I grew up with very few friends. I was often the last to be chosen for team activities ,which led me to dread group work. In Year Four, I recall one girl, Irony, telling me every day that she’d be my friend (that day) if I gave her my lunch money. So I did. I literally bought my friends at the age of 7. It’s heartbreaking when I look back, and whilst it was a dreadful and damaging experience, it’s taught me many lessons that I value and draw upon in my life today.
My mother avoids confrontation like the plague. She had a cow of a mother, my nana, and sadly mum grew up bending to her every demand. As a result, this has become a deeply ingrained habit of my mothers - to do what it takes to avoid confrontation, or worse still, to do what is needed to try and make people like her. Because if people like her, then she is safe. I grew up much the same - my mum was a very different mother thank goodness (mum is simply a wonderful human) - but I too have felt the need to try and people please. I wanted friends. I wanted to be the one everyone wants to know and hang out with. I wanted my brothers and sisters to want to play with me. I needed to be needed and liked. Sadly, this came at a high price of deep insecurity, feelings of unworthiness, and an overwhelming dissatisfaction with my life. The loneliness penetrated so deeply that it was paralyzing at times.
Which is where my yoga practice became so fundamental in my own healing. My personal journey to love, self compassion and acceptance. Every time I stepped onto my mat, I felt safe. I became curious about the inner workings of my mind and how my body would respond to the mind games I played. And whilst many years later, I continue to face the same insecurities and feelings of unworthiness, they are now something I look upon far more objectively, offering only love to myself in return. For when I do this, suddenly my entire world shifts.
What many years of practice, introspection and experience in life has taught me, is that it doesn’t pay to people please. That we CANNOT please everyone and that life is a far happier landscape when we come to terms with the fact that we cannot and will not be friends with everyone. I’ve had to adopt this mindset as a yoga teacher, for example. My approach to teaching will not, and cannot, suit everyone. And that’s totally OK. Because this now gives me the freedom to give 100% of what I do best and what I believe to the students ready to receive what I have to offer, whilst equally giving those students who do not resonate with me the same freedom to walk away and find a teacher whom they do connect with.
To try and please everyone makes for a very unhappy life. One full of lies and deceit, whether we realise it or not. For if we try to please all, then we are lying to ourselves and to those we are trying to get onside. Rather, when we can show up as ourselves, we invite people to share that journey with us or to choose a different path. And the beautiful part of this, is in knowing that the people who join you are there because they genuinely want to be, just as you genuinely want to connect with them. Whilst the people who would only make life more difficult and uncomfortable for you, as you’re trying to constantly appease them, are no longer a part of that journey.
This all comes down to self respect. Respect yourself enough to know who to invest in and who to let go. To know when you’re speaking your truth and when you’re saying what you think others want to hear.
Be honest with yourself. For if you have the courage to show up in the world in a way that is true to your heart, true to what you value and believe, then you will be in your element.
Sending love and light,