Real Stories

An Ever-Changing Perception of Self

It started with a noticed problem: I was always doing things for other people, and then felt resentful when my unspoken needs weren’t met in return.

First, I thought I had some kind of American Hero-Duty-Complex.

Then I realized, I think I’m just a people pleaser.

I thought, wait, I think this “people-pleasing” is actually just self-serving to get things in return like affection and loyalty.

*Here’s a wonderful three month interlude of thinking that everything I have ever done for anyone else was for selfish reasons*

Then I said, actually, I think I learned that I had to people-please during my abusive relationship when I was younger.

*Break for another couple weeks of looking for a good therapist in my area who takes my insurance*

*Insert EMDR therapy here*

Finally, I arrived at a conclusion: While my brain was still developing, traumatic experiences taught me to be extremely frightened of displeasing men. This led me to be very good at anticipating needs, and meeting them without ever being explicitly asked. This behavior is fear-based, and subconsciously dictates my current behaviors within relationships.

This has led me to say “yes” in many situations where my body screamed at me to say “no.” And of course, all of the shame and guilt that comes from betraying your own needs in favor of another’s.

However, I do not regret my actions. I have always done the best I was able to at the time.

I used to anticipate and meet the needs of men out of subconscious fear, but sometimes I would anticipate and meet the needs of my loved ones because making people happy is something I genuinely love to do; there is no one generalization for my past actions.

Doesn’t this revelation fit nicely on a page? However, understanding why I do things and how I was harming my own personal growth took being more honest about my wants and needs, leaving my dream job less than a quarter of the way through my contract, and taking a few months to live at home while attending therapy. It is probably the best decision I’ve ever made for my future.

To anyone thinking that understanding your behaviors is just too hard to get into–I mean you’re really busy, honestly work is crazy right now, it takes so long to find a good therapist anyway, and ugh, you’re just tired all the time–do it anyway.

Pretty much the only assigned job you have in this life is to understand yourself, and continuously improve your behaviors and actions. So even though it’s exhausting and difficult, do it anyway.

by Charlotte King

I like to read and write and better myself and make the lives of my loved ones easier and happier. My career passion is marine and wildlife conservation. I’ve been a zookeeper, teacher, water quality tester, nanny, peace corps volunteer, yoga studio worker, bartender...basically, a bunch of stuff except a writer.


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