Episode 54

Perfectionism and people pleasing are not the same. They show up differently and in this episode, we’re talking about what psychologists refer to as the fourth kind of trauma response.

Which one are you: perfectionist or people pleaser? Cheers to getting free from all of it! Listen in🎙

The Motherhood Unmasked podcast with Vanessa A. Harris Episode 54 You Can't Please Everyone

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You Can’t Please Everyone

Hi there. If you’re a mom dealing with the challenge of raising kids while battling the effects of your childhood trauma—this podcast is for you.

A couple weeks ago we talked about perfectionism, particularly in response to parents or other authority figures whose own issues fed unrealistic expectations for you.

Your best was never enough, no matter how much you wanted or needed it to be—even for your own security.

But I didn’t mention the other p word you may think works the same, but it doesn’t. That p word is people pleasing.

And while both perfectionists and people pleasers want approval, the perfectionist is task oriented in their approach. The goal happens outside of them.

But the people pleaser is transformative in their focus. You become whatever or whoever the persons you aim to please desires.

And when that becomes your coping mechanism for life, the list of people you transform to please increases with every grade, every neighborhood change, every sports team, till you have no idea who you are.

You don’t know what you like or don’t like and you don’t honor your voice to make your thoughts known. And because you live a life as an assumed identity, people assume they can speak for you, decide for you, and control you.

Talk about jumping out of the frying pan into the fire!

The method you used to escape abuse bound you up in more of it. And now you feel like it’s too late to change because so many people expect so much of you.

And let’s talk about how exhausting that is. Playing all the characters in the movie called your life, without a place to be your authentic self.

There’s no life in that, and it’s never too late to change.

You taught people to expect you to become what they want and now you can teach them to accept who you are. Will it feel awkward? Yes. Will you feel lonely? I imagine so as people challenge your right to have your own thoughts and the courage to express them.

Some may even leave you when they can’t control you. But I love how Lecrae put it, “If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” You can’t please everyone and Jesus doesn’t want you to die trying, my friend.

He wants you free to be just how he made you. And if you don’t know where to begin, here are a couple places to start.

(1) Invest in getting to know yourself. You’re a good study of people. That’s how you know how to make them happy.

Take that same energy and put it into getting to know yourself. What are your earliest memories of fun as a child? What did you once you dream about or dream of doing now?

What do you like to do when no one else is around? How about investing time in the answers to those questions and see where it leads?

(2) ”No” is a full sentence. And as the queen of “no,” I give you permission to say it without the need for explanation.

Now, as a mom, this tripped me up recently. I asked my daughter about restyling her hair because it looked messy with all of her activity in school and sports.

And she told me no, she wanted to leave it in the current style. And I’m special in that I’m equally as quick to ask someone why they’re telling me no, as tell them “no” without explanation.

I could see her getting frustrated as I asked her why, so when I asked why she was upset, she said, “I’d like to be able to say no and not have to say anything more.”

And in that moment I was proud of my recovering people pleaser!

She found her voice, and though it took her a minute, she honored it. If she could do that with me, someone whose opinion she values, then she’ll be able to do it at school when pressed about more serious matters.

As much as our kids act like they don’t care what we’re up to—they’re watching us. Every step you take in getting free is an investment in their freedom.

Your children don’t need you pleasing them, they need you to pour into them. Pouring into them the wisdom and values that shape your worldview as they foster theirs.

And sometimes they don’t want what you need to pour. They will want you to switch roles and follow their lead. But “no” is a whole sentence for them too.

They’ll fight and whine and tell you you don’t love them. And while you know that’s not true, you’ll be tempted to give in because people being mad at you makes you uncomfortable.

But resist the urge.

Motherhood is a long game endeavor and you’re the mom because you can see further down the road than your child.

Own that by surrounding yourself with a new circle, people who empower you by accepting your “no” when you give it. And depending on the depth of your struggle, there’s nothing like a counselor to help you set healthy boundaries around that.

If you’d like more food for thought on this topic, check out the show notes for this episode at motherhoodunmasked.com/episode54.

While you’re on the site, feel free to browse resources to encourage you on your healing journey from journals to links to finding a counselor of your own and more.

I hope this episode empowered you to live seen, but it’s no replacement for someone trained to help you process your traumatic childhood experiences. Someone to help you find the value in your voice and own it.

It will change your life in a way that positively impacts your children and your legacy.

And speaking of positively impacting your children, please remember. When it comes to you being the mother of your children, you are the woman for the job. I’m rooting for you. Take care.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast should not be taken as medical advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your health care professional for any medical questions.

Food for Thought…

You may think people pleasing is not that bad because you see it as humility. Merriam Webster defines humility as not thinking you’re better than someone else.

But humility is also not thinking of yourself as less than anyone else.

Have you heard of the trauma responses: fight, flight, or freeze? Well, there’s another one called fawn.

Hadn’t heard of that one? Don’t worry. It was news to me too. But it’s how psychologists refer to people pleasers.

And of all the trauma responses, it’s the easiest to fly under the radar. You can read more about it here.

But I’ll close with this twist on an old saying. While you can’t please all the people all the time, you can please some people some of the time. But I’m grateful my faith pleases God all of the time. And that makes life simple and sweet. If you’d like to know more, I’d be happy to share.

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