It is some time in 2015 at 2:34AM exactly and I am making 173 cookies.
173 gluten fucking free cookies mind you.
As the whir of the fan oven and the glare from the overhead halogen light bulbs obnoxiously remind me that I am indeed awake and this is not a nightmare, I wonder how the hell I got myself into this in the first place.
Why did the word ‘yes’ come out my mouth when really I meant ‘no’?
“No Sharon I won’t make you 173 gluten free cookies for your Goddamn wedding reception. I don’t have the time, the money or the energy and frankly I’m not sure if we’d even be friends if it weren’t for the fact that we are thrown together on a daily basis because of our jobs.”
But no, little old people pleaser over here went and said “yes, sure thing, for tomorrow? No problem.”
And now here I am thinking that if the gluten doesn’t take down the celiacs then my resentment is sure to poison them.
Back in 2015, I couldn’t cook. If you’d asked me to grill some chicken or boil some pasta, I’d have fucked it up. But baking I could do. Cakes, cookies and pies are my jam. Back in 2015, I was also a people pleaser. So desperate was I for the validation of myself through the approval of others, I often found myself saying yes when really I meant no.
Now, in 2018 I still can’t cook for shit. And I’m still great at baking. But I no longer people please because it doesn’t work and I can prove it.
In this week’s blog, I am going to share with you how I went from people pleasing to having healthy boundaries and how you can too.
Firstly, I must say that there’s a difference between people pleasing and doing nice things for others.
Picking up an extra half-strength-double-shot-skim-milk-no-chocolate Frapaachino for your work wife or cancelling your plans with Downton Abby season 2 episode 3 because your sister has just had her heartbroken are examples of being a good human.
People Pleasing on the other hand is when our very welfare and happiness gets compromised for somebody else’s.
It leads to resentment and victimhood and it always comes from low self-esteem.
Here are some signs you’re people pleasing instead of just being a good egg.
1. You hold resentment in your body which manifests itself in aches and pains, injury and disease. Or you’re intuitive enough to know what resentment feels like, sounds like and looks like. Either way it ain’t pretty.
2. You feel like a victim. And often you can’t see that YOU are the problem (said with love) because it’s much easier to assume that this is the way you deserve to be treated than it is to take the responsibility to change it (this was me through and through).
3. You’re bitter but secretly like the attention that you get from bitching bitterly about how much you do for other people. This was one of my favourite pass times. I was kinda righteous and not in a cute way.
4. You worry that people won’t like you if you say no. We’re all designed biologically to want to be part of the pack - it makes us feel safe because historically being exiled from the tribe meant we couldn’t protect ourselves from the Sabre Toothed Tiger or take down a Water Buffalo for dinner. But you’re not even sure which pack you belong to anymore so you try and please everyone.
5. You can’t remember the last time someone did something nice for you. Fuck you can’t even remember the last time you did something nice for you.
All in all, people pleasing sucks. It’s exhausting, annoying and doesn’t get you the results you’re after anyway (most of the time the people you’re pleasing are so used to you being the ‘yes girl’ they forget to appreciate you).
So how do we break the pattern of people pleasing and so start living a happier life with healthier relationships?
Well I suggest you get a kick ass coach to help you sort through your self-esteem issues. If you’re interested and awesome (which you are because otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this) you can join my free Facebook group That Crazy Thing Called Life where I regularly run free short courses to help you with that very thing.
But if you’re anything like me you want some results like, yesterday so let me gift you my top five tips for instant change.
1. Put down your victimhood because resentment suits no one. Martyrdom is addictive. It’s the quickest way to connect with yourself and a delightful way to avoid taking responsibility. Be a grown up. Resenting other people because you said yes is the behaviour of a 5-year-old. It’s like saying “I said she could play with my Barbie and now she’s playing with my Barbie.” And look, we all do it. I used to do it daily. But one day Brené Brown taught me a trick which leads me to my second point.
2. The trick is to choose a moment of being uncomfortable over a lifetime of resentment. It would have been uncomfortable for me to say no to Sharon when she asked me to make exactly 173 gluten free cookies for her wedding. Tomorrow. But that would’ve beaten the rage I inflicted upon myself (and my partner at the time) as I cried into my Kenwood Kitchen Aid at 2.34am, all to have Sharon seat me at the fucking kids table at the reception. That bitch!
3. Work out who gets your time. Santa had the right idea. Make a list of those who have your back, and those who don’t. If you’re giving, others will take. Now if they give in return, awesome. If they don’t, fuck ‘em.
4. Try saying no and see what happens. It will feel weird at first. But. If you say no and burst into flames, or the world ends, sue me. If you say no and you’re still alive, try it again.
5. Be prepared to let some people go. Here’s the truth, you have taught other people how to treat you. You’ve created a world where people take advantage of you because you’ve let them. So, when you start asserting boundaries, don’t be surprised if you get a little push back. Please, don’t be a dick about it. It goes like this. “Sharon I’m honoured you asked me but I can’t bake 173 gluten free cookies overnight, I have too many other commitments” Now, if Sharon responds with “BUT YOU MADE COOKIES FOR JOAN'S WEDDING”, you explain “I know Sharon, and if I had the time I would have loved to have done the same for you but I just don’t.” What you don’t say is “OH MY GOD SHARON I’M ASSERTING MY BOUNDARIES THESE DAYS! I’M FED UP OF YOU SHARON.” Different.
And look, if Sharon never speaks to you again, let her go with love. Why the fuck would you want someone like that in your life anyway? The people that care about you want you to be truly happy.
As Mark Mason says in his book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck “Giving too many fucks is bad for you” so try giving less fucks to the things that aren’t so important – like gluten free cookies. No one fucking ate them anyway. Turns out resentment really does leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
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Thanks very much for reading. Em x