Does stress make you feel lonely? It’s a strange fiction when you fight so hard in your daily battles, but end up feeling like a weakling.
Does this sound like you?
You aren’t a traditional sidewalk passerby nor are you a street dweller. You pave new trails. You lace up your worn-out boots with your dirty soles and you get things done. You do what you have to do to survive because you are brave and courageous and all that badass stuff. But you struggle to embrace new friendships, new challenges, and new opportunities. What’s the deal?
Here are 6 Surprising Reasons Why You Hold Back
1. You have fear
Even though you are brave and strong and not afraid to get your hands dirty, you get scared sometimes. Yep. Sometimes you are an anxiety-battling Sheena (I just dated myself there) and hiding under all that toughness is a layer of fear.
I battle this too.
How do you know if you are operating out of fear?
Fear looks like a person who is trying to control everything.
You spend a lot of time trying to keep the balls in the air, make sure everything is perfect, but you still feel scared of what might happen. You fear that if you drop one of those balls, everything will fall apart.
Which leads me to my second point…
2. You Fear Failure
Why is it so hard to be real?
If you are like me, you might see your own performance as a way to boost your ego. If you aren’t performing, you are failing. If you are failing, you are worthless. You are highly-competitive, impatient, and even aggressive at times. You have a sense of urgency–if you don’t get it done, who will? And you don’t enjoy your accomplishments even when you do achieve them.
If you are human (and I think you are), then you’ve been through rejection or felt the sting of failure or watched as someone became disappointed in you. Now your brain is trying to protect you from having that same outcome again.
You have to work at convincing your brain that it’s ok to fail or struggle. It’s ok to let people down. It’s even ok if you get rejected.
I have to be honest here. When you are trying to make everyone see you as perfect and likable, you are living a dishonest life. In fact, you are manipulative.
Did that sting a little bit to hear? Me too.
Why do you do this?
3. You want to Control Everything
Ok, so what? How does this hurt other people?
Let’s talk a minute about what we do when we manipulate another person to like us and accept us.
When you manipulate another person, you want them to like you, to think the best of you, to not see you in a negative light. That’s why you don’t let down your guard or let them see the “real” you. What you do let them see is a version of yourself that you’ve put forward that allows you to be seen as the brave, selfless hard worker who never gets a break. You have become a “yes” person with a savior complex.
So you often are saying YES and never letting that person see the real you….the woman with a lot of other things going on…the imperfect wife and mother….the stressed out and sometimes resentful person…your humanity… You put on a face and pretend that you are great. And you prevent the other person from experiencing conflict, having to work through their own problems, or allowing them to grow because you are always saying YES and taking on their workload.
It seems like you are being nice and maybe your heart is that you do genuinely want to help, but by helping ALL THE TIME, you stress yourself out and you prevent them from learning about themselves.
If all of this is done so that others will like us, ask yourself, “shouldn’t that be up to the other person if they like me or not?” The truth is we take away the other person’s freedom when we present them with a lie, even if we are doing it out of fear.
4. We don’t want to see ourselves as a precious gift
To be real with ourselves is a gift. To learn to be self-aware, how to advocate for ourselves, and set boundaries even if it means we disappoint some people means we are living a life of truth. And if we fail, that means we tried. And if we live this dishonest kind of life, we don’t allow for any kind of genuine friendship or relationship. Because believe it or not, there are people out there who are more than OK with your failures and out-of-the-norm personality. When you are being manipulative, you shut the door on the good things too.
- honest conversations
- having conflicts that lead to a deeper relationship
- letting down your guard and being supported
- letting others feel safe expressing their feelings to you
- growing in empathy towards others
- supporting another person and helping them grow
- learning to advocate for yourself
- accepting who you are and growing in confidence in that truth
So what does all this mean?
It means that instead of trying to control and manipulate our relationships and how people see us, we’d do well to remember that this is just a defense mechanism from our past. We might get people to like us, but it’s not a real relationship. People are getting a false version of who you are. That’s not fair to you or to them. Friendships can happen even if we aren’t perfect. In fact, I’d say friends that know the real you and still love you, wanting to be around you, are a treasure. The friends you manipulated into liking you are paper thin. The moment a storm comes, they’ll probably flee.
If people only love you when you are at your best, then is it really a true friendship? Is it really worth keeping?
In order to be real, you need to first know the REAL you. Try this:
Grab a sheet of paper and create two columns. On one side write “I am”. On the other side write “I am a”.
In the first column, you might write all the character traits that define you. “I am honest; I am caring; I am empathetic;” For the other column, you might write “I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a musician. I am a dog lover.” Fill in the list and see what feelings arise from this. Are you showing others who you really are?
5. We Struggle To Be Assertive
I’d like you to watch this video I created that explains how to be honest and not wait until you are about to explode. Learning to be assertive and honest is an important lesson if we want to embrace new opportunites a
6. Treat Fear Like It’s Boring
I love what author, Elizabeth Gilbert says about fear:
This is my fundamental opposition to the mythological dream of fearlessness, and the frustration I feel whenever fearlessness is held up as a virtue. I just feel like that it’s the wrong battle. Because for one thing, you don’t want to get rid of your fear; you need it to keep you alive. We’re all here because we had fear that preserved us. So there’s a little bit of a lack of appreciation for fear when we say that we want to be fearless. But then, fear is the oldest, deepest and least subtle part of our emotional life, and so therefore it’s boring. It’s dull. It doesn’t have any nuance…But don’t try to go to war against it, that’s such a waste of energy. Just converse with it and then move on. (Source: Ideas TED)
We make fear into this giant thing, but really it’s a normal part of our emotions. That’s why our fear of failure and our wanting to control needs a pep talk sometimes. Keep this definition in mind for when you start thinking failure is bad…
- F – First
- A – Attempt
- I – In
- L – Learning
To fail is to be successful at efforts in learning. Why not fail at people-pleasing?
Let’s move closer to being a truly healthy person. Let’s not manipulate or control others, but allow ourselves the opportunity to show others the real person that we are…even if that means the relationships we have falls apart.
It might also mean we have to feel the hard things. That’s ok. It helps us to become a step closer to self-awareness and self-kindness when we accept the person that we are.
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