My crippling desire to make others happy has been a plague to my own progress and freedom. I’ve done my best to maneuver conversations to avoid friction or confrontation — seeing them as warning signs not to proceed rather than invitations to discover the truth.
It's not restricted to only close relationships. In my head, it makes sense to feel protective or responsible for family and close friends. However, my people-pleasing has historically included those I didn’t even know or care about.
Whenever I have the urge to speak up or post something online, I would think "What if no one agrees with me/likes what I have to say/or gets upset?”. For some reason, the idea of not being liked was unimaginable. It was enough to force me to put my hand back down or press delete instead of send.
In part, social media magnified my already cautious state. When it’s easy to define engagement by the number of likes, hearts, follows, or comments, the need to get positive feedback is heightened. The goal becomes the response I receive rather than the message I communicate. The fear of silence rivals my fear of being disliked — I’m not sure which is worse: hearing crickets or boos.
As I’ve grown as an adult — and as a father — I’ve stopped caring as much about what others think. I’ve started to see that disregarding someone’s thoughts didn’t mean I was uncaring. It says I have set boundaries on how much their temperament would affect my own. Any comment — positive or negative — didn’t deserve to take up my headspace.
It doesn’t matter if something is disliked, mocked, or hated. It’s okay if no one consumes what I share. I’m beginning to place higher importance on my values, my contributions, and my family. In fully understanding what I hold dear, I realize most of the things I was worried about aren’t worth my time.
The hesitation to share still creeps in on occasion. My judgmental internal dialogue is not quickly silenced. It’s easier now to push past it knowing most people won't see it, and it's okay if they don't.