Take time as often as you can to just be quiet and listen for that small voice singing or speaking, we come whole and complete with everything we need.
So from my heart to yours… Be kind to each other and remember we are all funny and life is a school..
Thank you for not pleasing me!!!