This is a topic that most ‘people-pleasers’ do not want to talk about because it makes them feel uncomfortable. When you have been doing things a certain way for a long time, you can get lulled into a comfort zone. You start saying things like, “Well it’s not that bad.” “It could be worse.” Or, “One day I will get in shape.” These statements are called ‘softeners’ and are a way to find temporary gratification in the moment. They distract you from your inside voice that is screaming at you to do something bigger and better with your life.
Have you ever started on a path to achieve a big dream or a life-long goal just to find yourself settling back in your old ways after just a few weeks? You may have done this multiple times until you subconsciously decide to give up and stick with the status quo. In 2012, an Australian nurse named Bronnie Ware who was working in palliative care with terminally ill patients started asking them if they had any regrets when they reflected on their lives. What she learned prompted her to write a book on the topic, one that certainly pulls on the heartstrings. The number one regret was not living their ideal life because they were more worried about what was expected of them.
Doesn’t that just hit you between the eyes? How many people-pleasers reading this right now think that the most important thing you can do is keep everyone else happy? Yet there it is, at the top of the list. The most common deathbed regret is living the life that other people expect of you and never having the courage to live the life you wanted to. Here is your big opportunity: face up to some big questions now, and you don’t have to share that regret later on.
Many people who are living with the underdog curse can’t actually tell you what their goals and dreams are. They carry around a frustration they can’t explain, and consequently feel life has a certain dullness about it. Doesn’t it make you wonder how many midlife crises’ started out here? We just know we aren’t living the life we really want to live.
Still, many people can’t actually define what that is. They get stuck in a cycle of people-pleasing and keeping everyone happy while denying their own nagging dissatisfaction because they’ve never sat down to really think about some things.
Before you can take one step ahead, you need to take two steps back to see how your life is not making you happy. Allow yourself to feel the pain of dissatisfaction and unfulfilled dreams that the status quo has offered so that it’s no longer a viable place to stay. Then think of realistic goals that would make you happy and write them down. To do this, you need to spend some time in solitude to ask yourself some tough questions. You will need to be patient as it can take time to truly and honestly answer them.
1. What do I really want? What are my goals, dreams, and values?
2. What is the price if I really go for these goals?
3. What is the trauma if I don’t?
Future Pacing the Change and the Status Quo
Once you’ve written down your goal(s) you have an exercise to do. It’s called ‘future pacing’. This is where you start to look at the future through two different lenses and see what it might hold in store.
What happens if you attain that goal? What happens if you don’t change at all? Write down the positive stuff first what is the promise of your goal?
• Is it that you’ll enjoy your job finally?
• Maybe you’ll be able to take your family on that dream holiday.
• Perhaps you’ll be able to make the difference in the world that you’ve always wanted to make.
• Maybe you’ll gain financial freedom after years of debt.
What will your life look like, how will it improve, if you attain that goal? It’s important that you know exactly. What is the great promise of this goal? What is the carrot? What picture do you need to keep clear in your mind’s eye to inspire you to keep on track?
You can even use your people-pleaser tendencies for good here:
• Will your kids or your spouse be proud of you?
• Who would you be setting a good example for?
• How would it make you feel?
Following goals often means sacrifice of time, energy, and resources. But if you have the promise in mind, you will know what price you are willing to pay. There will be times when you don’t feel like persevering. You may even feel like giving up. But, there are keys to getting through these times. Always have the promise clear in your mind. You wrote it down on your list just now. Remember it. Focus on the outcome rather than the cost. But remember, there is also a cost to maintaining the status quo.
Dr. Don MacDonald has spent 17 years in the health and wellness industry as a chiropractor in Edmonton, Alberta. It was from his position at the adjusting table that he noticed a common frustration developing into a major stressor in the lives of many patients. He identified it as ‘the underdog curse’ which stopped them from living their best lives. Dr. Don is now a life coach and motivational speaker who empowers people to live their best lives. In July of this year, he released his best-selling book “The Underdog Curse” which addresses why people sabotage their own happiness and what they can do about it. His book is available on Amazon and Kindle; Sign up for his “Crush the Curse” newsletter at: www.theunderdogcurse.com