I Aim To Please! And It’s Costing Me My Sanity.

My sister, sensing my long-term and aggravated stress level, gave me this cute and funny card with a cat scratching a chalkboard with his nails. The inside of the car reads:

The Best Way To Relieve Stress…Share it with Others!

As I look at this card and think back on my first week of April, I ponder my right to happiness, my desire to please others, and the constant suggestions from others to change my attitude, or rather the way I express my discontent.

They say happiness is a choice and everyday I live, I hope I’m choosing right.

I give of myself so much but am I giving away too much? Have I erased my personal boundary lines in pursuit of happiness? And if so, how do I reset them with a stricter stance yet still lovingly give of myself? They say happiness is a choice and everyday I live, I hope I’m choosing right. Decisions. Decisions.

I think as a woman, I tend to overextend myself for the sake of my family, friends, lovers, and my priorities leaving my own needs in the dark. It is the urge to continually fulfill a maternal instinct and satisfy that natural nurturing quality. I believe many expectant and new mothers entitle this stage the “nesting” period. I should not be nesting, I have been a caregiver for 13 years and all of my household members are adults. How can I flip that urge and direct it toward my needs? It is this urge that drives me to create comfort for those around me, as well as for myself, that lead me to become very hard on people that enter my life and bring what I perceive as disharmony. Because of my natural desire to please even those that test my “nesting” boundaries, I allow them to test the boundary limits within my “nest” and ultimately cross them several times without rigid or consistent consequences. And thus, my attitude becomes very sour. I have to be firmer, stronger, and consistent without the acidic after-taste. My desire to please others may end up being an enabling factor and ultimately a recipients achilles heel.  

In my personal life, I must confess, I don’t possess the best attitude when I’m extremely frustrated, hurt, or uncomfortable but let’s be honest, who would? My name does not end in Gandhi or Teresa but I am a work in progress everyday and I am grateful for those times in which I am able to keep my cool. Both in my personal and professional life, I am a nonstop planner. At home, I plan meals. I plan medication times. I plan doctor and vet appointments. I plan family trips. I plan pivotal family events. In my home office, I plan for the present and future growth of my business. I plan for clients. I plan for upcoming and distant events. I plan around editorial lead times. I plan strategy. I plan and plan, and plan, and plan until I pass out and am weary of planning. And I repeat the cycle the next day with my trusty Franklin Covey day planner and iCal. When your priorities stretch you in so many different directions, you’re bound to feel the constraint of stress, and that looming feeling that you’ve given away too much of yourself.

In my professional life, I am extremely driven. I value my work. And I absolutely love what I do. I’m not just good at it, I’m great at it. I am meticulous and I value giving others the best experience I can offer. Growing up, I have always had a knack for making those around me, whether stranger or friend, feel warm, special, and most of all comfortable. I have always–and still, give the most of myself and extend myself to ensure that those around me are content and smiling.

In elementary school, while other students were receiving academic awards, the principal honored me with the citizenship award for being the friendliest in the school. Can you imagine the look on my confused little face? I didn’t even know what the word “Citizenship” meant. As I looked at the certificate in disgust, my mother and father assured me that this was priceless above all other awards. They said that no matter where I went in life, I would be a great person and a true friend to others. It didn’t make me feel better but now, peering from my hindsight lens, it was indeed the best award I could have received. I just wish I understood the boundaries of citizenship but there is no time like the present to learn something new. 

If I’m hard on those around me…it’s because I believe in my future. 

Overall, I have to find my balance and come to terms with the understanding that you cannot please everyone without giving away a bit–or sometimes a great chunk of yourself. And that “chunk” may be vital to your own personal stability and happiness. So if I’m hard, sour, frustrated, stressed, or difficult on those around me, those who choose to walk steadily in my life, it’s because I’m self-preserving and ultimately… it’s because I believe in my future.