When I was a kid, I had to ask permission to leave the dinner table. My parents were loving human beings who were also old school. It worked for them, and it worked for me too. I was also of a generation where your behavior was considered a direct reflection of your parents’ reputation. The pressure was constantly on, to behave properly, do the right thing, and to please my parents.
I remember my mom would often remind me that I represented her and my dad, and if I behaved badly, it would cause the parents of other children to think poorly of them.
For the sake of this blog, we are not going to discuss the merits, or lack thereof of that style of parenting. We are going talk about the impact that kind of pressure can have on us as we become adults.
I recently had Daniel as a guest on my new podcast Rant & Grow. The entertaining and heart-centered show is a life coaching session. Guests rant about situations and people that upset them, and then we dig into the personal root cause of the rant which helps the guests become more self-aware so they can break free and grow.
Daniel is a fairly successful 59-year-old man, born and raised in Los Angeles. He didn’t come from much, financially speaking; therefore, success was defined in terms of making money. His parents worked hard, and much like my own, they did whatever it took to take care of their families. Often doing work they didn’t necessarily like.
Self-sacrifice was the motto for them and their parents too. That motto has been around a very long time for many generations.
The problem with self-sacrifice is that eventually you end up not valuing yourself enough, and you could sell out your own terms as a human being.
In the case of Daniel, he spent years blaming his business partners for a decision “they” made without him. The decision had negative impact on the company the three of them built from scratch. Without realizing it, that moment took the air out of Daniel’s tires. He lost his zest for the travel the job required, and he wallowed like a victim for years.
After digging in a bit, it became clear to Daniel that his pointing fingers was actually a distraction from taking responsibility for the fact that he had actually participated in the decision. He participated by saying nothing, by not taking a stand. By not speaking his truth he was complicit with the decision, but conveniently decided on a narrative in his own mind, that the decision had been made without him.
“I sold out my integrity by not speaking up” Daniel acknowledged.
What was the root cause of him not speaking up when he really needed to? Going back to the self-sacrifice mindset, he didn’t value himself high enough to put his foot down. He learned from his parents to work hard, and keep his mouth shut.
The consequences were detrimental to the business, and to Daniel. The business lost clients and lots of money. Daniel lost his mojo.
The gift of self-reflection is in your ability to take full responsibility for where you are in your life. Daniel did that as we ended our Life Coaching session.
There are two main themes that emerged in the session with Daniel.
First: Self-sacrifice doesn’t serve anyone, and in the end, you end up being a martyr. Everything we do has to be of value to all parties involved. As discussed in a previous blog, being selfish serves everyone best.
Second: Blaming others and playing the victim card is a sure way to avoid accountability, and to suffer for no reason.
Speaking your truth, standing up for your beliefs is not only healthy for your own state of being, but in the case of Daniel it would have helped his company avoid major losses, and would have not robbed him of his zest for the work he loves.
By the end of the podcast Daniel was excited to forgive himself, and his partners — to stop blaming, and renew his zest for his work.
Forgiveness is about taking responsibility for our feelings, our reaction to how others may have wronged us; forgiveness is removing the blame for our own feelings from others. It is no longer blaming another person for our own reactions; it is about taking responsibility for ourselves and our reactions, it is about recognizing in ourselves the opportunities for improvements.
When you look into a mirror and you see a scar, do you blame the mirror? Do you say, I hate you mirror for causing the scar? All the mirror has done is given you a chance to see what is part of you, the mirror is just the messenger.
Often people who seem to wrong us, push our buttons, challenge us, they are messengers trying to help us recognize where we need to transform our own state of being.
Daniel also realized that he doesn’t need to impress or please his parents anymore. He can be his own man in his own right and live a more fulfilling existence void of self-sacrifice.
Most people pleasers are desperate for validation and appreciation. People-pleasing can have serious risks to your health too. It’s a lot of pressure and stress on you, and you can make yourself sick from doing too much.
Typically, people-pleasers are afraid of being rejected or abandoned, often preoccupied with what others think, fearful of saying no with no boundaries.
They are often stuck in relationships where they do all the giving. They are often overworked, exhausted, overcommitted and burned out trying to take care of everyone, with little to no self-care practices.
If that sounds like you, or someone you know… listen to latest Rant & Grow podcast right here — There might be a lesson or two from Daniel’s example and breakthrough.