Dear fellow empaths, “people pleasers”, “push overs”…
Sharing 5 positive changes after cutting out a friend that took advantage of these traits.
Gosh, do I hate the terms “people pleaser” and “push over”. Not sure if I hate(d) it so much because of the high degree of truth behind it or my unwavering denial for being one.
But hey you, thank you for clicking on this article. Have you ever been annoyed for being called a people pleaser too? Or do you simply have lots of compassion, a big heart and an easily triggered soft spot for other humans?
Well if so, I feel you. I really do. I never realized (or perhaps, I was unwilling to admit) that I was in fact a doormat during my high school and university years. Funny thing is that this realization hit me hard when a “very close friend” of mine was sitting in my car (while, yet again, on another drive to drop her back home). I had always felt bad for her, for the challenges she expressed from the past and for the ongoing challenges that she stated to continue happening in her life — some of which I realized, after the fact, may have been false or tremendously exaggerated…I can probably write a whole separate article on naivety and giving people too much benefit of the doubt (will save that for another time). Anyhoo, there were aspects of her that seemed so sweet, kind and friendly that drew me to stick around and justify the questionable aspects of her behavior.
So, here I am driving this friend I have known for 6 or 7 years. We were almost home and chatting during the ride as always. Somehow, the conversation got to a point where she casually blurted out, for the first time ever, that I was a pushover. My mind froze a little — doing a double take of what I just heard—I was caught off guard and shocked. I instantly felt the truth behind her words sink in…this was how my friend viewed me as a person.
As it slowly began to hit me, one memory tumbling down after another…not only the times I drove her back and forth to places, going just a tad bit out of my way to drive her, naturally gaining my place as one of her key chauffeurs…but also all the kindness, trust and loyalty that I gave her…the endless validation she demanded and I provided…all the times I questioned the truth in her words yet still bought them in the end…the times her toxicity was passively aggressively thrown at me… It all made sense.
She saw that I was a pushover and increasingly took advantage of that.
I welcomed her to walk over me simply because I saw her as a friend. I made her harmful words excusable the whole time because she disguised questionable statements and comments with a sweet voice and innocent smile. The surface level niceness sucked me in. Over time, I became conditioned to tip toe on egg shells as she used her mental health as a defense at the drop of a hat.
From that moment on, I began to withdraw bit by bit into my shell to protect myself, drifting far away from this friend as I possibly could in order to start repairing my soul. I re-thought about my relationships and those around me from then on. Feeling hurt, vulnerable and used, I set new standards and expectations for friendships (and any relationship really).
Currently, we no longer spend time together or go out of our way to chat but we continue to remain as healthy acquaintances at larger group gatherings. It has probably been around 5 years since we were truly “friends”.
In celebration of this, let me share with you the 5 POSITIVE THINGS that have happened from this decision:
1. Feelings of Liberation
After spending days on end questioning myself on my decision and drowning in a pool of guilt for leaving my “friend”, these thoughts and feelings subsided and I began to feel a sense of liberation. There were no more egg shells for me to walk around. No more conversations where I needed to carefully dance my way through. Zap — the negativity was gone.
2. Greater Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
Sometimes I wonder how I even put up with it throughout the years. The truth was I had low self-esteem and low self-confidence myself throughout my friendship with her too. We mostly bonded over insecurities that we had about ourselves, like an endless cycle feeding on each other. By drawing boundaries and leaving the friendship behind, I increased my self -value and -respect. I began embracing the happy events in my life and strutting it without worrying that sharing these happy things could bother someone who was easily butthurt by any of my successes, fortunes or assets.
3. Better Quality Relationships
By drawing boundaries and expectations, I set a new standard for myself and my relationships with people. Though I did take time to reflect on and understand why I had been that way (e.g. the environment I was in growing up, the parenting style I received, innate traits, mental health, etc), I learned to no longer be a “push over” or “people pleaser”. I learned to recognize signs of an unhealthy relationship and focus my time and energy on the healthy ones…the ones with people that are genuinely happy for me and care about my well-being.
4. A Better Me
Less time spent on meeting another person’s needs (both emotional and physical world demands), means more time and energy for myself. I no longer had to give a damn about what someone else thought of me, my life and my growth. With no one figuratively holding me back, I felt like I was in full control of being the person I wanted to be and working towards becoming my best self.
5. A Happier Life
This is kind of self explanatory by this point but cutting out negativity led me to have more room for positivity. No more dealing with jealousy, envy or passive aggressiveness — I was officially negative vibes free.
That is all. Hope my story is relatable to some of you out there.
Thank you for reading!
Best wishes in your own journey of self-improvement and self-love :)
From The Unconventional Social Worker