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Pleasers on Parade

by Dr. Candice Cook

Are you one of them? Working to make a lovely, perfect home, with lovely perfect children and a handsome, perfect husband who hopefully remains perfectly devoted to you.

What’s the problem? It doesn’t work! Nothing is perfect, or if it is, it doesn’t stay perfect for long. Further, no matter how hard you try, people aren’t pleased with you. They either want “more” or they don’t appreciate your gifts of service. And this brings us close to the center of the problem. Pleasers try to manipulate and control with love. The old “you can catch more flies with honey” ploy. Sometimes, if a person (and they are usually women) is really clever at it, as well as tireless, with a high tolerance for guff (this mostly from her kids), she will succeed in creating a perfect façade for herself and her family. And behind this façade is not love, but fear, terror really, that life is threatening to destroy her. Every aspect of the external world presents a danger. She’s not safe and has to charm everyone to keep them behaving in a way that makes her feel safe – that is, gives an illusion of safety, the Perfect Façade.

And tense! The hallmark of the Pleaser is the incredible, unbearable tension she suffers. Always on the lookout for signs of displeasure in ANYBODY and working to sooth, fix, placate and get that person to approve of her. And resentment! I mean, really, how much can a gal (or guy) take? You work like a dwarf in a goldmine, slaving for the love you need, and you can never, no never, find enough to allow you to rest in safety. It’s frustrating. It makes you mad. You must hold the “bad” feelings in. Hide them. And you get more tired, which makes you madder, which you have to hold in, which…get the picture?

So, what is the poor woman afraid of again? Life? Yup. Being right here and now – and of feeling (not thinking). Noticing the feelings (not the thinking). I’m talking about the physical sensations in your body: “Does my stomach feel tight? Fluttery:? Queasy? Is my chest heavy? My shoulders tight?” These feelings tell her she is not worthy of love, and without love she will die. Now that’s scary. If this describes you, take a moment. Close your eyes. Breathe, and watch (i.e. notice) your breath, feel the air coming in your nose and down your throat. Notice the movement of your stomach or chest or shoulders. Notice especially, where you hold your breath. Then ask yourself, “What do I feel in my stomach, etc.” After each question, stop and feel for about 10 seconds. Just notice, that’s all! Don’t judge it (“My shoulders are too tight. I should relax”), or worry about it or scold yourself.

Just notice and feel?

That’s it.

So, how in the world is all this breathing and noticing going to help, you may well ask. Here it is folks. It puts you in touch with the pain behind the pleasing and the perfectionism. “Why would I even want to do that!” you exclaim with horrified dismay. Why? Because it’s the only way to get rid of the pain. Feel it, without doing anything. No weeping, no wailing, no gnashing of teeth, no lashing out, no acting out. Then the energy behind the pain is transformed into e-motion (energy in motion) and into life force – for you to use. You ask me what makes me think you’re scared? Because, if you’re a pleaser, by definition, things are not perfect enough. Or you have to keep demonstrating your devotion for fear the other person would stop loving you. And you need this person (or that person) to feel safe. What makes you not safe? You have ignored your feelings (I’m not talking about actions here), and that means you have ignored your soul. No wonder you’re scared. You’re operating without the real you. You’ve got the real you suffocating in a cave somewhere. You want use of her talents and her energy, but you want her to suffer the pain of unexplored feelings.

But I’m going to tell you a little secret about feelings. They don’t last! And if you allow yourself to experience them, each emotion is a gift from your True Self, loaded with information, so you can turn that façade of yours into a Living, Breathing, Thing of Beauty.