Have you heard this piece of low-brow philosophy: You can be happy or you can be right? Have you ever heard this? Well, I have, and I used to buy into it until something occurred to me: What a fat load of crap this is!
You can be happy or you can be right, but you can’t be both. Says who?
What they mean is that if you argue with someone, you can either continue to allow whatever it is you are arguing about to escalate to its eventual conclusion, where presumably both parties will go away with their feelings and – even worse – their egos battered. Or, you can just agree to disagree and move on, which allows both parties to feel that the other is a complete idiot and not worthy of logical, rational discourse.
That part, I don’t really have too much of a problem with. But it’s when this philosophy is allowed to penetrate into most other aspects of social interaction is where I draw the line.
“Let me please you” – Vina, Star trek “The Cage”
Too often I have seen others – myself included – allowed others to have their way because they wanted it, usually to my detriment. In this case, what you’re saying is, “I’d rather you were happy more than I want to be right.” Which is fine, but it’s really not.
Being “right” to me means to stand up for those things that you know are correct, not merely those things that you believe or feel to be correct, because there is a subtle but distinct difference between the three
Being “happy” on the other hand, to me means that you have allowed yourself to become subordinate to someone else’s desires, to their values, opinions, and even their whims, and usually to your detriment. Perhaps you’re a “people-pleaser, and people who know me what I think of that!
Being a “people-pleaser” is ultimately a self-centered behavior because its sole objective is centered on making others “like” you, or at least making them not be mad at you. People-pleasing has little to do with giving but it has everything to do with getting. You do some favor for someone and in turn you get safety from that person, safety from criticism, anger, or rejection, and you get to be – at least for the moment – liked by them.
The reality of being a people-pleaser is that you as a people-pleaser will find yourself sad much of the time with the identity of a martyr: “I do so much for others, and I do without, but I always do for others and yet what do I get from it?”
The “people-pleaser” starts out as a person or persons who are sad about their perceived self-worth and lovability. They have come to see themselves in a less than flattering manner and use people-pleasing to manipulate others into making them feel okay about themselves. There is a subtle but distinct difference in truly helping others and simply kissing someone’s butt. For example, would you prefer to read to the blind or do you want to continue to eat dirt from your family and so-called friends so no one will yell at you?
Sometimes, the people-pleaser speaks softly, and is often being asked to repeat themselves. This is because they believe that if they speak too forcefully or have opinions that are not in keeping with their alleged peers, that they might get into trouble. If the people-pleaser takes a stand, they might actually have to stand behind it and maybe risk the disapproval of others!
When you as a people-pleaser or not, allow your needs to become secondary to the wants of others, that definitely comes from a place inside you , a sad place where you feel powerless, unsafe, incompetent, unlovable, and definitely inferior.
You need to let yourself be heard, and take the risks of potentially alienating others because you need to be a somebody, not a something. People-pleasers are nobody in particular. They are just what others want them to be, and that’s sad that you would be so afraid not to be your own man or woman because you’re afraid that your friends would reject you. The only friends that would reject you were never really your friends in the first place, and you need to be good with that concept. Don’t be mad that they made you a fool, because they didn’t. You did that; all they did was to take advantage of your complete willingness to do so. If you want to blame anyone for that, blame yourself. But then know when to let that go. It’s good to take responsibility for your actions, but when the self-recriminations aren’t doing anything constructive, let it go, because it’s only going to hold you back.
So, the next time someone asks you, “you can be right or you can be happy,” just remember that what they’re really asking is, “you can be right or you can be miserable.” Maybe not in the short term, but definitely in the long-term.