• Sandy Reynolds

The impact of pandemic life on people pleasers

Like millions of other people, I watched Oprah interview Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last week. Some disclosures surprised me. I've written about the monarchy in the past, but today I want to talk about the response to the interview. I find it fascinating how people are taking sides in the aftermath.

Many viewers have decided whether they believe Harry and Meghan or the Royal Family’s version of events. Some people have been very vocal. I found myself taking sides as well. I think Meghan has been subjected to harsh criticism. The phrase ‘subjected to criticism’ is accurate. It appears that the tabloid media was letting her know she was a subject - not a part of the Royal family.

There was a point in the interview when Meghan talked about the learning curve as she stepped into her role within The Firm. I thought of her learning to curtsey and then learning the British national anthem and all the hymns. She did all those things, knowing that if she slipped up in any way, her failings would be broadcast all over the world. It seemed to me that one of the causes of hurt for Meghan was the lack of recognition for the effort she had put in to try and be part of the Royal family. She wanted someone to come to her defence.

Have you felt that way? Have you ever entertained the thought, “I’m not being recognized for all the effort I am putting in, but I am getting attacked for everything I do wrong?” I’m guessing you have. I know I have.

We are officially at the first anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic. If there is one thing I’ve noticed this year, we are quick to criticize people. I heard a rant this week about President Biden wearing a mask after being vaccinated. He was being accused of virtue signalling. And of course, just a few months ago, the media was all over Donald Trump because he wasn't wearing a mask. When it comes to what people think, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

This can make it feel like a dangerous world for people-pleasers. Whatever choice you make, there will be someone who sits in judgement on it. Wearing one mask? You should be wearing two! Getting a vaccine? You’ve bought into the big lie. Not getting a vaccine? You are a conspiracy theorist. Are you seeing a few people in a small bubble? You are endangering the lives of others. Not seeing anyone? You are living in fear.

I think most people are doing everything they can right now to make the best, well-informed choices possible for them. You are probably sincerely trying to find the balance between your own health, the health of the people close to you and your larger community. And you are probably grappling with and weighing some of the bigger questions around the loss of freedom and government control. But at some point, you’ve had to decide what action is most aligned with your beliefs. And not everyone will agree with you. And that can be difficult for people-pleasers.

You may not have anyone say to you, “I see how hard you are working to make good choices based on your beliefs right now." We may have reached vastly different conclusions based on our understanding of the current reality. I think we are all doing our best. One year ago, we had no idea how crazy things were going to get. There is still so much to learn about how this virus works, spreads, mutates, and impacts people long term.

On this pandemic anniversary, I suggest we ramp up in compassion with each other. We can recognize that we share in the disruption of life as we knew it. We share the desire to do the right thing and make the best choices for ourselves. We all have had our fears triggered. It may be the fear of being controlled, the fear of losing your rights, the fear of dying, the fear of losing your financial security, or the fear of the unknown. It may be the fear of what other people think of our choices.

Just like Meghan Markle, you can learn all the hymns and how to curtsey, and someone is going to call you out on something. It’s the world we live in, and the pandemic has amplified it. So, let me acknowledge that you’ve done a good job this year. You’ve worked hard to adapt to new conditions. I have no idea what you’ve had to live with, and neither does anyone else. But you’ve done it. You are here. You can be pleased with yourself.

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