As kids, individuals take in information implicitly and explicitly. Implicit information is implied or things we see and interpret. Explicit learning comes from things read, taught in school or by adults or peers. Messages are taken in all day; every day and these messages start inform each person about what the world is like. Is the world a safe place? Are people good? Is love easy? Am I loveable?
Experiences as children are echoed in adulthood. If an adult is struggling in friendships and romantic relationships, it is often because of incomplete or even harmful messages received as a child.
What did you learn about love in your family of origin?
For rare individuals that grew up in homes where love was easily shown, they likely learned that love was easily given and received. For most people, the messages are a bit more muttled and confusing.
Arguing or disagreeing
Lots of people grow up fearing disagreements and anger. Many people are taught that anger is bad and destructive, even dangerous. While people can behave in destructive ways when angry, anger isn’t really the problem. Anger is a healthy human emotion, there is a lot of energy in anger and it can motivate people to make important and necessary changes. For those who grew up being taught that anger is dangerous, they struggle to allow conflict in relationships which inhibits growth and breeds resentments.
When important topics are avoided and resentment is allowed to grow, the relationship slowly takes hit after hit and can decay to the point where it cannot be repaired. “It’s not what you say it’s HOW YOU SAY IT.” It is important to express needs and discuss conflict in every relationship and it is equally important to be mindful of how you express feelings and needs.
In Brene Brown’s first TED Talk, she talks about a mask each person wears. That mask is necessary in everyday life but each person needs people in their life they are able to remove the mask for in order to get the love and acceptance required to feel valued and accepted as their true self.
For those that grew up learning (implicitly or explicitly) that the only way to be loved is to give and give until it hurts then give more and not to expect anything in return, taking this mask off doesn’t feel possible. If someone wants to love and accept the people pleaser as they are, the people pleaser will often be confused and put off and may even terminate the relationship (platonic or romantic) because they don’t understand how to exist in that kind of relationship.
The single biggest challenge for a people pleaser, is to make their needs at least as important as everyone else’s. Difficult but not impossible. That means making anger acceptable (that’s not the same as screaming and violence), permission to ask for what you want and need and the belief that they are at least as important as everyone else.
When ready, we can all chose to stop living with the unhealthy messages we were given as children.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to work on having the life you want, call me and let’s get started!