“You have to find your own place where you’re okay with yourself to be free and forget everybody else. I think she’s slowly finding that place where she does not need to make everybody happy. She needs to make herself happy.” – Andre Fuentes on Britney Spears
I’ve been a people pleaser all my life. I am a very insecure person and I have very low self-esteem. I always look for external validation and get my strength from other people. This need to please magnified when I started my therapy. I was (and still am) accountable to a team of professional people who were dedicated to helping me get better. They also worked at the same studio, so they shared notes, information, and experiences to help me better myself. All of the different treatments from all of the different people helped me and made me better, but this structure tied me to other people’s opinions and approval of me and the extent of my progress. I knew I was accountable to them and responsible for my actions (and I knew there would be consequences for not going to appointments). I wanted to do well and get better, but I also wanted to please the people who worked with me and I wanted to be a ‘success story’ in overcoming my impairment. I wanted to be the proof that physical exercise can heal cerebral palsy.
Last summer, my sister told me that I am always trying to please other people and that I need to make myself happy, do the rehabilitation for myself, and do things to make myself happy. My argument – as it always is – was that I grew up a very self-indulgent, selfish person and I need to focus more on others’ needs, be more openly supportive of others, and to get out of my own head and be less selfish. I have realized that there is a difference between being selfish and doing things to please other people.
I realize that everyone is accountable to someone else, but that one of my primary goals in my therapy was not only to get better, but to please the people who helped me and to ‘make something of myself’ by getting better (and thus further pleasing other people). I won’t lie and say that I don’t want to please people because I do. I want other people’s approval and I still rely too strongly on their opinions of me. I just need to accept – and live – the fact that my rehabilitation has to be for myself and my health, not for someone else or because someone else told me to do it. ‘Making myself happy’ is not the same as being self indulgent. I have to tease the two apart and keep them separate, while still working with the best of intentions to get better.