I Vow To Stop People Pleasing!

I have a confession. I’m full of shit.

Which really bothers me. In fact, it bothers me so much that I haven’t published a single blog post in nine months.

And it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I do. I just haven’t wanted to pretend. Pretending is boring. Suffocating.

You see, over at Butterfly Maiden, I get to share with you my spiritual, self-awareness-driven Self. I speak about topics that are close to my heart, compelled by an innate urge to be of assistance to those who are traveling the path of personal transformation. I know from experience that it can be a lonely journey, and I believe it’s comforting to have encouragement, support, guidance and help along the way.

Previously, I’ve bought into the belief that I must present myself a certain way in order to appeal to the masses. To that end, I have taken my online persona very seriously, believing that I must present myself as a wise, wholesome, beacon of light at all times.

And though this is a version of me that exists, I’m not radiating Goddess awesome all the time. It’s true. Sometimes, I’m just a girl in a t-shirt who eats meat, watches sports, listens to rock n roll, and enjoys irreverence and profanity.

stop people pleasing

So, what’s the problem?

I have admittedly pre-judged your ability to see and accept an integrated version of me. I’ve worried that my ridiculosity will cause you to second-guess my ability to help you so I only let you see the carefully composed been-meditating-for-hours-and-everything-truly-is-butterflies-and-rainbows version.

But, here’s the thing. My well behaved online persona is a mask with specific definitions of what I can or can’t say. And, as boring as it feels to me at times, it serves a purpose:

To help the highest number of people like me.

Yep, it’s a people pleasing mechanism.

And I know it.

And I loathe it.

You don’t know how often I want to share something that absolutely delights me — whether it’s off-the-cuff humor or awe-striking inspiration — but I don’t… because it may contain profanity or mildly controversial topics.

I protect my “image” by not sharing what I sincerely find appealing and/or enlightening. I protect my reputation by censoring my writing — daring to barely push buttons with choice of words and topics.

All the while thinking, “I wish I could say _____________” or more accurately, “I’m so pissed I can’t really say ____________”.

Angel vs. Devil?

These two dramatically different versions of moi are both important to me.

In person, I’m much more likely to show you an integrated version. We’ll talk about serious things like the importance of being self-centered in between giggle fits brought on by innuendo. (I can seriously turn the most benign comment into a dirty joke!) But, online, while preaching authenticity, I expend much effort in protecting my rowdy, ridiculous and rambunctious self.

I do this because I’m afraid. (Remember emotions don’t have to make sense, so just follow me here.) I’m afraid of:

– judgment.
– alienation.
– getting unfriended on Facebook.

(I’m being honest here, so wipe that smirk off your face.)

Here’s a recent example:

I read an article that had a profound effect on me: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Not only was it incredibly inspirational, but it also was full of profanity and in-your-face “I don’t care if you like this or not”. I felt jealous of the author, Mark Manson, who freely expresses himself. I laughed so hard that tears were streaming down my face and as per usual, I felt compelled to share with everyone else because they deserve to have this fabulous experience, too!

But, the thought of sharing with the world left me paralyzed… frozen in fear at the thought of other people’s opinion of me.

You bet I shared the fantastic article with my close friends — those who I’m confident know me and accept me just the way I am. Somehow these people see past the dichotomy of my two selves and love the integrated parts of me that are just as capable of dropping an “F” bomb in the midst of a meditation as offering healing to a complete stranger suffering from PTSD whom I’ve just met at a dive bar.

I couldn’t share it on my social media channels for fear of the judgment of people who:

  • more than likely won’t read my stuff in the first place
  • already don’t know me or understand me, and don’t even care to
  • would express their disapproval by withdrawing their love, affection, friendship

The thought of sharing caused me to panic.

Because “people” would see it and view it as a reflection of me.

What’s wrong with this picture? It IS a reflection of me.

Hypocrisy ring a bell?

How can I preach taking off the masks, how awesome authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability are when I’m hiding behind an intended-to-please-the-greatest-number-of-people persona?

It’s downright hypocritical.

I claim to be a former People Pleaser.
That’s not true. I’m a RECOVERING People Pleaser who still relapses into old patterns.


Two weeks ago, I was yammering on about something and I said, “if you want to be seen completely, you have to show up completely.” I heard those words come out of my mouth and just started shaking my head slowly.

One of my greatest desires is to be seen in my totality. I want people to see the real me. And I long to give that in return.

It’s time for me to start showing up as who I really am — even when I’m just a shit-talking girl in a t-shirt.

I know that as I reveal more of what lurks behind my online persona mask, it could cost me… the approval of those who already judge me for thinking and behaving differently than they expect. Interestingly enough, it’s these same people who made it so difficult for me to leave the faith of my family, to leave a marriage, to break free from the roles they had assigned me and expected me to play…


Oh yeah, because my default mode is still people pleasing. I want to be liked.

And learning how to implement the art of non-fuck-giving may be a life long journey.

I’m finally finished debating the ramifications of the decision to be MORE real online. What I’ve discovered is that overwhelmingly, the people who love my integrated self already will love me even more for not holding back. And the people who don’t love integrated me, well, they will have a justifiable reason (at least in their minds) for disconnecting.

If that offends you, go ahead. Unfriend me. Unsubscribe from my blog, from my mailing list. Unfollow me.

Help me make room for those who will celebrate my personal authenticity… who will laugh with me, while pondering the great mysteries of the universe… who will dedicate time to meditating, and later that evening might accidentally drink too much wine and make fools of themselves playing air guitar while lip syncing their favorite Journey song.

I don’t want to alienate. I also don’t want to offend. But, more than that, I don’t want to continually censor myself to appeal to the greatest number of people anymore.

I want to be seen completely, therefore, I must show up completely.

I’m far from perfect, people. I’m still befriending the meanie in the back of my head who talks shit to me all the time. But, quirks and ridiculosity aside, I am pretty damn good at what I do — which is creating a safe place for YOU to explore who you are, who you want to be… and then helping you get there.

If you are paralyzed by other people’s expectations and opinions, know that I understand what you’re going through. I am still living here… steadily fighting my way through it, taking back one fuck at a time.

It’s possible. It feels good.

Except for the scary parts.

They suck.

Originally published at www.butterfly-maiden.com on January 12, 2015. And then published again at Medium.com on September 20, 2016. And then I decided to use it here on my own blog today. Because it’s relevant here for what I’m about to unleash.

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  1. Pingback: Learning to Value Me | Janet Louise Stephenson

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