Walking a path where you’re not overly influenced by the views & beliefs of others, can be a rocky road, but you know what?…It’s worth it!
One of my ‘things’ — you could call it a strength or a weakness — is that I like to be liked. Since I can remember, it’s always been that way. The problem with that of course is that because you want everyone to like you, you can have a tendency to become a people pleaser.
Pleasing you, pleasing me?
I know that I have definitely been that person. You turn your hand to anything, blend into conversations easily and although you may have strong opinions (as I do!), you know how to manipulate them to fit in with the situation…. Great, right?! Well, as a PR person, yes!…As a way to live your life — not exactly. Putting the pleasure of others before your own needs brings with it some niggles:
1) You get frustrated with having to please others. Whether it’s being the joker all the time because that’s what’s expected of you, going out and getting smashed when you don’t really feel like it, being told to wear certain clothes to work to keep the other ‘suits’ happy…Maybe you start liking a type of music to fit in or a type of sport or football team…I could come up with a million other examples — ultimately what happens is you start to not really know who you are as a person or what it is that really makes you happy.
2) When people don’t warm to you, you take it REALLY personally. “But I put in all that effort — I walked on eggshells around that person and they treat me like this?…” Chances are they didn’t even realise the effort you’d put in or care because they’re just not wired that way.
I was always pretty good balancing point number 1 — especially at work. Maybe it’s the French in me ‘Vive la revolution’ and all that. I never accepted being a people pleaser at work. Of course there are times in our lives where we might feel like we need to morph into ‘the perfect girlfriend/boyfriend’, ‘the best work colleague ever’. Every time I’ve done that it’s been blo*dy unfulfilling!
But oh, point number two, you are the one that pushes my buttons. You are my weakness!
Deep dark places
If you get upset when people don’t like you, when you’ve tried so hard, a whole load of other insecurities come and join the party and it can slap you in the face like Godzilla bursting out of the ocean. You start to ask yourself “why don’t they like me?”, “what more could I have done to please them”. Often a fear of rejection sets in, you start to feel vulnerable and awkward in yourself. Self-doubt rises…
The thing is, it’s often not you at all. You and the other person/people/group are maybe just not compatible. There’s always the chance that the person on the other side has their own stuff going on. Perhaps their buttons get pushed by being around you…. you can’t take that personally, that’s their fears and insecurities playing out.
Stay true to you
So here’s a little story that I thought I’d share that highlights point number two and how you can step out of that thinking…
I was covering a level 2 Yoga Flow class a few weeks ago, at a studio that doesn’t normally have Forrest Yoga on the timetable. I’d planned a flowing class, but sticking absolutely to the Forrest Yoga principles! We got about 20-25 mins into the class. We were doing a pose called chest opener on the wall — right before the flow part of the class — and a guy walked out! First time that’s happened to me. I felt my whole insides churn and in the the space of a couple of seconds, I had an internal conversation with myself: “oh no, he didn’t like my class”, “sh*t what’s the studio going to think?”. In the past, I would have let that negativty, the fear of rejection, linger within me and in a way pander to the class rather than being the teacher with purpose and an intention. I definitely would have also beaten myself up about it afterwards. Instead, here, filled with integrity and absolute desire to teach a great class to the other 15 or so people, I took a really deep breath, planted my active feet onto the wooden floor and took a compassionate moment for myself. I remembered why I teach Forrest Yoga — because I believe in the benefits it brings to people’s lives — and I poured my 100% attention into my students — NOT the dude that left. It took every fibre of my body to stick with the plan, but I’m so glad I did.
At the end of the class, I had a number of people thanking me for this very different but powerful practice to what they were used to. I was trouble shooting injuries, working through bad habits and the feedback to the studio was positive.
Believe in what you do
Sticking wholeheartedly to what I believed in that day paid off. Turns out the guy that left was looking for a more flowing class…. we did flow, but he had his own needs and expectations, which I cannot and should not hope to control. As a teacher, I have to focus on the people who are willing to receive, even if it’s just a little bit, of what I’m offering. The other 15 people left my class feeling strong and open-hearted, so my job was done…I think it’s the same in life. Focus on the people that can receive your love and friendship in the way that it’s intended. Putting your energy into people that don’t care, aren’t willing to receive and reciprocate your love is tiring and feeds those fears of rejection. That’s not to say you’ll never be friends or you’ll never share the same views — things can change, beliefs change.
It’s really hard sometimes to stick to what you believe in — whether that’s in yoga, in the office, in front of the CEO, but when you gracefully stay true to yourself (and I don’t mean be a complete blo*dy minded ars*hole!), it feels good — in your body and in your mind.
As my team and I used to say in the corporate world, “you can’t please everyone” and really — you can’t! A watered down version of you, your skills, your talents and your beliefs to accommodate others is like dishwater…. used-up and dull. If you radiate what is the true you, jobs, people and opportunities gravitate towards you, just as the people who stayed in my class did. They soaked up what I had to offer and came back for more.