(MG) I spent much of my life thinking that my job was to make "everybody" happy. Cute, white, polite suburban kids (even those from the poor side of town - which ain't all that poor to begin with -- but, relatively speaking) who smile, look pretty, don't "rock the boat", have a modicum of talent, and perhaps some wit (but God forbid, not TOO much wit), get enough positive feed back -- pats on the head, various and sundry accolades, to make the effort without asking any tought questions.
As long as one's world is sheltered, limited to say, cute, white, polite and suburban, this survival stratagem "works." It feeds you what you want -- if not what you need. But when one does not aspire to the outward trappings of success in that limiting [cute, white, polite and suburban] world (faster car, better job, bigger house), and when one begins to encounter other worlds one's eyes sometimes open wider and a universe of previously unnoticed options and choices comes into view.
At such junctures, the choices of pleasing "everyone" (which can't really be done), or live an authentic life with some degree of integrity emerge. Who is your client going to be? Who matters most to you?
I encountered this resonating article from BeliefNet recently.
Today would have been a good day for me to wear the t-shirt that says, "I can only please one person a day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either."
As I progress in my recovery, I am a choosier shopper when it comes to friendships--I can now recognize when I’m being treated unfairly, or without respect, and I don’t feel as much need to stick around just to prevent causing waves. Nor can I afford to share myself with everyone who comes along. That’s too dangerous and wearing--with pieces of your soul left out to dry on too many doormats--not to mention impossible (like the saying goes: you can please everyone some of the time, and some people all the time, but not everyone all of the time). I need to surround myself with people who are working just as hard as I am at staying well and positive, resisting the plethora of opportunities to turn to the Dark Side and talk trash and gloom.
I feel much like Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who wrote in "Gift From the Sea," "I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere."
Like Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, it’s about being sincere--which means hanging out with people who respect me in the same way that I respect them, and sharing meals with girlfriends and couples who motivate you to be better people.
But if I keep on practicing my boundary-building skills, one day I will find that ... I am staying buoyant with little effort of my own. The boundaries will assist me in conserving energy for the things I love ...
One day I will intuitively know how to say no, and not feel guilty.
Garden Party Song Lyrics - by Ricky Nelson
I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn't look the same
But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
People came from miles around, everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air
'n' over in the corner, much to my surprise
Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan's shoes wearing his disguise
Played them all the old songs, thought that's why they came
No one heard the music, we didn't look the same
I said hello to "Mary Lou", she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave
Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode
Playing guitar like a-ringin' a bell and lookin' like he should
If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck
'n' it's all right now, learned my lesson well
You see, ya can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself