“Speak your truth – even when your voice shakes”
If you’ve been chasing after ‘peace’ for yourself by trying to keep the peace with everyone else, then you’re probably trapped in the well known, albeit exhausting pattern of people-pleasing.
You end up saying ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’, you agree when deep down you disagree, and you spend countless hours trying to control and worrying about what others think of you, instead of focusing on what you think about you.
The thing is, you’ve been putting other people’s needs first for so long that you don’t know how not to. You just can’t seem to say ‘no’ to the people in your life, yet they have no problem saying a big fat ‘no’ to you.
Your time and generosity are taken for granted, you don’t feel respected, and the worst of it is, deep down, you know the biggest culprit in this is you. You end up disrespecting yourself every time you say ‘yes’, when everything inside of you is saying ‘no’. And each time you do, you feel a little more disappointed in yourself than you did the time before.
You promise that you won’t put yourself in that position again – but time and time again, you do.
Sound all too familiar? Let me introduce you to Barb. She knew the magic formula for ending the people-pleasing pattern.
Barb was one of my mom’s oldest and dearest friends. We affectionately knew her as ‘Auntie Barbie’. Their 60-year friendship began long before I was born, and lasted until they both passed away this fall.
I absolutely adored my Auntie Barbie. She was as fiercely strong as she was gentle, and as a little girl, the appeal of her soft voice and kind eyes was positively irresistible to me.
This past October, I went to my Auntie Barbie’s memorial service. One thing in particular resonated deeply with me.
Her son spoke about how having an opinion was vitally important to Barb. To have an opinion was “to take a stand, to have a view, to have a belief”. She was passionate about life, about engaging in it and about standing for something.
She believed you must have an opinion and no matter what, whatever you do; never ever walk into a room without one. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that since she passed away.
Now, having an opinion doesn’t mean being closed minded to new ideas or claiming to be right even when facts might prove otherwise. Having an opinion requires having what Master Coach Lianne Raymond refers to as “humble arrogance”.
She says, “its bigger than confidence, and more like devotion to what we know.”
She goes on to say, “I know arrogance has a negative connotation, but it comes from the Latin word arrogare, which means, ‘to claim for oneself’ and I think this is part of claiming our authority (in our lives). The humble part is knowing you don’t know it all, and the arrogant part is owning what you do know, hence humble arrogance.”
So, having and holding your own opinion is to claim what you know is true for you, while leaving space to learn and explore what it is you don’t yet know.
I spent so many years as a people-pleaser, desperately trying to make everyone else happy, because I never “claimed for myself” my own opinion. I had set aside what I thought, what I needed, and how I felt, and substituted my own opinions for the opinions of others (that is, both the opinions that I actually knew, and the ones I just assumed I knew).
In my never-ending search for self worth, I was chasing the approval of others by diligently being everything I thought they wanted me to be. What they thought of me, what they needed from me, and how they felt about me became more important than what I thought of me.
But here’s the thing – and this is why Barb’s belief in the importance of having an opinion is so spot on: Your opinion is what makes you “you”. Without one, you can’t know yourself.
Unless you begin to own how you feel and pay attention to your likes and dislikes, you will never be connected to yourself or really know yourself – and if you don’t know yourself, then certainly, no one else can know you either.
Without knowing who you are, you end up feeling like an imposter in your own life. You never feel liked or loved for who you are, because it’s not ‘you’ that people are responding to – it’s this false version of yourself that they like or dislike.
That’s what leaves us wandering around feeling unlikeable or unlovable – we haven’t allowed ourselves to really be seen.
When you let the opinions of others govern your decisions, you end up living their version of your life, and not the life you were born to live.
But here’s the good news – you can start living your life today, by deciding that your opinion is the only one that matters. No one else gets a vote. If you give them one, you have slipped back into living out their idea of who you should be, and have disconnected from who you are meant to be: Yourself.
So, start paying attention to how you feel, what you think, and what you need, and begin to honour that.
Who do you want to be in the world, what is it you want to stand for, and what do you want your life to look like and be like? You get to decide this every single day. No. One. Else.
Liberation comes when we have the courage to have an opinion and own it. Claim your right to your own opinions. Own them. Let them direct your decisions.
Your happiness is found through finding ‘you’. Your opinion is the way home to you. And no matter what, whatever you do, never ever walk into a room without it!