I have long believed that I am helping other people by telling them what they want or expect to hear. I will show them emotion that I do not truly feel, and constantly give them validation while I meanwhile invalidate myself and my own feelings. It has left me sadder, lonelier and angrier than ever, but what I have not realised until now is that, in the end, it often just hurts them as well. This is the truth that never occurs to many people pleasures. While well-intended, people pleasing really does no one any good.
Six years ago I was in a very unrequited relationship with a man I met when I started university. I made the mistake of telling him I loved him, when really I didn’t know the meaning or impact of those words. He ran with those words and they propped up all his fantasies about us. He got more and more attached to a closeness that wasn’t really there and to a person who didn’t really exist, and in the end it broke his heart terribly. I now find myself in a similar situation where I am hanging onto words and promises I don’t know whether this person meant. It is cruel to get your hopes up over something that is not going to happen. I’d rather people not be nice to me than say flowery things which have no substance. Realising what people pleasing does to both parties, I’m hoping I will be better able to speak my true feelings and resist the temptation to say things I don’t mean. I am starting to really admire people who are blunt, make it clear right from the start where you stand with them, and are bold enough to speak their truth, even if it risks offending others. They may not get credit for it but their bluntness is, in many ways, one of the kindest things they can do for us.