Anxiety and People Pleasing

I've never been conflict avoidant (I could do a one-person Mortified of my stands taken at the wrong time). But being diagnosed with GAD has shown me how uncomfortable I am with personal discord.

Knope-like behavior.

I'll go out of my way to make sure that the people close to meparticularly boyfriends, best friends, and bossesare happy with me. It's like seeking approval, but as it's the daily baseline, it's really making sure the status quo is intact. If things aren't the way they're supposed to be, I hone in on what needs to be fixed, and either get active to fix the problem, or ruminate at length (all of my twenties) on all of the possible things that could be wrong and possible outcomes.

So what's wrong with being a pleaser? People like a pleaser. Knope gets elected (doesn't she? I didn't watch the show after Season 2).

Outwardly, there's nothing wrong with it. But the problem is that working too hard to keep things status quo at all costs can mask deeper problems. They can keep a person from tuning in from what they're really feeling, or changes they may need to make. For me, they've led to big disruptions that happen when I finally "wake up" to what's really happening, as if from a crazy dream.

wiig waking up

Not good.

I don't have the answers. But I think it starts with tuning in. If, like me, you've found yourself in similar patterns in the past and found that it's really, really important that the people around you not be mad at you, you might want to ask yourself why that is.

This part is easier for me to write than to believe: you can't always please the people you want to. They are going to be upset with you at times. Allowing that to happen, and seeing where it leads without trying to "solve" it immediately, might help you down the line.

(Meredith, you should listen to this person, seems like she knows what she's talking about...)

Originally published Jan 07, 2016. Updated March 13, 2017.