When I was a child, I was a parent pleaser.
When I became an adult, I became a people pleaser.
As a new mom and a recovering people pleaser, my initial instinct is to try to make it all better, make my daughter’s pain go away, or distract her with some toy so she forgets her big emotions and can return to being happy.
A few weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house and my daughter, Hunter, was really enjoying playing with her friend’s hot pink Barbie Convertible Car (I mean, who wouldn’t!?) and threw the wildest tantrum when I told her it was time to go home. I became flushed with embarrassment as my child screamed at the top of her lungs, threw her arms around and kicked.
Every cell in my body wanted to scoop her up, give an embarrassing quick wave goodbye, distract her with some candy or a toy – anything that would make her happy and stuff her in the car so we could get home as fast as possible. Let’s erase and forget this ever existed.
Honestly, the people pleaser in me just wanted to make all of her uncomfortable emotions disappear.
But her uncomfortable emotions were a reflection of me being uncomfortable with her feeling uncomfortable.
Still with me?
Kids are honest. They show their genuine emotions as they feel them, and then they let them go after they’ve expressed them.
Adults don’t. We shove these uncomfortable emotions down hoping they’ll go away, but they just fester and erupt at an inopportune time later.
It was probably less than 10 minutes of a breakdown, but it felt like an hour! Instead of running away or distracting from her emotions, I held empathetic space for my daughter and sports casted her feelings, “I know, it sucks to not be able to stay and play with this car. You don’t want to leave. You’re feeling upset and frustrated. Dang! But it’s time to go home now.”
By being her anchor and being empathetic, her emotion lessened. Because I was able to be with her in those uncomfortable times, she could be with herself during her uncomfortable times.
My natural people pleasing instinct is to be the hero and to fix everything so she returns to being happy as soon as possible. I like that role, but it does her no good if I do that.
Basically, I would be teaching her that these uncomfortable emotions are bad and need to be fixed, that she is flawed and that I don’t trust that she’s capable of dealing with Life’s normal circumstances, disappointments and big emotions.
If I try to please her and fix the situation for her, I’ll rob her of invaluable life skills to know she is brave enough to be with uncomfortable emotions, that not all situations work out and that’s okay, that she is worthy and normal to feel all of her feelings and by doing so she can trust her resilience to ride Life’s waves of various emotions.
Tantrums are not bad, or embarrassing, or even need to be squashed. Tantrums are simply an expression of emotions that need to be released.
Being okay with not being okay is healthy and mature. All of your feelings are normal. Feel them.
This advice rings true for a 1.5 year old as it does for me at 41 years old.
Just as I’m parenting her, I’m also re-parenting myself. Reparent yourself to give yourself the advice, nurturing support you needed as a child.
I’m unlearning to fix and please, not only for her, but for myself.
That same people pleaser mentality is also how I used to deal with myself and negative feelings.
In the past, if I experienced a disappointment, a heartbreak or negative emotion, I would normally aestheticize with food, numb that feeling with booze or distract myself with something else so I didn’t have to be with it.
This strategy has never worked for me.
So, I’m working on just being present to the Ebb and Flow of big emotions, trusting that by being with the feeling, it will be seen and it will pass, just like any other emotion.
You don’t have to fix the feeling. Just have to be with the emotion, as it is.
You don’t have to fix yourself; You’re not broken.
By feeling your feelings, you return to your wholeness.
If you’re constantly fixing, numbing and ignoring in order to be happy, you will always be chasing this destination. Happiness is fleeting – just like any other emotion.
By honoring Life’s waves of ups and downs, being with yourself and feeling your feelings fully, you’ll be able to find happiness in the process, build worthiness in your new skills, and trust your resilience that you are brave, mature and kind.
LMK if you’re a people pleaser too and if these techniques of feeling your feelings and letting go of trying to fix are helpful.
Also Mark your calendars because my signature online program, Soul School is back and starts date of October 5th. This course is special to my heart and is a decade of my learning to help you embody your truth: you are enough and you matter. I hope you can join me. SIGN UP HERE TO BE THE FIRST TO KNOW WHEN DOORS OPEN FOR REGISTRATION