By Dietitian Jill Place AKA The Good Gut Queen
At 74, I wore her out! I was in St. Petersburg, Florida for a much-needed vacation. After dallying at the Dali (the famous surrealist’s major museum is there), my friend had to rest before the movie we planned that night.
Corinne and I ran the famous acting coach, Lee Strasberg’s, school together in L.A. in the 1970’s. We’ve been friends ever since.
But today I wore her out! So I headed to a local bistro near her house for some wine and bar food while she napped. And ran smack into very chatty (and very drunk) young lady.
She had just quit her cheffing job. And regaled me with horror stories of her horned and fanged ex-boss.
Her verbal pandemonium then straggled to her boyfriend. Evidently he was a prince of many baubles and other values to brag about.
But a strange thing happened a little while later. The prince showed up to rescue her from her drunken tower. No … she didn’t dangle her hair out the window.
But she DID slam shut like a clam. And slunk out of the bar … body looking broken. She cried when I gave her my card.
Corinne and I never got to the movie. So I had lots of time to think that night.I was wondering why ... so many years after we women stumped and screamed for our rights ... that we still can't find our voices.Click To Tweet
After so many years, maybe Anne Wilson Schaef’s prophecy is still true … “Women not only think they’re wrong … they think they ARE a wrong.”
A Guide to End People-Pleasing Forever!
I do think that women, despite their great strides toward equality and empowerment, still think they are wrongs. Because of this, they still people-please just to be loved. By all sorts.
When you people-please, you not only lose your power, fragments of you begin to fly away … and only start to “stick back” when you “stick up” for yourself.
I see it everywhere. It makes me sad. And I wonder sometimes if burning my purple bra and stumping for women’s rights … especially for abortion as I had an illegal one back in those days … were all for nothing.
Because “the people-pleasing clam” still exists here and now. Did my little lost evening with the chatty drunken young lady more than hint at that?
I’m still wondering … and began to scribble down some thoughts in pink fountain pen in my journal while still on my trip to share with you. They’re ideas that helped me stop people-pleasing and find my own voice. And reminiscences that catapulted me into a consciousness of that.
So here’s my little guide to stop being a wrong that I “stuck” together for you …
#1 – End the Drama AKA Stop Being a Victim
“I’m not a victim,” Corinne said. Then proceeded to crowd my ears with endless dramas of people taking advantage of her.
When I pointed the dramas out to her, she said, “I don’t do dramas”. Are we so steeped in them that we’re totally unaware? I think so …
It dawned on me in my vacation downtime that the dramas of life are synonymous with us being victims. And that people-pleasing and dramas also hold hands. It’s all a vicious circle.
I don’t do dramas anymore. It’s probably one of the reason why I stopped acting. Because, then, life was one big ongoing sad scenario.
I also don’t do what I call “write scenarios in the air”. In other words, I don’t try to figure out why other people do what they do (I have enough difficulty sometimes figuring out my own “whys”).
They often don’t know either. And trying to second-guess people rents much-needed space in your head.
I really love this Huffington Post Article, 10 Ways to Stop Feeling Like a Victim Once and For All. It cites things like stop blaming others (a biggie), practicing gratitude (an all-encompassing biggie), and being self-compassionate as ways to deliver yourself from victimhood.
These things do take a a lot of practice. But you’ve got the rest of your life to begin them one at a time.
#2 – You Don’t Need a Man …
This is not about a “man” per se. But about searching for someone to “complete” you. I swear I’ve been getting the “searching for someone to complete me” message my entire life. And, quite frankly, was never very good with the quest.
We women have been been serenaded and inundated with images about it our entire lives. And most have swooned because of them. But a song sung by the female lead in the Sondheim musical, Sunday in the Park with George, clarifies the whole kebosh by trilling … “I am unfinished … I am diminished … with or without you.”
Dot, the female lead, then deserted George and ran off with someone else. And I think, for thousands of years, being unfinished without a man was not only the prevailing thought. But for all except the last 50 or 60, marriage for women was an absolute must.
And my apologies to those in current meaningful relationships. But I’ve never found one personally that “completed” me or treated me like an equal. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a fable.
Instead, I found that I was either being forced into a mold that I never agreed to. Or expected to become the cook and maid … I never agreed to that either. Shades of Judy Brady’s incredible treatise, “I Want a Wife” which appeared in the first issue of the iconic Ms. Magazine.
Still, some of my friends … even those as old as I am … are prone to continue this outdated idea. I recently had a conversation with an old friend. According to her, “… (insert name here … I know you know at least one) is STILL looking for Mr. Right.”
Hey, again I have no problems with those happy in their relationships. And I actually LOVE men. But I don’t need anyone … male or female … to “complete” me. I can complete myself.
It’s … again … a symptom of people-pleasing. Looking for some validation outside of yourself instead of in. Pure and simple … don’t!
#3 – What Do YOU Want?
Not knowing what you want is epidemic with women. Because we spend so much time figuring out what OTHERS (i.e. spouses, children, siblings, parent, the butcher, the baker, and the school crossing guard) want.
In sublimation of ourselves. My mother always wanted to be an artist. But her sister was getting married. And women didn’t live alone in those days.
So she married my father, who was pursuing her. When she finally told me the story (parents never shared in those days … I was well into adulthood before I found out exactly how old she was), there was zero passion in it.
As a matter of fact, there was no love story there. Gone … the artistic aspirations. So she tried to make her daughter do them for her.
Long story short … I wasn’t a good enough artist. But I WAS a better actor and pursued it ferociously. Something that my mother rued until she died.
I knew what I wanted. But most women are not so lucky. With all that negative reinforcement (we do much better as a species sopping up negative instead of positive stuff) we tend to get inundated with errata that often doesn’t jive with our dreams. The victimhood and man-search doesn’t help either.
Or you might want to focus first with my Micro-Mindfuls … short, sequential snippets of mindfulness. Mindfulness can switch you immediately from stress to sweet. And creates fertile ground for change.
#4 – It’s a Muscle …
I’m going to make this short with dollops of superlative sugariness. The best way to start this process is DO SOMETHING!
The articles I’ve given you have lots of ideas. Or start by breathing and saying bye-bye to stress with Micro-Mindfuls. Whatever you do, make a plan and start somewhere.
FINALLY – FIND YOUR VOICE!
I’ve often said to clients that there is one person in a family that I call “The Truth-Teller”. And that they’re usually it.
The “Truth-Teller” tells the truth as they see it. Often, what they say is diametrically opposed to the climate in the family. For that reason, they are often ostracized and called names like “Black Sheep”.
I was one of those. I never fit into my family. “Truth Tellers” often feel so out of touch with humanity that they are either prone to mental problems. Or they seek psychological help to figure themselves out.
I was the latter. I still remember Corinne towering over me as I was wrapped around the toilet base in a bathroom stall at Strasberg’s … weeping. “I think you need to go to my therapist”, she said. Her therapist saved my life.
I think I was born a “Truth-Teller”. But I also started taking singing lessons at the age of 8. And continued on and off until I stopped acting and singing in my early 40’s. Which actually made my truth-telling more challenging.
Even though my voice was honed and horn-like (and booming), it took a long time for me to actually say things without fear or stress that that the other person would be offended or retaliate. In other words, I was still people-pleasing, even though I found my voice early on. And needed to stop
Which is where we women all need to go to have our voices truly found. Ask for what you need. Say what you mean. And realize that it may take some time to do that in a way that makes you proud.
After all, you alone can figure out what YOU want. And once you do, you can allow others to do the same.
Finding you voice … without people-pleasing or fear of recrimination … is the path out of being a “wrong”. Remember … it’s a muscle. So flex it.