How social media has helped me get over people-pleasing
Updated: May 6, 2020
One of the comments I get most frequently from people who have known me for a long time is that they are surprised by how comfortable I am saying what I do publicly. I love getting that feedback because it confirms to me that I'm becoming more open about who I really am. I used to hold back saying what I think publicly. I was worried about what other people would think of me. I was worried that they might not like me. I was worried that I would offend them. I was worried my husband would get fired (legit fear since he works in churches where expectations for ‘pastor’s wives’ usually include not having your own opinion or at least keeping it to yourself).
Since I stopped worrying about what other people think I often have people tell me they wish they could say what they really think and feel.
What helped me change and become more open was realizing that my fear of upsetting people was actually damaging our relationships and working against creating a healthy community. If people only like the version of me that never did or said anything they disagreed with then they aren't really liking me. And if I am only welcome in a community because I am conforming to standards that I really don't agree with, I will never find true belonging in that community.
When I started recognizing how much I was editing what I say because of concern about other people I started to experiment on Instagram with pushing the envelope. For the most part, it was a safe place and if I felt really uncomfortable I could always delete the post.
I have found social media a great place to strengthen my confidence in saying what I think and to find people who think the same way! I’ve been told I give other people permission to be more honest and forthcoming in their posts. And I’ve discovered that very few people really care what I think or do And that has been freeing.
Somewhere along the way, I heard that the majority of people (60%) who meet you will be ambivalent towards you. They will think you are fine. They are comfortable with you but they don’t react strongly to you as a person. The remaining 40% of the people are divided. Half of them will really not like you. And half of them will love you. You will play a big role in their lives. They will be your supporters, cheerleaders, and fans.
At first, I would post and the negative comments or messages would start and I would immediately delete the post. Sometimes I would challenge myself to leave a post up for a full day before I would delete it. Sometimes I would challenge myself to say something provocative or polarizing and let myself get comfortable with being challenged or having someone say something harsh or negative to me.
I write for women who want to be free to live their life aligned with what is deepest within them. They are tired of trying to present an image of themselves that isn't an accurate reflection of who they are, what they believe, think, or feel. They recognize or are beginning to recognize that the patriarchal system they live in has held them back and shaped the way they show up in the world. Many of us have shifted out of conservative religious systems to more progressive ways of seeing the world. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater - but that bathwater stinks! And we need to talk about it.
This week my daughter sent me a text that I am saving. I wrote it out in my journal. She grew up with Safe Sandy ( or at least a person who cared too much about other people's opinions) and she likes Making Waves Sandy much more. She wrote, “When people find Sandy Reynolds let them see you as bold as you can be. I am glad you are stretching out of your comfort zone and saying things that may shock some. Lots of us feel certain things and lack the words to even tell others. I hope when women find you they feel like, “YES! This person is saying all of the things I feel deeply!”
I think it is important for us to remember, every time we post online we are showing people something about ourselves and what we value. Social media is a great place to stretch your truth-telling muscle. It has helped me speak honestly especially when I post feeling a little vulnerable.