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People pleasing as an acceptable form of lying (and oreo binges)

Maybe you read the title of this post and it horrified as I was when this realization first dawned on me.

Because if you are like me, you bought the “female social conditioning” package hook, line and sinker. You did (or attempted to do) people pleasing just as good as you could. And, if you are a midwesterner, oh girl, then you got the double whammy of midwestern niceties AND female conditioning. I’ve heard this is true in the south as well.

You efforted and hustled and DID ALL YOU COULD to fulfill upon that which you were indoctrinated to believe makes a good woman.

I used to try SO HARD to be the type of woman who could plaster on a smile and say what everyone wanted to hear, go along with bad behavior or sarcastic, cutting remarks and pretend like none of it happened. But I didn't want to be a liar, and I didn't like pretending away the obvious.

Of course, the pretending was barely skin deep, because I then spent most of the night attempting to eat away all the feelings I had denied, ignored and pretended my way out of.

Feelings aren't meant to be eaten, they're meant to be felt, and when need be, expressed.

These days, thankfully, I don't fall prey to the standard status quo expectations of women and I don't eat my feelings anymore. I am pretty well situated in my child free, single woman of 40 lifestyle. I'm plain spoken, kind but direct and willing to say the thing that most people might ignore or skirt around out of social decorum. Don't get me wrong, I don't need to say or express every little thing I think or feel. That in fact, is one of the miracles of getting sober around feelings and food, when I have a real relationship with the feelings, I know what is merely a passing irritation and doesn't need a lot of attention and what is a genuine injury and could use a little more attention and expression. But every once in a while, the insidious expectations will break through and I can see where I don't measure up to the typical people pleasing.

And where, if I did, doing so would actually be me lying- to others, and to myself.

Because, should I go down that path of people pleasing, while I may be protecting those around me with my by not saying what's true for me, acting how I think they want me to and thus keeping the peace in that moment, I'm harming myself.

And ultimately, I'm harming our relationship. I am lying to them about who I actually am by not saying what's true for me, and in doing that, who I really am doesn't shrinks further and further into the background with each little lie (or further into the bag of oreos as the case may be).

Additionally, I'm harming the relationship with that person because we never fully get to know one another as who we really are, if we're both shining on the people pleasing act, then we actually are interacting with one another's facade, not our humanness. Inevitably, the facade interactions either become so dull that we drift apart, or worse, all the unspoken, bottled up things finally explode and cause wreckage in the relationship.

I'm aware that this phenomenon isn't solely a female thing, although I do think that men are culturally allowed to be more direct and have a wider array of feelings and moods than women (but not sad moods or feelings).

I know that we equate hearing the truth with difficulty, "the bitter truth" or "the hard truth", but the reality is, having spent many many years with people who have made truth telling their true north, I know that it actually feels FAR better to receive the truth from someone than to live in the vagueness and confusion of the lies of people pleasing. Truth only feels bitter or hard when we don't interact with it very often. When it becomes natural and real, it's quite easy to navigate, to be kind around the truth, to say it lovingly and gently.

I want real relationships in my life, and I suspect you do, too, with real people who say the real thing.

That kind of realness isn't harsh, cruel or cutting- and it keeps me out of the oreo binges.

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