Yeah, I get it. Probably the most frustrating thing about my people pleasing nature is that it is, in part, arrogant. I believe I have the power to affect how people feel. I believe my actions dictate how people will respond. I think I control how people respond to me. I believe, therefore, I can modify my behavior to generate a desired response from a person or people.
It’s crazy. It’s improbable. And it’s arrogant. It’s my ego. It’s what I’m doing instead of esteeming myself.
I don’t want to be arrogant. I want to be authentic. I want to say how I feel. I want to just speak up in real-time when I have a reaction. This manifests itself especially when I experience anger.
Because I am a people-pleaser and want people to react positively to me, I avoid anger. In fact, I don’t really understand anger and I don’t have a healthy management system for my anger. The way I experience anger is this. It builds up until I blow up. It’s like I have some threshold, below which, I don’t really know the anger is happening or, I bury the anger so quickly that I don’t see it happening. Then, when the cumulative anger surpasses a threshold, I feel edgy and snarky. I lash out. To my wife. My kids. My friends. I exude negative, sarcastic behavior. Not in a terribly way. Sometimes it’s even funny. But ultimately I release the surplus anger is negativity and I don’t like it.
Sometimes, the surplus is so great I blow up. I have yelled at my kids. I have (gulp) kicked my dog. Not horrible, but not ideal.
I understand now, through counseling and reading, that I need to learn to identify my anger and release it in the moment rather than letting it build up. When I search my life for opportunities, I see where I am experiencing anger. But my role is so strong I feel that speaking up, despite being my authentic response, is going to probably surprise people.
In most of my relationships I am even-keel and though I respond sarcastically and negatively some times (when I should be emoting anger), I rarely get mad or ‘let it out’. Therefore I am going to try to explain my new behavior with a clarification. So the next time I experience anger and realize it I hope to do something like this:
Whoa, I know this is out of character for me, but I’m trying to be more authentic with my emotions and I am currently feeling angry about X, Y, or Z.
Now, I force a few possible outcomes of my new behavior. Ideally, I will feel better regardless of the reaction. On the one hand, the person I am angry with can freak out and get mad at me for either expressing myself or for not playing the role of ‘never being angry guy’. Alternatively, my reaction could initiate a conversation. That conversation could result in the same reaction of the person being upset with me. Or, it could turn out that I am being completely unreasonable or angry about something else or just overreacting. Which would be completely ok.
The point is that I am tired of letting my anger build up. It ain’t working. And in NOT changing my behavior I am expecting a new result from the same behavior and that, of course, is insane. I seek new results and I must therefore impose new behavior. I’m ready.