Monday, July 14, 2008


"Hello. My name is Karyn and I'm a people-pleaser."

Well, I'm a recovering people-pleaser and conflict-avoider. From childhood through most of my 20's, it was really important for everyone to like me. I bit my tongue a lot. I often gave in just to keep the peace. I held on to people that I needed to let go of because being liked and not having tensions and hurt feelings was so important.

But making everyone happy was exhausting. I was stretched too thin and stressed to my limit. That's when I realized that many of the people I was so intent on pleasing were not concerned with pleasing me. While I was busy trying to meet, and even exceed their needs, it wasn't being reciprocated. My needs were not being met. And I didn't even like some of these yahoos!

I finally asked myself : "What if everyone didn't like me?" Would my world fall apart? Would I suffer? Would I be alone and friendless? Would I become a modern-day Eleanor Rigby? What if I said, "No, I can't do that right now?" What if I said, "Sorry. I can't. I have some other things I have to take care of?" How bad could it be?

So I started saying no. I started setting boundaries. I decided what was acceptable for me and what was not. And you know what, it wasn't so bad. It wasn't bad at all. Truth be told, it felt good.

I'm not saying that I just walk around randomly saying no just to say no and to be difficult but if what's being asked of me is too expensive, too time-consuming, too difficult for me to manage or will put too much on my plate then I say no. I don't mind pleasing others as long as I'm pleasing myself as well.

Sure I can loan you $50 if I have it but if all I have until payday is $55, then the answer is no. Sure, I can babysit your kids at the last minute, but not if it involves changing plans I made months ago and am looking forward to.

I also started speaking up for myself. Since I still am not a big fan of conflict, I learned how to do it in a way that was tactful and respectful and not full of hostility and emotion. "No, it is not okay for you to raise your voice at me." "No, I don't appreciate you cancelling out on me at the last minute." Or in the case of my chronically late friends, "I don't like waiting over an hour and a half for you to get ready!" (and if you are reading this blog, you know who you are!)

The best part was that I didn't lose any of the people that I wanted in my life and the ones I did lose needed to get lost anyway.

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