I Just Can’t Say No to People – Invisible Illness

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How I was groomed to be a people pleaser

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

I have always found it difficult to say no. It’s impossible for me. The irony is, I can do it when I’m around people I know. But when I’m around strangers, it’s a completely different story.

Hey! Can I borrow some money? Sure!

Let’s go to a movie! Cool, I’m in!

Hey, can we have sex? Definitely.

Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

When I was a kid, I was always expected to be the best in everything. My parents were happy with me just being a normal kid but not my grandmother. I had to be the topper in school if I wanted to please her. I had to be good at the piano if I wanted her to be happy. Sports? I had to be number one there too if I wanted to see her smile.

What’s the difference between doing your best and always being the best?

A huge amount of pressure.

There was this constant fear of being chastised. I remember being scared once because I lost a mark in my Math exam. When I told her that I had scored 99%, her expression suddenly became grim and I immediately knew I had screwed up. Apparently, 99 wasn’t a good enough number.

There were clear benefits in pleasing her. I had seen her beat my elder sister for failing her exams. I had been a silent spectator all those times when she had screamed at my sister for not studying. I didn’t want to get beaten and screamed at. I wanted to earn her praise, I wanted the gifts she bought me whenever I topped my class. I wanted to eat the tasty Chicken she cooked whenever I did something good.

The seeds of people-pleasing had already been planted by the time I was ten. Even today, I have nightmares about her being angry and I subconsciously try to please her.

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