We all have that sense of belonging, need for love, acceptance, to be liked and in order to achieve this feeling of content we often can stray from our own feelings and needs in order to please others. But when does this become a detriment to our mental health?
Looking back I used to often find myself in situations where all I ever wanted was to be accepted, to feel worthy enough, and in order to do that, I guess without consciously knowing, I used to please people to the extent that my feelings never even came into it. I would dismiss my feelings, dismiss all the things I wanted to do, dismiss my needs, and why? In order to please everyone else to make them happy. I guess I have always been kind natured even as a child growing up, but beyond that kindness I felt the need to go further and sacrifice my own well being in order to just feel wanted.
Why do we get these feelings of inadequacy? Feelings of low self worth? Maybe through experiences, how we have been treated in the past, and a lot of the time it can derive from those past experiences where we have been made to feel inadequate, not worthy, not good enough. May be we have felt left out, not part of a group, not been given the attention we deserve. These sort of experiences can have an effect on how we see ourselves, and in return, for survival we do what we can in order to become a part of society.
“For survival we do what we can in order to become a part of society”
Sometimes we do not know it but our behaviour can reflect our feelings, the actions we take and decisions we make. I can knowingly say that looking back I have often tried to please others, making others happy, and thinking about it now, why did I do it? I did it because I longed for that feeling of acceptance, or to maintain acceptance. Did people take advantage? Yes of course they did. They can see you as easy to manipulate, a walk over, they take advantage of your vulnerability.
Taking it further
One of the things I believed is that if my looks are appealing to others then maybe I will be more accepted. Maybe if I had a thinner body, was toned and looked ‘better’ then maybe I would be more pleasing to others and I would be more happier. This is one of factors that contributed to my eating disorder, the feeling that I need to look a certain way, need to be more aesthetically pleasing to others, then I will gain more worth. This is where diet culture plays a big role in society. This diet culture we live in can make us believe that we are only worthy when we are in a smaller body, that you should look a certain way and that way is better. Constant advertising of weight loss which normalises this way of thinking, preying on our insecurities to make profit, knowing that because of this society we live in that we will buy into the latest slimming products, the latest fad diet; and we do buy in to it, in the hope that we will fit society’s standards of looking aesthetically pleasing to others. Why has this become normalised? Why do we believe that a smaller body is better and healthier? Because we have to face this diet culture everyday, from hearing others talk about it to seeing diet/slimming products in shops, adverts, posters, television. It surrounds us. The more and more this is promoted then the more we believe we have to look a certain way and be pleasing to others. I am here to say WE DO NOT. This diet culture is what can cause the onset of an eating disorder and many other mental health issues. Our Self worth can be mistakenly defined by whether or not we fit the ideals of society.
“Beauty should have no standards”
Beauty should have no standards, we do not exist in order to be appealing or aesthetically pleasing to others, we are not here for others’ viewing purposes. We do not need to change ourselves in the hope that we will become worthy, resulting in acceptance. If you are not accepted for who you are then are those people really worth your time?
It wasn’t until adulthood I started to realise these traits of ‘people pleasing’ were actually effecting me, I started to recognise my behaviour and question myself – why am I doing this? Is it worth it? Is pleasing others really worth my own happiness? No it is not.
“We need to surround ourselves with the right people”
I have lost friends, because I no longer serve a purpose to them, because I have rebelled against serving their needs, but that’s ok because I am now serving my own needs, and if anyone tries to stop you from doing that then are they worth being in your life? Admittedly I still find myself falling into the traits of people pleasing, but I am trying to re-teach myself to say ‘no’. ‘No’ if I do not want to, ‘no’ if it means jeoperdising my own health, ‘no’ if it is just to make myself feel more accepted. I now feel I do not require others’ approval or confirmation that I am worthy, because we are all worthy.
Do not be afraid to walk away if you have to. Sometimes we fear by doing this we will have no one, but do we really want people in our lives that take advantage of our vulnerabilities? We need to surround ourselves with the right people, people that will be there for us no matter what decisions we make, that will not be annoyed, upset or make us feel guilty for standing up for ourselves and saying ‘no’. Those closest to us should be understanding of our needs, not just their own, and accept us for who we are, we should never have to feel the need to please others all the time. You soon start to realise the ones who will stand by you, those are the people that will not let you put yourself down, will consider your feelings and love you for you.
“You are good enough just the way you are”
A lot of us have fallen into that trap of fitting in to society’s flawed standards, but if we think about it, if we no longer feel the need to please others or strive for that acceptance then everything should fall into place, we may feel less anxious, less worried about what others think, about how we look, about decisions we make.
You do not exist to please others, the only person you need to please is yourself. If pleasing others causes such a detriment to your well being then is it worth it? Most cases no.
You are good enough just the way you are.