Is “People-Pleasing” Just Another Form Of Being Controlling?

I know I have control issues and continue to work on them. I think all of us in this world have control issues actually and sometimes I think those control issues mask themselves in strange ways through our behaviors that to us might seem like we’re doing the right thing, but to others, it comes across as controlling. One such way I believe is through “people-pleasing”, a behavior I’ve battled on and off through much of my life, which recently, I came face to face with through an action I took in a men’s group I’m part of.

In one of our meetings a few weeks ago, we were working towards coordinating an upcoming outdoor meeting and barbecue. After much discussion, a date was voted upon and agreed to, after which I realized that a member of the group (and also a good friend of mine) who wasn’t there to vote, might not be able to make that date due to their work schedule. So, I asked the group if they wanted me to contact this person and ask about their schedule. The answer was yes, and so I did. The answer I received from my friend was for a different date than the one the group had already agreed upon. So, I immediately brought that back to the group and made sure I expressed my desire to have this person included in the event. The result? The date got changed to accommodate them, which only led later to far more drama, chaos, and frustration in the group. In the end, my desire to be there for this friend and make sure they got included in that group outing was ultimately a “people-pleasing” action, the consequences of which led to nothing more than the appearance that I had been controlling through it all.

While my intentions were good to include this friend, the better solution would have been to just leave the initial date agreed upon by the group and hope that my friend could have made that date. How many times have I done this? How many times have I tried to “people-please” through what I thought were good intentions, by trying to include “everyone” in various events being scheduled? Countless. And how many times has that ended up backfiring on me, causing more drama and stress and always making me look controlling? Also, countless.

A good friend of mine recently told me that he learned long ago that when scheduling any event, he just settles on a date and sticks to it. Those who can be there, will, and those who can’t be there, won’t, and he doesn’t worry about trying to include “everyone”. On the contrary, I do always worry about including “everyone” in event planning and get concerned about letting someone down if they don’t get included in that planning, which always seems to get me in hot water. That “people-pleasing” action really does come across as controlling, rather than looking like I’m just trying to be a good guy.

So, I think I’m going to start taking a page from my friend’s book and just let events get planned on the day that seem most suitable for those present, rather than me worrying about including every single person not present. Because me trying to arrange everything to include everyone really has consistently come across as controlling, led to more drama and chaos rather than peace and unity, and frankly, has been completely exhausting upon my life.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Inside every man, there’s a little boy crying, ‘I want my mama!’” (Unknown)

Quote #2

“Crying does not mean a person is weak, it means a person has a heart.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“Men hate to cry, they rarely ever do. But, when a man cries over you, you know he loves you. Because men often only cry when they’ve lost something or are afraid of losing something that they love as much as or even more than themselves.” (Unknown)

Bonus Quote

“People cry, not because they’re weak, it’s because they’ve been strong for too long.” (Unknown)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grateful Heart Monday

It’s time for another entry in my Grateful Heart Monday series, a series which continues to focus on only one thing, that being an important piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is for no longer being afraid to cry in front of others.

A long time ago, I was taught that if you were going to be a “real man” in this world, you should never cry in front of others. That grown men should not openly display this type of emotion in the world. My mother was the first to tell me this and she often did her best to help me grow into those big boy pants, to make me tough, and never show any vulnerability like that. I did pretty well with it for many years, even taking Tae Kwon Do and becoming a brown belt to be strong. Later, I learned that alcohol and drugs were also great ways to keep those vulnerable emotions suppressed. On the really heaving drinking and drugging days though, when I went too far with the substances I was consuming, my emotions got the best of me and I’d often end up in a torrent of tears about all the insecurities of my life. I’d always blame the alcohol and drugs of course the next day and toughen right back up, vowing to not allow myself to ever do that again. I did of course time and time again, but only when I was under the influence.

When I finally got sober from alcohol and drugs, and had nothing to suppress those emotions anymore, I went to the next best thing, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, mostly because I started crying all the time and didn’t want anyone to see that. I honestly believed from what I was taught that it made me weak and I wanted to remain strong, So, I tried my best even sober, to never openly shed my tears.

I took that to the extreme, like I have most things in my life, and rarely did I show my tears, even when my father took his life or when my mother took her tragic drunken fall down the stairs. I began to use other addictions to numb myself from those deep emotions and pain and paid the price for that, as I eventually learned that putting a stopper in those feelings and holding all those painful emotions down, only led to me becoming an angry and rage-filled individual, someone who walked around in the world with a major chip on his shoulder.

The only individuals I ever really let see the real side of me for much of my life were those I fell in love with and a few therapists I saw. To the rest of the world though, I hid my true self, someone who deep down was a hurt little boy who always felt sad and alone. When I finally came to terms with that and realized how much damage it was causing my mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical health, I began working on opening those flood gates. To do so meant walking away from a number of other addictions that only suppressed those emotions.

The past eight years or so, I’ve done pretty well with this and have really worked hard to show my vulnerability. I still have my good days with it and some bad days. On the good days, like just tonight for example, when I was hanging out with a good friend of mine, I let the tears fall from my face and it was rather healing and connecting with my friend. On those bad days, when I don’t want to take that wall down around my heart, I tend to yell and cause arguments, trying to create separation with those I love, all because of the fear of getting hurt, something I know all too well throughout much of my life with abandonment and loneliness.

But, the reality is I know it’s ok to cry now and how healthy it is as well, not just alone on my knees on the side of my bed, but everywhere. While I do cry more than not these days about the state of my life with my health, especially in the morning when I awake and am alone with all my pain and all that angst it causes me, I am thankful I can express it more openly now too. I do so with plenty of others in my life, to the groups I speak to, to my close friends and even those who aren’t friends at all. I am authentic now in my life in my emotions more than not, and for that I am so very grateful. Because at the core, showing my tears, allowing my tears, for the world to see, while my mother long ago would have said grown men don’t do that type of thing and that it makes one weak, I see otherwise. Showing my tears actually make me strong, strong in myself for being true to me, and strong in showing to other men that there really is a strength that comes from expressing feelings like that with another.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson