I Aim to Please

Recovering-People-Pleaser-Is-that-OK

A new friend recently asked me if I would be interested in nannying for her toddler, since I am home with my little one anyway. My brain was telling me to get as far away from the situation as I could (run! run now!), but I told her I would think about it. And that I would be happy to help the following week while she and her husband were working on some home renovations. No problem! I told myself.

The thing is, I am not really a kid person. I value my alone time, which often coincides with naptime in my house. Getting two toddlers to nap each day is a lot different than getting my own son to sleep. Basically, nannying is not something that I would ever, in a million years, be interested in doing. If my husband and I decide to have another baby we will figure it out as we go, but it will be our baby, and I will be willing to make sacrifices because I love my family fiercely.

It turns out I am not capable of saying what I really think when someone asks me for help.

Hi, my name is Jen, and I am a people pleaser. When someone asks me for something, I try to do it even if it isn’t good for me, isn’t what I want, and possibly interferes with the healthy functioning of my life. I try to solve their problems even though they aren’t mine to solve.

In the end I watched my friend’s son for one whole day, from start to finish. It went well, I thought. I got both toddlers to sleep at naptime, after some struggling and crying, but nobody died or got injured. When my husband got home he asked me about my day, and I started crying and couldn’t stop, thinking about doing it again the next day. It turns out I was doing something that I didn’t want to do, and I had rationalized it to myself by saying that it was the kind and unselfish choice. Really, I just didn’t know how to tell my friend no. I wasn’t being true to myself.

In theory, I like the idea of being a person who has a home open to kids. Where people can drop by whenever, stay all day, and enjoy themselves. I also like the idea of going to medical school, or living on a commune, or opening a nursery for plants, but that doesn’t mean that my personality is suited to those things, either. I am happy to host play dates, help friends in emergencies, and go out of my way for the people that I love, but I get to decide when and with whom to do those things. It is okay to say no, and to let other people solve their own problems in life.

I am now on my way to becoming a recovering people pleaser.

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13 thoughts on “I Aim to Please

  1. Jen, I didn’t think it applied to me but oh God I have such a hard time with this people pleasing stuff, too. It’s good to see it for what it is. Good of you to see, after the tears, that the nanny gig (or that commune!!!) is just not for you. Thanks for the helpful reminder that this is hard stuff and it’s an ongoing process. xo

  2. Sooooooo feel you in the loving your own kids thing. I love my own intensely, but other kids not so much. I have never been a kid person, never will be. I am ok with that. I HATE watching other peoples kids. Older ones in the 6 and up range I’m ok for a few hours, but toddlers…hell no! I need my me time and I get very little at best. Not willing to give it up either. It is so alright to feel how you do and to say no. Especially while trying to get this sober stuff in the bag.

  3. Sooooooo feel you in the loving your own kids thing. I love my own intensely, but other kids not so much. I have never been a kid person, never will be. I am ok with that. I HATE watching other peoples kids. Older ones in the 6 and up range I’m ok for a few hours, but toddlers…hell no! I need my me time and I get very little at best. Not willing to give it up either. It is so alright to feel how you do and to say no. Especially while trying to get this sober stuff in the bag.

  4. I am a chronic people please with low self esteem. This I know as I am lying on my blow up bed on the floor of my mother’s den. I am taking her to chemotherapy tomorrow for the first time. I am here, yet she continues to be nasty, and when my brother calls, I may as well be the cat.

  5. Awesome. A big part of my drinking was to get through situations I put myself in that weren’t true to me. As a musician, I love to play. I would always accept invitations to play. Now sober I don’t neccessarily want to hang out for hours at the venue for my 15 mnutes of glory. It has been a big step to say no, and to trust that the right situation will be there at the right time. I guess Nancy Reagan was right. Just say no.

  6. also chronic people pleaser in recovery. full identified now. get out of the other days, just say it is too much … home renos not a crisis!

  7. I’m with you. I’m getting ready to cut back on saying yes to caring for grandchildren, desperately need a break. I’ve shed some tears over it too. At my age you think I’d know how to say NO. Nope, it doesn’t come easy.
    Sharon

  8. I suppose we could guilty you into giving lessons at the group rate. I mean, it would only be right. I was hoping to get better at this without having to crash and burn to do it. Unfortunately, I had to crash and burn. God forbid anyone think I’m selfish or lazy, so of course I have to go to the opposite extreme. That 1 and 10 thing I tell my clients about all the time. Damn, I am a great therapist. I should listen to myself sometimes. πŸ™‚

    Great post

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