The Most Important Thing is That Other People Like Me...Wait What?
All right, so we’ve talked about the fact that when we’re a victim and we feel helpless, we have no power. And when we’re trying to take revenge we also have no power. Today we’re going to talk about what happens when we’re trying to please other people…yep you guessed it, we have no power!
Going back to Karpman’s Drama Triangle, we’re looking at being a RESCUER. What does that actually mean? Well sometimes we’re nice because we think we HAVE to be in order to make other people happy, or we think that it’s our job to 'save' everyone around us. So if someone asks us to do something, we have to say yes…or if someone is upset by something we said or did, we need to change that about ourselves so that they’re not angry with us. I definitely struggle with this! It’s so nice to be liked…It’s actually a very sneaky way to control the situation, because if people like us, then we know we’ll be safe, and we won’t feel lonely or rejected. If that’s sounding a lot like a fear-based survival brain pattern, that's because it is!!
Just like everything else, this stems from early life dynamics. Maybe we saw our parents struggling and we worked out that if we could solve things for them - if we could be happy when they were sad, or we could do the dishes when they were too busy…then we would feel more safe in our environment because there was less stress around us. Our minds are brilliant in coming up with these solutions when we’re younger…because it’s the only thing we can really do to control what feels like a scary and out of control situation!
But the catch is that when this becomes a pattern, when we are trying to be nice and fix everything, we actually lose sight of who we are and what we really think and feel.
We hide behind this “nice” mask, and the real us gets a bit lost…We can end up having a low self-esteem and not having our own sense of self-worth. This is definitely true for me...whenever I’m trying to make other people happy, I end up feeling really bad about myself because I’m so focused on what they're thinking, I don’t even know who I am or what I want.
So why do we get stuck in this pattern? The same reason we get stuck in any other unhelpful dynamic…We get scared and we start thinking negative thoughts that suck us into a vortex where we can’t see anything else. We might start thinking things like:
“I won’t be accepted/loved/cared for...if they don’t like me it must mean that I’m a terrible person...there must be something wrong with me…”
These thoughts are really scary! No wonder they keep us trapped! So what do we do about this? The same thing we can always do when we’re stuck in a survival brain pattern…step back, get some perspective, and change our thoughts…Ask ourselves how we can see things differently…Is there a more helpful way to think about other people’s problems?
The first thing we’ll notice when we can see things clearly, is that we don’t need to take on other people’s emotions and reactions.
Actually, other people's emotions have nothing to do with us!
Remember, we have absolutely no power over how other people think and feel - only over how we respond and react to the things around us. So if someone gets mad at me, I don’t need to freak out that and think it means I’m a bad person, what it really means is that their brain is telling them something scary is happening, and they are reacting to it - it’s their survival mechanism!
Once we get that, we can remind ourselves that saying no is not being selfish. That we can make decisions for ourselves and it doesn’t have to be what anyone else around us would want or approve of.
When we start doing this, we will begin to notice our desire to get involved in other people’s struggles, and we start to see that by rescuing them, we’re actually taking away THEIR power too! We’re depriving them of the experience and learning and growth that can only come from figuring things out for themselves. We can offer support and guidance and comfort, but to think that we need to save them from their situation means that instead of learning about their own strength, they’ll learn that they can’t do things on their own and that they need someone else to do it for them or to change in order for them to feel better.
It can be super hard to do this…these ideas are so ingrained in us, because they're part of our survival mechanism. So the most important thing is to notice what your pattern is… I swear I do the “nice” thing ALL the time. It’s an automatic reaction…If I sense someone else having an awkward moment, I’m immediately trying to smooth things over. If someone is trying to apologise to me I’m all “aaaah yeah don’t worry about it” without even listening to them because it makes me SO uncomfortable that they’re uncomfortable. So…if this is something that happens for you, all you need to do is notice the pattern, get some perspective - maybe talk about it with someone you trust, and then start to ask yourself if there’s another way you can see things. By doing this you allow space in your mind to figure out what you really want and who you really are, regardless of what anyone else’s reaction to you might be.
To hear more about this pattern, check out my Youtube video featuring the fabulous Jules Sebastian talking about her struggle with being a people pleaser.