Friday, February 17, 2012

I learned a lesson over the last two days.  A big one.

I'm a people pleaser and have been for as long as I can remember.  I would rather everyone else be happy, that me.  I would rather listen to everyone else's ideas and go with one of them, than share my dissenting opinion.

This has caused some feelings that have started to fester lately.  Like a small paper cut on your finger.  One so small you can't see it.  And then meetings, discussions, conversations, get togethers each one is like putting a little salt on that cut.  A little antibacterial gel that stings.  And then it hurts more than it did before.  You're aware of it now.  But, because I don't like conflict I put a bandaid on it and try to move on. I keep typing, keep writing, keep working.

But that cut is still there.

And it still hurts a little.

This past week something came up that caused a lot of salt to be rubbed into that cut.  And I had an enlightening conversation with my mom last night.

In talking about this situation I was saying how in this one instance I really can't stay quiet.  I really needed to say something.  And perhaps cause a little conflict.  I was thinking out loud.  Really, for part of that conversation, my mother wasn't even needed.  But because I didn't want to stir the pot, I wasn't sure that my feelings and gut reaction was correct and appropriate to the situation.  And I needed a sounding board.

At the end of my spilling the situation, and sharing what I thought my reaction should be, my mom replied with something along the lines of, "You can do that Heather.  You should stand up for yourself."

'But I'm a people pleaser.  It's hard for me.'

"I know it is.  So be careful.  Because sometimes when you do decide to stand up for yourself and share your feelings you can get a little like your brother (who has autism).  You go and go and go.  Because you've finally shared what you want to you have trouble stopping and hearing the other person respond.  You get afraid that if you stop and hear their response you will cave.  You won't be able to stand up for yourself anymore.  And you can get a little defensive sounding in those situations."

I couldn't believe how accurately she had described it.  And I was shocked she understood.  And could verbalize it.  Because I couldn't.  And I hadn't thought about it until that exact moment.

I'm still digesting.  Still processing what that means.  But I know that I need to start advocating for myself.  Even if people don't agree.  If I feel like I'm not being heard, I need to say it again.  Say it louder.  Because even if people don't agree with me, they've heard me.

Perhaps it's my people-pleasing nature, or a deeply hidden need to be needed, or valued, or appreciated. (Really, everyone needs to be appreciated.  So tell someone you appreciate them at some point today.  That's your homework from this middle school teacher.)   Who knows?

But what I do know, is that when you have that gut reaction.  That light inside your head that says this is wrong.  Or you can't do this.  Or this is what you need to do.

You need to listen.

You need to listen.

And I need to start believing.  Start believing in me.

Yes, this small thing caused deep thinking.  And taught me a lesson.  One that I may not be ready to fully learn yet.  But, it's in the planner.

Remember life is short.  So think about your dreams a little harder.  
Reach a little higher.  Laugh a little louder.  Love a little stronger.  
Because many things in life can wait... The Sunset Won't!

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