The People-Pleasing Pickle

I am one-third of the way to my goal of 30 posts in 30 days!

I read that over-achievers need to learn how to stop and celebrate their achievements.

Back to the article. “How to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think of You” by Michael Gervais. Citation: (Gervais, HBR, 2019)

“If you want to be your best and perform at a high level, fear of people’s opinions may be holding you back. (Gervais, HBR, 2019).”

I love when the first sentence packs a punch. It reminds me of a quote that I thought was attributed to Bill Cosby (but is apparently also attributed to Ed Sheeran 😐), “I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Now, just because I remembered the quote doesn’t mean I live by it. I still find myself in people-pleasing pickles.

Through life experience, I’ve learned how to be curious about my emotions. When I get curious about the need to be liked, I think it’s driven by a couple of things. One is the fear of rejection. Why would someone reject me? Because I am a rejectable human who is not perfect. And why am I not perfect? Well, because no one is. But, again, why am I not perfect? It’s because there’s a deep-seated, perverse, subtle sense that I am fundamentally flawed and unlovable. That sounds terrible, right? But you’ve probably had it, too. Maybe you didn’t unpack it as I did, but it’s just there, sitting around.

One of the most impactful books I’ve recently read is “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Henepola Gunaratana. Check out this excerpt from the first chapter:

“None of us is entirely free from it. We may deny it. We try to suppress it. We build a whole culture around hiding from it, pretending it is not there, and distracting ourselves with goals, projects, and concerns about status. But it never goes away. It is a constant undercurrent in every thought and every perception, a little voice in the back of the mind that keeps saying, “Not good enough yet. Need to have more. Have to make it better. Have to be better.” It is a monster, a monster that manifests everywhere in subtle forms.”

Excerpt From: Henepola Gunaratana. “Mindfulness in Plain English.” Apple Books.

Anyway, back to the article. I DO want to be my best and perform at a high level. And I AM worried that my fear of other people’s opinions might be holding me back. So – what can I do about it? I guess I’ll need to read on to find out.

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