Updated: Sep 21, 2019

You don't want to be a doormat, do you? Let me walk you through the door that would explain why you should not let others treat you like a pushover and be stepped on.

If there’s one thing I often look back to with nostalgia, it would be those precious, warm nights when I would diligently tell stories to my young children; (with my voice ever-changing to fit every character’s role, much to their delight!) when their innocence was all that kept them wide awake up until late in the evening -- oblivious to whatever else is going on around them.

I especially recall relating some of the stories written by Aesop, the famous Greek writer well-known for his fables that feature animals and always end up imparting moral lessons, one of which goes like this…“In trying to please all, he had pleased none.

Such a simple short-story is told about a man and a boy, who went to town to sell a donkey. But along the way, every time they would chance upon many people; the man was always quickly influenced into taking actions as he heard them say. Eventually, this constant behaviour of trying to please other people backfired on the man and easily cost him a donkey for money; and in the end, he had actually pleased nobody.

Well, we all are guilty of this, including myself. In fact, I am the type of person who truly hates conflict in any form; most especially when it comes to my relationships: family, friends, colleagues, etc. I delight in knowing that the people closest to my heart are being happy and joyful of the bond we share. While I make sure that those others who are outside of my sphere are impressed by my people-pleasing attitude.

People pleasers would often find themselves doing any of the following to actually feel good about themselves:

1. They seek the approval of other people in almost every little thing they do and feel guilty making small decisions on their own.

2. They’re always occupied with doing things for other people and don’t consider their own needs like taking a much needed rest or break.

3. They never say no to any request made by other people, even if they know very well that they won’t be able to commit enough time or attention to it.

4. They fear that others would stop liking them if they say what they really mean even if done in a non-offensive manner.

Such are some of the reasons why we would often try as much to please other people even at the expense of being true to our own selves. And by this, I mean avoiding any situation that might and could create chaos with any of them. Hence, in my pursuit of maintaining that equilibrium, I lose my self-esteem in the process; as well as the people I would have wanted to keep into my life, but have almost lost them too, literally and otherwise.

I could name a not so few individuals who actually made me realise this. And, they are the ones with whom I could truly be myself and not worry about being judged or disliked. I could voice my opinions; raise my comments; and act in certain manners; but still have them on my side. I am always welcomed with arms wide open, no matter what. In return, you wish you could give them back more than they deserve.

My mother is one of such few and rare, if not endangered, species in this world. All this time, she has made me feel valued and appreciated for all the things I’ve done, no matter how simple they are. That is despite knowing in my heart of hearts that I have failed to please her myself on many occasions.

I realised that it’s never wrong to assert yourself a little, most especially when a situation calls for it. Whenever we try to please others, we are only bound to lose ourselves. We lose our self-respect in trying to win their favour. Our principles and values could get crumbled just like that of a castle made of sand. So, you need to be really careful -- as building another castle may not be as easy as you think. The tide could get so high, gradually destroying the emotional investment you put in.

Trying to please other people who are not even deserving of the least attention from us is like giving away our right as an individual to be heard and seen, to be listened to; to be understood; to be treated with respect, and so on. So, stop pleasing others and start doing things for yourself -- as you please. Just avoid stepping on anyone’s toes and you’re golden.

(Btw, I’m actually thinking now…”Magustuhan nyo kaya ‘to?” Translated: “Would you be pleased with this article?”)

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