People Pleasing Cost Me Connection

"Isn't it selfish to put myself first?"

This question is hypocritical for me, and here's why.

I learned somewhere along the way that putting others first was how I got love. 

Meeting other people's needs before my own is a strategy I have to make sure that I am loved. My fear is that if I don't do these things, that that person will feel unsupported, that I'm a bad friend/partner, I'm not contributing enough, and it will impact our connection.

So putting others first is actually about me, underneath it all. And it took me a long time to uncover that, and it's been an even longer practice of choosing something different. 

Doing something different, and shifting the lens to look at myself instead of reading what others need, is directly confronting an ingrained story that if I do that, I won't be loved. 

It's pretty understandable that fear is going to rear up, my survival mechanisms designed to protect me are going to come out in full force.. 

It means anxiety attacks, shallow breathing, and a heavy chest. It's constantly feeling like I need validation that the person isn't going to leave me, wondering if I'll be rejected and often wishing I could bring the words back in my mouth and pretend they weren't said. 

It sounds like the last thing I'd want to put myself through. 

Turns out, however, I do. 

I realized that the cost of people pleasing is that I don't get to show up truly and authentically. I don't allow myself to speak up about what I'm passionate about, what I think, play the devil's advocate and express myself with the people I'm closest with (because, my story says, that's the place where I stand to lose the most). 

Ironically, it costs me the things that build authentic and true connection, which is what I actually want.

The risk is vulnerable. It may mean conflict, it may mean reconsidering my position, it may mean losing someone, it may mean admitting that I was wrong, it may mean making a mistake. 

My inner critic reliably pipes up that there's noooo way we should speak up and it's a great idea to pull my head down and back in to my shell and don't ruffle feathers. 

At which point I have a choice, a choice that I come to again, again and again, to realize I can change the narrative. 

That making a mistake doesn't mean I am a mistake. 

That being wrong is a way of learning and take the pressure off myself to know everything in the universe. 

That disagreement doesn't mean disconnection. 

That I am loved for the fullest expression of who I am

Choosing to face the risk has also meant accessing light, love, laughter and immense joy that I never ever considered possible.

By changing the way I relate to myself, by looking at all the strategies I have for protection my fear of being unlovable, I can actually shift how I'm seen in the world, how I'm heard, and how deep my connections can be. 

I wouldn't trade that reward for anything. 

I'd love to know if this resonates for you, and your experience.