Hi there. You’re listening to the stories From A Quest to Live Happier podcast. I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor. In this podcast, I share my stories and lessons I’ve learned, and I keep learning on my quest to live happier.
This is Episode 39, To Be Me and Not What’s Convenient for Others. Today’s title for the show is a little different than normal and a little questionable. To be me and not what’s convenient for others is the theme for why a lot of clients come to see me.
They’re tired of not being themselves, of trying to squeeze themselves into a round hole when they’re really a square peg. They’ve spent all their lives doing that. They have this little bit of an “Ah-ha” of I really want to be myself. I’m tired of pretending. I’m tired of not showing up in the life the way I really want to.”
What happens, that I think keeps some of us really stuck in that place and prevents us from really moving forward into the area of intentionally living and being authentic and true to ourselves, is that we carry the blame that it’s everyone else’s fault for why we aren’t ourselves.
When you look at the phrase, “To be me, and not what’s convenient for others,” there’s this underlying tone of blame that other people are the ones that have kept us down, so to speak. When in reality, we are the ones that have made the choice every day to keep shaving down our square pegs so they’ll fit into that round hole. We are the ones that go out into the world and decide, “I’m going to continue to use my perfectionism and my people-pleasing as a shield from really showing up in life.”
The only way we’re really going to start changing ourselves and allowing ourselves to be me is when we stop blaming other people for keeping us down; when we stop blaming them for they’re the reason why we’ve shaved off the corners. They’re the reasons why I’ve spent so much time stuck in this people-pleasing cycle. In reality, we have chosen to do that.
I can hear the push back. We have chosen to do that, based on the feedback we’ve gotten. We might have gotten more approval, and more love because we were people-pleasing, or because we did have such a strong perfectionist way of living in the world.
Absolutely. When we’re living our lives for other people, we are going to get more approval and more love. That’s how it works. When we have lived our lives completely for other people, then when we start changing that there is going to be push back. That’s human nature. That’s the way it goes.
If we continue to live our lives looking at the other person and pointing outward, saying, “They are why we are down. It’s his fault or her fault. It’s my mom’s fault for teaching me this, or it’s my brother’s fault for always making fun of me, or it’s my husband’s fault for never really showing up.” Then we’re continuing to do the same thing.
Instead of people-pleasing and perfectionism to get approval, now we’re blaming and angry. We’re still not showing up authentically. We’re not showing up authentically by people-pleasing and perfectionism. We’re not showing up authentically when we’re living in blame, and resentment, and judgment.
The only way we can really show up and be intentional in our lives is when we start owning our stuff. I know when I engage in people-pleasing with my husband, most of the time, he doesn’t want all the stuff that I’m sucking up to him around. He doesn’t really care, but I am feeling insecure. I am feeling out of whack, and that’s my go to, is to people-please.
That is also my responsibility to check that. It’s my responsibility to notice when I am projecting on to him everything my inner critic is saying to me, which I do a lot. If my inner critic is telling me that I’m put on weight, or that I look bad, I will frequently assume my husband feels the same way. 9 times out of 10 he doesn’t. He’s just like, “You look great. You’re my wife. I love you.” He’s not paying attention to that sort of thing.
We project onto other people. We assume that they are keeping us down when in reality they maybe our biggest fans. We are letting our inner critics put the lens over the camera that skews our whole way of thinking about things. I really want you to be thinking of this as you go through life, and you’re going through your day-to-day stuff, and you’re looking at, “I really want to show up more intentionally, and I really want to take responsibility for what’s happening in my life.”
That responsibility can be yucky sometimes. Then we have to wake up and say, “Wait. This isn’t everybody else’s fault. I created this dynamic too. I have made my husband super dependent on me.” Or, “I have created an unhealthy dynamic with my mom where she thinks she can call me at all hours of the night with whatever it is she needs. I have helped create that, not solely.” I’m not flipping the blame totally on to you.
I’m also asking if we’re going to live intentionally, we got to be willing to say, “Hey, some of this might be my fault. Even though I resent that this is the dynamic, what have I gotten out of this dynamic?” 1 of my favorite questions by Dr. Phil, who I’m not necessarily a huge fan of, but the question is how is it serving you?
Every action we are doing is serving us in some way. When we say, “I want to be me and not what’s convenient for others, the question to turn around and ask is how is it serving you not to be you?” Man, it’s serving you in a ton of ways. It’s serving you by being safe, and protected, and you’re not vulnerable, and you’re loved, and approved of. People think you’re amazing.
Then there’s the price you pay for that, which is a pretty heavy price, which is you don’t really get the chance to really show your round peg. You don’t get the chance to show your round peg. You’re spending so much time shaving off those corners you miss out on a big part of life; letting go of some of that blame and that resentment, and really allowing yourself to show up fully and take responsibility for what it is that’s happening in your life.
The quote of, “To be me and not what’s convenient for others” is a wonderful quote. I picked it intentionally. I think it really encompasses why a lot of people come to see me. I also think to be me and not what’s convenient for others really means you have to be willing to embrace the mess and to embrace that messiness of life, that messy middle part where you’ve created a dynamic with someone else that is forcing you not to fully show up.
How do you look at that instead of always pointing the finger at them, but also looking at yourself and how you’ve contributed to it. That’s my ramble on that quote. I hope it gives you some pause. I think the idea of blaming, resentment, that anger piece, a lot of that comes in. We’re so mad at other people for keeping us down. In some ways, we’re mad at ourselves for keeping us down.
We have to have a piece of forgiveness around there. That is where self-compassion is just so important; is to recognize we’re getting hammered by our inner critics all the time. Sometimes we turn that inner critic external on our partners and our family members and our friends. That’s where we can get into trouble. When we can start turning that self-compassion around and saying, “I just want to be me and show up.” It’s so hard to do that without being frustrated at other people.
When we start changing dynamics, people start getting wiggy. They start getting freaked out. We need to be able to stand strong in our stuff even though the people around us are getting wiggy and not revert to our default patterns of starting to shave back our square peg.
We have to stand there proudly with our round peg saying, “You can have that reaction. It’s going to suck while I stand here while you have that reaction, but I don’t need to change who I am to make that okay for you.” That’s a very different energy than, “I’m going to be mad at you for not accepting my round peg.”
I’d love to hear from you. If you want to email me, email@example.com. Give me your feedback, pushback if you have any, on how that resonates with you
One thing that has really helped me Live Happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life so each week I am going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenge you to complete it
Pay attention to when you start feeling resentment
This one goes along with the theme of really showing up. I want you to be paying attention throughout the week. This is a little more advanced ritual than I normally have. I want you to be paying attention to when you start feeling resentment. That resentment is toxic. When you start feeling resentment, just notice that in your life.
You don’t have to do anything around it. You don’t have to yell, or scream, or get it out. Just start noticing how often resentment, and blame, and frustration show up in your life and how often, when you have resentment or frustration you resort to blame. Just start noticing that. I’ll start unhooking a little bit.
If you can, for extra credit points, add in a little self-compassion. Add in a little, “Sweetheart, this is so hard. I just really want to blame so and so for this, but we all have a part in this. We’ve all created this dynamic.” Making some wiggle room around that resentment and frustration, and not immediately resorting right to blame.
That’s the show. Thanks for listening. The Stories From a Quest to Live Happier podcast comes out every week. Questions? Please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, here’s to living happier.
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