Like many women, I suffer from CPPD: Chronic People Pleasing Disease. Getting diagnosed with Cancer has helped me to become less of a pleaser, which apparently is cancer’s “gift” to me. But even though I’ve been told that I have only a 50% chance of living five years, I still insist on squandering my days being a people pleaser.
The really insane part is that I often do it with people I don’t even know, yesterday was a perfect example. I was fighting some type of infection and I was dealing with an episode of depression. I felt so much grief over my mangled body, the loss of my former high-energy self, the intestine sticking out of my tummy, my missing female parts. I wanted to cry and scream and yet nothing came out…except a lipsticked smile.
While in a law office getting paperwork notorized, I found myself having to explain Mesothelioma. So I stood there, feeling ill and deeply depressed and then like a PR Wizard I proceeded to spin an almost upbeat tale about my experience with this “crazy cancer caused by asbestos!” The pre-programmed Chronic People Pleaser in me didn’t want to make anyone feel “uncomfortable,” so I pretended that everything was essentially fine. And this is what I do almost every single day. It is exhausting and yet like an addict I can’t seem to stop.
Just as a woman might hide her bad skin under a layer of foundation, I hide my true emotions under a layer of faux “happiness.” I know this behavior only worsens my depression because each time you don’t speak your truth, you lose a little bit of your soul. What would happen if I started saying “no.” What would happen if I started saying “I feel desperate.” What would happen if I made someone feel uncomfortable? What would happen if I let people be angry with me? I need to find out, my soul is begging me.
I found myself doing the same thing when my dad was dying. Instead of telling people how I actually felt I’d make jokes all the time. Some of them were even jokes rooted in truth like “oh how are you feeling?” “Me? I’m great! I mean, my dad is dying but besides that I’m pretty good.” I came to find out afterwards that my friends hated it. They knew I was trying to cover up how I was actually feeling in an attempt to make them feel better about the situation. Finally one of them pulled me to the side and laid it all out that obviously they knew I wasn’t ok but I had to stop pretending for them. They felt like they weren’t able to do their job as friends because I was constantly putting on the happy face. I say give being “real” a shot… you’d be surprised at how much better it makes you and the people around you feel.
Thx you for the note! You are totally right and I’m going to work on this issue.
I’m sorry for your loss. Take Care.
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I am sorry that you are dealing with some kind of infection AND are depressed. It must be extremely hard to try to deal with all the people you must and try to sugar coat a rotten disease. I know you may want to avoid twisting yourself out of shape if you have to explain to a stranger in a public place or even on your phone, when you try to discuss the down and dirty truths of what you are dealing with and it is often hard to make that quick decision “should I be honest about how bad this is. I guess you have to ask myself, am I being a people pleaser in this situation or is it just that I don’t want to spend the emotional cash to tell it like it is. I often have the same dilemma, although I am not in your situation. I find going over the details of my disability with someone who really doesn’t need to know is just too much energy wasting. Then a little bit of truth bending is not a situation where you will lose your soul. If you feel you are losing your soul then you probably need to stop putting sugar coating on things just to please someone else or make it less awkward. I send you a heart felt hug. I love the pictures of your sweet dog.
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I love the idea of emotional cash. I think u r right, sometimes it actually is easier to just bend the truth a bit. Thank you for reminding me of this distinction.