A few weeks ago I was going through a bit of a rough patch. I was sad and upset over some recent events that had taken place in my personal life. To make matters worse, I also had finals due that same week so I easily felt overwhelmed and stressed by everything thrown at me at once.
I'm currently taking a group process course, where we basically practice and learn about the group therapy dynamic. Each class begins with an hour of the therapy session or "processing" and then the second half is focused on theory and discussion.
Since I was going through this rough patch, I brought it up to the group. I shared my story and explained my frustrations.
Hours and days after class when I was reflecting upon that sharing I finally asked myself: Who was I sharing this for? Me or them?
Naturally, when it comes to any sort of therapy one would assume that the person is sharing their story for their own healing. They want to experience some sort to relief. This is why many people cry when they are sharing a painful event. It helps them to release all those painful emotions so they can let go and move forward.
Well, the thing is... I didn't cry.
In fact, when I began to cry I stopped cause my throat started closing up, got re-centered, and began talking again. My inner critic came up and said "No, you can't cry here because if you cry then you can't talk! You NEED to be able to talk so that you can explain your story to everyone."
I did the exact thing that so many of us people pleasers do:
In our own moments of suffering, we focus on the well-being of other people rather than ourselves.
How crazy is that?! I am the one that was going through all these sad emotions and what do I do? I shift my focus to other people's feelings and act accordingly to what I sense from them!
It's such a people pleaser thing to do!
So what can us people pleasers do about this, you ask? Well, there are a few things...
1. Be aware.
Awareness is the single most important step and the more you challenge yourself to be aware of it the better. We can mentally understand our own dynamic, but once we start to pay close attention to that dynamic as its unfolding it can light-up our eyes in a way nothing else can.
So next time you are associating with a group of people focus on things like: Am I focusing more on this other person or me? What am I feeling right now?
*Hint: If you don't know what you are feeling in that moment, then you're more than likely focused on the people around you instead.
2. Focus on the "here."
There was an activity that I did a few weeks ago at a relationship workshop where we were asked to sit with a person and focus on "here" (where you yourself are right now), "near" (the other person), and far (the other people, things, and places around you). More than likely, one is going to be much more difficult than the others. If you're a people pleaser, chances are the "here" might be the most difficult.
So next time you are associating with someone, in a group, or simply just around people on the street try to focus on where you are. Also try to notice what situations make it more difficult to focus on the "here" than others.
3. Focus on your body.
Even if you can't quite get the first two, don't fret because this one is the easiest way to help shift your focus back on you and your needs! The trick? Focus on your body.
For many of us, this can be very difficult in the beginning because we tend to live so much in our heads. We sit in front of a computer or spreadsheet all day and most of us rarely ever sit back and ask, "How does my body feel?"
Well, the great thing about focusing on the body is that not only does it tell us how the body feels health-wise but it also helps us to be more aware of our emotions. We can focus more on ourselves rather than other people.
So rather than do a meditation to help calm yourself down, a much more grounded approach could be to simply focus on how you feel in the body. Is there tension? Do you feel jittery? Do you feel open? What emotions do you feel are correlated to these body sensations?
If you are never quite sure what you are feeling emotionally, the body can be a gateway to discover exactly what emotions are lingering around.
Take action now!
Take a moment right now and focus on your body. How do you feel? Is there any tension or pain? What emotions are associated with that?
Then in the next few days, focus on how you feel when other people are around. Take moments to ask yourself: How am I feeling in this moment? What do I need?
Share your own experiences and what you are planning to work on below!
Jennifer is a self and relationship coach and the founder of JenniferTwardowski.com. Her mission is to help women create loving relationships with both others and themselves. Click here for her Free Self and Relationship Healing Meditation and weekly blog updates. To learn about how you can work with her, click here.