I have spent most of my life as a “people pleaser”. My happiness and sense of worth was always measured by my ability to satisfy others. It didn’t matter if I was dealing with a family member, a friend, my spouse or even my supervisor at work. If what I was doing or saying made them happy, then I was happy. I understand that you can’t please all of the people all of the time but if the percentages were high enough, that was awesome and for those that I didn’t make happy this way, I could go back and do something “extra” to win their favor. Most of the time, this was enough for me. If I got to the point where I could no longer please a person, then I would just let them go, knowing that I had done everything that I could.
I knew that in order to be happy, I had to first of all be happy with myself. However, as I assessed myself, I found that all I could focus on were the things about which I was unhappy with and in myself. Barbara Jacoby
This actually worked pretty well for me. People were happy with me so I felt good. But, then came the cancer! Suddenly I became very aware about something that I had forgotten a long ago. I had forgotten that a person’s happiness does not come from satisfying others but it is something that exists inside us. I had rationalized that I was happy because I had the ability to make others happy. Boy, was that a mistake!
I realized that if my happiness was based upon others, I never had to take a really good look at myself. That allowed for me to not address the things that didn’t make me happy. For a very long time, I buried all the bad things within myself and refused to address them. Was that really what cancer was? Was cancer the physical outcome of all of the things that were literally eating away at me inside? It was time to find out and address those issues.
I knew that in order to be happy, I had to first of all be happy with myself. However, as I assessed myself, I found that all I could focus on were the things about which I was unhappy with and in myself. Needless to say, I gave serious consideration about going back to my old ways of just focusing on making others happy but I understood that I would never gain any ground by doing that. So I started to allow myself to accept that there were some things about me that were good and positive. I began to realized that I couldn’t make everyone else happy all of the time. I began to understand that it didn’t make any difference what I chose to do with regard to making others happy because their happiness was up to them. And by using the same logic, I came to realize that I am the only one who can make me happy.
As I started to take a more realistic look at myself, I realized that while I was far from perfect, I always did my best. No matter what I did, I gave it my all. I was always willing to learn more, do more and be more. I knew that I would never do something to intentionally hurt another person. I knew that if I could help someone else, I would be the first in line to give whatever I could. So why would I think that I needed to do things differently or why would I think that I needed to become someone other than exactly who I am? I suddenly realized that the as long as I was true to myself, I would always be happy and successful and the person that I really wanted to be.
No one is perfect. None of us has all of the answers. No one is an expert at everything and some of us are not experts at anything. However, the truth is that it really doesn’t matter. If we can acknowledge that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses, that there is usually more than one way to do something and that we all have our own uniqueness based upon our own life experiences, we can work together to accept one another for exactly who we are. We can allow for each of us to find our own happiness within ourselves in the only way possible and that is by being true to ourselves.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.