I was watching an episode of Queer Eye the other night and the person they were helping said something that really hit me.
“I like feeling needed.”
You know how when you hear something and for some reason at that moment its surrounded by neon lights and it screams for you to pay attention.
That sentence spoke to me. And for this reason –
People pleasers, caretakers, those with codependency, we live with the mistaken belief that
being needed equals feeling connected.
It’s understandable that we would think this. We have given enough time and energy taking care of others that we feel they are now reliant on us and therefore connected.
But that is a little bit messed up. Not to be judgmental, but it’s still a little bit messed up.
People pleasers have a skewed view of relationships. We often think that our relationships are conditional and tenuous. This comes from our early family experiences.
As kids we learned to do things that pleased important people in our lives. We had to do this to feel safe and close to them. To feel connected.
Some of us truly had to do what our caregivers wanted or needed to ensure our place in the family. Maybe our caregivers were in distress themselves and their emotions took precedent. So we learned to keep our feelings to ourselves.
We might have gotten overlooked as a kid. Maybe our household was chaotic. Maybe our caregivers were absent. Whatever set us on this path of people pleasing, its led us to a point where we don’t think we are good enough unless we are serving others.
We have this skewed view of relationships where we think we need to EARN or PROVE our worth so the other person will stick around.
This is where our people pleasing pattern began.
Focus on others.
Do things to make people happy with you.
Don’t have needs. If you do, deal with them on your own.
So yeh, I get it… “I like feeling needed.”
If I can do your laundry, cook your meals, drive you to school, do whatever YOU need then I believe I am ensuring a place of importance in your life.
But…here’s the rub with this line of thinking.
Now the person doesn’t know how to wash their own clothes, make a simple meal for themselves or learn time management and responsibility to get to a place on time without help.
We have deprived that person of their independence because we don’t trust that the relationship is important to them unless we are serving their every need.
Watching the woman on Queer Eye was difficult. I was tired just watching the episode. This lady really NEEDED help. Her family situation was such that she really wasn’t going to be able to sustain the level of caretaking she was doing. She had no idea how exhausted she was. She had overridden her needs for so long that she didn’t even know she had them!
What are some of the stumbling blocks to asking for help?
Here’s what I came up with.
- No one likes to admit they need help. Because of our culture here in the US, needing help means you are weak, incapable and vulnerable. Yuck!
- Pleasers have no idea what THEY need so why would we expect them to identify a need, believe its okay to reach out and ask for help?!
- We believe our needs are HUGE and we don’t want to burden people.
- What if we ask and the other person can’t help. Now we’ve admitted we are in need AND we are left ALONE again in our need.
I know this is just the tip of the iceberg with this beast of ASKING FOR HELP. I am sure more epiphanies will emerge and I cant wait to share those as well!
If you’d like to hear how I work with clients and their hurdles to asking for help, check out this video!