How I escaped the TRAP of people pleasing and found Myself

Have you ever felt like you didn’t know yourself at all?  Like you are just the reflection of the people you are around at any given time?  Do you change your mind about something simply because someone else has the opposite opinion you were holding?  Do you ever just “go along to get along” (as my mother used to say)? Try desperately not to “rock the boat”? Overburdened yourself with the problems of others?  Bitten off more than you could chew simply because you didn’t want to have to say no to someone? Sacrificed your responsibilities for the pleasure of someone else?  Worried yourself sick about why someone is or might be upset with you rather than just asking what’s going on?

Oh, cool, me too.  My name is Bethany and I am a recovering People-Pleaser.

{cue the crowd’s obligatory “Hi Bethany”}

Why do we do this?!  


When I was younger, I had a terrible habit of diving headlong into the interests of whoever I was around.  I would plan my entire life around a fleeting interest or menial job. To suit whoever I was around, I would resort to “chameleoning” as I like to call it.  I would say I liked things that I didn’t and say I had done things that I hadn’t. I felt such a desperation for acceptance that I would all but abandon those that actually DID accept me.  I was like an addict, chasing the high of new connections and the acceptance of ANYONE, meanwhile running from my own bad feelings about myself.

I was like this as far back as I can remember.  Then, one day something drastic happened right in the middle of a time of huge changes and upheaval in my life.  A traumatic event left me no choice, I had a conviction like I had NEVER experienced before…. and it was not generally accepted.  Uh oh. All at once, I found my voice, I was immovable for a noble cause and somehow I was met with hostility and anger. I was scrutinized, exposed to criticism and ridicule, and it separated me from people I cared about.  Even so, I didn’t give in to the need to be accepted, and I embraced the feelings of loneliness, however awful.

Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attitude, follow it.
— William James

In addition to everything that was already going on in my life, THIS?!  REALLY?! It was such a difficult time, and I dipped into a depression. For the first time, I really realized that I had no idea who I was.  Everything I thought I had come from seemed so absurd and so much less than how I had always romanticized it to be. During this time I was confronted with my own shortcomings.  I was able to see how I had hurt others around me in the past. However painful this time in my life was, it served an important purpose. I realized that I could stand behind myself, and that no matter the cost, it was easier for me to “live with myself” if I was standing up for what I believed in.  

I had gained a new respect for myself and finally started to value the people who had been accepting of me all this time, even through my flakiness, and abandonment of them in the pursuit of fleeting interests or people.  They deserved my love, respect, and time more than anyone else, especially considering how patient they had been with me.

As time wore on, I began making some new friends, but rather taking a leap into an intense friendship, like I used to do, I fostered slow-growing relationships.  There were a couple of women in particular who epitomized the female persona I had ALWAYS avoided.

This is where it got scary.  These were confident women. Sure of themselves, convicted about who they are, educated, non-petty, non-dramatic WOMEN.  So, you may be asking, Bethany, why would that scare you?? I’ll tell you why. Because these are the people who tell you what they really think… right there…. in front of you.  These are the people who will call you on your shit. Conflictual as it was, I avoided females like these like the PLAGUE up to this point in my life because somehow it seemed better to have people smile and lie to your face and then talk trash about you after you left, rather than stand toe-to-toe with honesty. These authentic women I once feared, I now revered.  What a shift!

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let out true selves be seen.
— Brene Brown

 Throughout my journey to that point, I had really been able to recognize the strength and power in being AUTHENTIC, a trait I had not yet actualized in myself.  I have always been so sensitive to criticism, and easily crushed. I have a LOT of feelings, y’all. And I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t terrified when I first started getting close to these women.  But, I wanted to be my best self. I wanted to be like them, but my own brand of them. The authentic Bethany.

This was the next step in my mindfulness journey, and an exercise in self-awareness.  I knew that I had this tendency to “chameleon” and reflect others automatically, so I had to me very intentional to change this.  I began internally asking myself things like, “do I really agree with this person?” and “is that really something I like, or am I just trying to be agreeable?”.  This was something that occupied more of my time than I would like to admit now, but it was a total overhaul of how I had always done “people-ing”. As time wore on, I became less and less conscious of asking myself those questions, until I all but stopped.  Being Bethany had finally become automatic.

Accept no one’s definition of your life, Define yourself!
— Anonymous

These friendships have changed me for the better.  I have been able to accept the challenges I have met with them, and I cannot speak enough to the relief of always knowing where you stand with someone.  And how INCREDIBLE to be liked and even loved by a person who knows the ACTUAL YOU rather than a facade you are putting on to impress them. There’s no catty competition, just a genuine care and acceptance for our differences.   

And let me just say, that being authentic is not the same as being a Salty Bitch (contrary to popular belief).  You can be an honest and authentic person who stands up for their self, says what they mean, means what they say, sets boundaries, and says no when they need to while ALSO being kind and giving grace to others.  The goal is to be a mature adult who can have mature adult conversations and conflicts, which we’ll address in more detail in a future blog.


Thank you for making it this far!  If you can relate to any of this and would like to share, I would love to hear YOUR story of how you escaped your people-pleasing to find your authentic self.  You can comment below, or if you would prefer you can email me directly at