People Pleasing Part 1
edited: Sunday, July 15, 2001
By C P Whitaker
Posted: Saturday, July 07, 2001
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Whitaker's insightful yet tongue-in-cheek views on life are always a joy to read.
Sometimes I believe that Robert Frost's two roads that 'diverged in the wood' must surely have been People Pleasing Plaza and True To Yourself Turnpike. As I work my way through my personal therapy I am discovering that, like many people early on in life, I had a poor sense of direction when I arrived at those crossroads. Or maybe it was that the Plaza appeared to be smoothly paved, brightly lit and well traveled while the Turnpike appeared overgrown, full of potholes and was certain to have toll booth after toll booth along the way.
So I chose what I thought to be the path of least resistance and much to my surprise it turned to gravel, then mud and eventually to quicksand. It has taken me years to remove myself from the mire and the muck, trudge slowly back the way I came and prepare myself to traverse the Turnpike instead.
It never ceases to amaze me how tricky human relationships can be, whether they are friends, family, co-workers or spouses. It seems so obvious that if we do all that we can to make those whom we care for happy, then we will be happy as well. Not so! The first red flag is that anything in life that seems that obvious usually isn't. The second red flag is that it is not humanly possible to be responsible for everyone else's happiness - we can only be responsible for our own. The third red flag is that if we depend on something or someone outside of ourselves for our happiness we will wind up bitter and empty as our time begins to dwindle away.
Problem is, if you come to this realization, make your way back to the crossroads and then head down True To Yourself Turnpike - it makes everyone that's still stuck in the traffic jam on People Pleasing Plaza madder than hell. Think about it. Have you ever been stuck stock-still in traffic on one side of the interstate while traffic is flowing quickly and smoothly on the other side of the median? Do you look over there and think 'oh how nice that they aren't stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, too'? I don't think so. Misery tends to love company.
Unfortunately what we tend to do most often is convince ourselves that we must surely be on the right road by the mere matter of fact that everyone else is on it, too.....
copyright C. P. Whitaker 2001