Do you do that thing where you put other people’s needs ahead of your own?
Do you sometimes think you’re responsible for other people’s feelings?
I do. I mean did. I mean, I still do but not as much.
And I get it. Human beings are social creatures. We’re hard wired to care what others think. It’s a survival mechanism. Get yourself kicked out of the cave for scribbling over someones drawings or “borrowing” your cousins saber-tooth necklace and you’re good as dead.
Humans need to work together to provide food and shelter and raise families.
Kindness, compassion and understanding are wonderful traits.
But our instinct to care what others think can become distorted. We can become hyper vigilant and take it too far.
Other people’s feelings.
I grew up thinking it was my job to make sure other people were okay. That no one felt left out.
I’d watch my brother and sister and if I saw something I thought would upset my mother I’d try and compensate. I’d do more dishes. Be more “sensitive.”
My sister used to call me “mother like.”
Me (left) and Jane (click to see Jane’s gorgeous textile art!)
Don’t get me wrong I did plenty of things to upset my parents, it’s just sometimes, about some things, I was hyper aware. I also went through a bitchy spell—age 12 to 13 was my worst—and I was possibly trying to make up for it.
Whatever the reason, I fussed when I thought someone might get upset.
And I struggled to say what I wanted.
You know in Runaway Bride where Julia Roberts doesn’t know what kind of eggs she likes because she always goes with however her fiance at the time eats them? I was like that, except I knew what I liked I just felt safer saying what I thought people wanted to hear.
Put on your own freaking mask!
It’s easy to convince ourself that taking on the mantle of a feelings-look-er-after makes you a “good person.” But it says more about our own insecurity.
And it’s arrogant.
You’re not responsible for how other people feel. They’re perfectly able to do that on their own.
And like they say in the in-flight safety guide—take care of yourself first.
People just want you to be you!
PS: Do you do this too?? Anyone? Anyone?