Are you twisting into a people pleasing pretzel?

“There are times in my life when I have been medicine for some while poison for others. I used to think I was a victim of my story until I realized the truth that I am the creator of my story. I choose what type of person I will be and what type of impact I will leave on others. I will never choose the destructive path of self and outward victimization again.”

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

dollhouse with brizo

Are you waiting for approval?  Longing to be liked or seen? Does it feel as if other people are to blame for your problems or lack of success? I used to think that other people’s actions stole my power.  There wasn’t enough love, acceptance, or space to get what I wanted, or to pursue my dreams.

Depressed, angry and sad were familiar friends, we had our own clubhouse.   There appeared to be no-one to champion my cause or to care. Questions would run through my mind and show on other people’s lips like  ‘why can’t I be like so and so?’

Movomg through the molasses to get things done seemed impossible, time kept sliding out of my grasp.  Other people’s feelings, needs, wants, and the guilt of causing pain to loved ones was debilitating.  I lived in a fog with no compass.

Being raised with the good girl malaise, learning to indirectly speak my mind, or at least let everyone know of my discontent by embracing the secretive world of manipulation.  Maybe you know what I mean – saying or doing things that a spouse/ ‘best’ friend/ mother etc didn’t like, getting defensive, and getting zapped, into isolation.  Did you ever find yourself apologizing, back peddling, revisiting scenarios in your mind like a dog with a bone, while mopping up the mess?  Twisting into a people pleasing pretzel, thinking if you just keep the peace, all will be well.  Your survival kit bag, this good girl’s reward.

Lost in a pile of laundry, getting out the stains.  Trying to show up spotless, and perfect without knowing the secret code. And perhaps like me you became a rebel in the dark, fighting ghosts.  Streaming all resources into building a wall no one could pass.  Living the plight of the well behaved woman.

Shamed, and shaming- a cycle with no loophole.

Until that moment, when I understood  I was keeping a vigil in victimhood.  Blame or waiting for a good word would not bring the approval I craved.  I would never change my circumstance if I failed to change me.

To have value you must see your value. I had to get my head out of that dead space to see the beauty in my life. To paint my own canvas,  and rub out all the markings made by others.  Your value is intrinsic.  Every time someone makes you feel bad, pause.  Breathe in deeply, connect to your source and look at what is coming up.  What belief or behavior of yours needs adjusting so this reflection loses its sting?  How do you stop being defined by limits and start believing in your potential? How do you shift from waiting for approval to compassion?   How high is your wall?  I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below

If you are still struggling to release the weight of not being good enough I invite you to sign up for a session with me.

Joie de Vivre


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Are you twisting into a people pleasing pretzel? — 13 Comments

  1. OMG Jen, I totally relate to this post. Not only because my generation dictated that women were supposed to put everyone else first, butI also wore the badge of the eldest daughter, who ‘has to set the example’. It was during my mother’s long goodbye with Alzheimer’s that everything changed for me. I started to speak up with my family. This was the start. Now I have stopped being the ‘kind listening ear’ who are so busy being victims that they never notice what’s going on for anyone else. It was uncomfortable at first, but my God it’s liberating. I’d like to delete ‘nice’ from the English Dictionary. You just can’t always be nice! Thanks Jen- hope lots of women read your article. J x

    • Dear Julie, I always find your comments so enlightening. So glad you found the way out and yes it is liberating. I agree the word nice is so dangerous I would also love to delete it 🙂 Thank you for your lovely compliment. xo

  2. Jen, last post should have read: “Now I have stopped being the ‘kind listening ear’ to those who are so busy being victims ‘ …. shouldn’t edit and not recheck!

  3. Girl, this really spoke to me. “I lived in a fog with no compass.” I kinda have been feeling that way lately. I thought I had clarity, and then I felt foggy-and unless you clear your mind and re-center and allow the flow (and stop the people pleasing!), then it will naturally bring us back to clarity. Great post, love. thank you xoxox

  4. Jen, I think I escaped being a pretzel by emigrating. And as soon as my mom’s older sister died, my mom was expected to selflessly care for all family members. I had to constantly remind her that she’s as important as anyone else and that no one should take her care for granted. Yes, I owe my liberty to emigration and education–you can find quite a lot of very well written feminist literature in the US and I became fascinated with it at some point. The readings really opened my eyes to all sorts of inequalities, and I’m vocal about them now, perhaps under the influence of Lilith. 🙂

  5. Such good advice… I am still working on this. I don’t always speak my mind… I learned to hold back to not anger, annoy people or push their buttons. I am currently working on coming back out a sagittarius that says what they are thinking!! <3 <3

  6. I used to apologize for everything – what I did and what others did! I existed completely to find out what others would approve of. I can’t say I’m finished with this journey but I’ve untwisted myself from that pretzel a good deal! I think you are right that shame is one of the most damaging places we can go. Thanks for encouraging us to be ourselves, with your gentle, kind, and honest voice.

    • Dear Judy, Love how real you always are. I am so happy you have untwisted from the pretzel a good deal. I have full confidence you will be done with the people pleasing plight soon. And thank you for your kind words, much appreciated.

  7. OhMyGosh! I look so forward to your posts, your writing style just sucks me right in and I can FEEL every word you write. The victim mode is so familiar for some and they can’t even see their way out. When I used to live on that block (Victim Street) I didn’t even realize that I was. I just thought life sucked for me and always would. You are right, it will never change until WE recognize it and make the changes from within. Thanks for your great post!

    • Dear Laura, what a compliment, thank you. That means a lot to me. Love that expression on the block – Victim Street. Thank you for your inspired comment. So glad you found your way off that block.

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