If there was a gold medal for People Pleasing I'd have won it many times over. Until not so long ago everything I did was about trying to make people like me. I'd swallow controversial opinions and suck up to people - even if I didn't like them. If I'd had a catchphrase it would have been: "No really I don't mind, you choose!"
The thought of someone being displeased with me was the worst thing I could imagine, and I was forever trying to make things OK with people when the truth was, there wasn't actually much wrong in the first place. The concept of letting bad feeling blow over was alien to me: if there had been conflict or disagreement I needed to make it right. I apologised - a lot - for things I didn't actually think were my fault. Just to keep the peace. And to continue trying to make everyone like me.
Sound familiar? It's certainly the case for many of the women I help. Their daily existence is one geared around keeping others happy. Having anyone thinking badly of them fills them with fear.
The problem, of course, is that when all your energy goes into pleasing everyone else, there's nothing left for pleasing you. You lose sight of who you are, because you're constantly trying to present a version of yourself that you hope others will find pleasing.
But over the last couple of years, I've ditched my People Pleasing ways, and learned some Lizi-Pleasing ones. I've started listening to that little voice inside me. I've begun to share opinions that might be unpopular. I've started to stand up to others when they don't treat me how I deserve. And most importantly, I've learned to confront difficult behaviour head-on. I don't spend precious energy wondering and worrying... I come straight out and ask people. "Why did you say that to me? Did you realise how upsetting that was for me?" Or I tell them the impact of their actions: "It was really unkind of you to do that. It made me feel shitty."
What this means, of course, is that I've had to let go of the need to make everyone like me - and it wasn't easy at first. But once I started to understand the inner peace and contentment that comes from taking account of my own needs, it mattered less that others weren't happy with me.
And of course, in standing up for myself I've managed to pick up some haters along the way. This year I've dealt head-on with a handful of people who haven't liked the way I've gone about doing things, and who have made their negative feelings towards me very clear. But amazingly, I've been fine about it. For the first time ever I've known there are people who actively dislike me, and I haven't minded a bit. Because the "haters" represent a very important development for me... they show me how far I've come in being true to myself; in living authentically; in being a Me-Pleaser rather than an Everyone-Else-Pleaser. Whether they've shown it by unfriending me on Facebook or by insulting me in shop queues (yes, really!), I've lost no sleep whatsoever over those who have seen the real, authentic me and decided they didn't like her.
I think I'm pretty safe in saying that I'm well-liked. But now I know it's because people like the real me rather than the version of me that I think they want to see. So whilst I'm certainly not on a mission to gather too many haters, and whilst I'd still much prefer that people like me than not... in 2020 I'm counting Haters as a measure of personal success as much as I'm counting Followers!