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How to stop trying to please others?

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Old 08-28-2008, 10:28 AM   #1
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eternitybc HB User
How to stop trying to please others?

I seem to live my life trying to please other people. I'm 25, and hate making waves. It's how I grew up- my mother guilted me into doing what she wanted (in a variety of ways) to the poitn where I now have a hard time making my own decisions. At least,thats my 2 minute self diagnosis!

Point in question is my partner- I tend to go along with what he wants. He's not very domineering, at ALL! In fact, he's very easy going- when we face a decision (dinner, what movie to watch, etc) we both say- I don't care, what do you want? I really don't care most of the time, so it's easier to go along with whatever he decides. or I'll throw out suggestions and he'll pick. SO it's not him at all, it's me.

Reason I'm writing this- he doesn't want me to ride a motorcycle. 2 years ago I took the course, but didn't finish my license (test). So this year his brother decided he wanted to, and I got right back into it. Short story- his brother bought a bike yesterday,a nd I paid for half, so we'll share it while we're learning. I feel sick today, cause now i have to tell my partner.

I'm an adult (26- theoretically I am anyways) and I shouldn't change who I am to fit someone else, right? So why do I feel so uncomfortable, that I went against his wishes and he won't be happy? Why can't I be myself, an independant girl who's in a relationship? Why do I find it so hard to keep my own identity, and discover who I am outside of the relationship?

He won't do anything when I tell him, he'll just be worried about my safety (despite courses- and worry is justified, I admit! they're dangerous). After a few days it will blow over and he'll get used to the idea, but why am I SO incomfortable at the thought that I'm doing somehting wrong? Logically, I KNWO it's not wrong to have different interests, and he won't approve of everything I do in my life- but that shouldn't stop me! He's not my parent! Am I messed up ?

Side note- This isn't the first time I've "made my own decision". I took diving courses, went diving, travelled for a week to NY on my own (he hated it), took the coruse the first time (motorcycle), etc. Stil, I've been with him 8 years. I'm TONS better than I was 8 years ago- more confident, comfortable with us, etc. But I still get knots about this stuff. Liek I'm scared he'll leave me. I know he won't, but I am. And even if that were the case,Iw ouldn't want him! Logically i know this. So.. why am i so worried? Typing this out helps! I feel a bit better

Last edited by eternitybc; 08-28-2008 at 10:38 AM.

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Old 08-28-2008, 10:54 AM   #2
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Re: How to stop trying to please others?

sounds like you're co-dependent......that's the fancy word for a people-pleaser.......
read the book co-dependent no helped me

Old 08-28-2008, 10:58 PM   #3
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Re: How to stop trying to please others?

You do not like conflict and something in your upbringing or past experience nurtured that in you. I was that way because my mom never wanted to make waves with anyone. Your self esteem could use a boost.

Know what helped me? Research and reading about learned helplessness and assertiveness. Then, surrounding myself with assertive people allowed me to practice what I know I should be doing and thinking. I had to change my mindset: my thinking and the way I rationalize things was a little out of whack. I had to learn to redirect how I think and process information.

I did a lot of reading and a lot of practice. Good luck to you.

Old 08-29-2008, 02:35 AM   #4
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Re: How to stop trying to please others?

Uhm, I don't know. To me, there is a lot more here under the surface...

Probably, it is not only the question of stopping trying to please the others. Actually, I don’t think this is much of a problem, but that is me, ok? Although you say you are more confident now, I think there is still for you an issue of lack of self-confidence and a certain hyperactivity to compensate for it. It's not hyperactivity in the sense of doing many things at the same time, but doing one thing, then jumping to another, without a follow-up. And then long intervals when there is nothing to do and a refusal to choose (going with the flow). My impression, right? It's also a conflict between wanting to be independent and seeking approval. Here lies the crux of the matter.

Ideally, you should find a point of equilibrium.

I don't think it is intrinsically wrong to want to please other people. After all, that's what makes life fun and valuable, isn’t it? Otherwise we all would be living on islands. But of course it is wrong to keep pleasing people when you have to keep betraying yourself all the time. This would be like selling yourself cheap.

In a relationship, of course you have to give and you have to take. To give with pleasure and to take with gratitude. Maybe that’s lacking for you, too. You don’t give with pleasure because in your mind this is just like trying to please (this would read as lack of personality). And you don’t take with gratitude because you are afraid to listen in the first place and not be approved (this would read as dependence). But what is really wrong with a small dose of dependence? Aren't we all in fact dependent (to various degrees) on one another?

I think it would help you to communicate more frequently with your boy-friend. Don’t hide your plans, because this reads as lack of trust and insecurity. Do things mainly because you really want to do them or because they are really useful and not only to spend your time, money and energy and then drop it. Try to have a more consistent agenda. Try to engage your boy-friend in your activities without pushing. You should listen to his warning and advice as much as he should listen to yours. He is not your parent, but he may know things that you ignore and may have insightful points-of-view. If on the one hand neither of you should tell each other what to do, on the other hand I don’t think both of you should do things that one of you totally disagree with. When there is initial disagreement, you have to produce your arguments and try to reach a middle ground, if you see what I mean. This is feasible, in most cases, as long as your boyfriend is also a reasonable person. (If he can't negotiate, then you have a problem here.) In the end, he may not totally agree with the course you have chosen, but since you and he will have negotiated certain conditions, he will probably not totally disagree. Don’t confound independence with rebelliousness and stubbornness. To me, independence is an ability to negotiate and flexibility in your plans. Conflicts are to settled rather than avoided or feared.

I think it is this kind of openness that makes relationships work and last. But if you want total freedom to be able to do whatever crosses your mind in your own terms, then it's better to become a recluse.

Last edited by pendulum; 08-29-2008 at 02:40 AM.

Old 08-29-2008, 05:27 AM   #5
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Re: How to stop trying to please others?

Well, maybe this is a step in the right direction for you? You are making a decision and doing something you want for you for the first time. It's scary, I know. I can understand your partner being worried for your safety (I would be the same way if my husband got a bike) but in the end it is your decision. If it's something you want you should do it.

I also agree with rosequartz that you may find that book very helpful.

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