Do you feel like you need to please everyone?
Do you feel as though it is your responsibility to put in the effort to make sure your relationships don’t fall apart?
Struggle to put yourself first?
I know the feeling.
When I was younger I spent my whole life trying to support my mother through my dad’s drinking, while seeking his approval as a son, all of which left me no emotional energy left for myself. Then I did some good old fashioned self reflection and discovered that, yup, my relationships with other people was destroying my relationship with me.
And if you feel like you’re in the same boat: it is time to change. It is time to get a grip on relationships and stop feeling exhausted trying to make everyone happy.
It’s time to put your first. And yes, I know that does not sound easy. It sounds terrifying but exciting at the same time, right? And the reason it feels that way is because you are suffering from the psychological condition called insecure attachment
Signs of insecure attachment
You’re a highly sensitive empath. Your mind had trained itself to be hyper-sensitive to other people’s emotions so that you can spot any potential issues in relationships and deal with them before the same thing happens that happened before.
You feel a conflict between what you want for yourself and what is right for your family / relationships Depression
Constantly seeking approval
Lack of emotional regulation
Fear of abandonment
Feeling like it is your job to hold relationships together
Never quite trusting the other people in your life
Insecure Attachments Make You Need To Please Everyone All The Damn Time
The cause of all your needing, yearning, and fighting, is a psychological condition called Insecure Attachment.
Insecure attachment is the state of feeling insecure in relationships (often with parents or spouse). This usually results in the belief that the person constantly needs to earn the love and support of people in their life.
Insecure attachment begins in childhood, often because of parents getting divorced or some traumatic event that causes family breakdown. This unfairly makes the kid (you) feel like they did something wrong. Why did mommy and daddy break-up? Why are they not here together with me now? What did I do wrong?
Newsflash: It was not your damned fault the relationship turned sour.
It doesn’t feel that way. As a kid you’re not able to think, “This has nothing to do with me”. You think, “I must have caused it somehow”. You feel guilt for something that was not your fault.
Flash forward to today: That belief—the belief that a baby-faced you somehow made your family breakup—has now been eating at your core for years. And here is the big deal. Even though you now logically understand that it was not your fault, your belief has gone beyond logic and reasoning. It is now a core part of who you are. And your every day is lived from the point of view that “I lost my family because I messed up bad, and I must never ever do it again”.
Now can you see how your every day is a fight to never again cause a relationship breakdown, because somewhere deep in your mind a little child version of you still thinks it is your fault? Such is insecure attachment. It’s a problem created in childhood that has echoes throughout adulthood.
And all the while your parents, who actually did cause the breakup, do not have to deal with this crap because they were old enough at the time to recognise that sometimes relationships breakdown.
It’s not just parents, either.
Friends can cause insecure attachment too. A traumatic event that breaks up your circle of friends can leave life-long scars. Some kids experience the trauma of being betrayed by their friends and losing some of their closest relationships just because kids are cruel. And this scar stays with them forever in the form of insecure attachment. One relationship turned bad, so we wrongly think that all relationships will end the same way.
Insecure attachments affect us forever. Or, until we actively choose to do something about it.
Are you ready to actually do something about this now? Yes? Here’s how:
- Change painful memories from your past (such as a family breakdown). This will make you feel differently about the event that caused your insecure attachment, thereby changing the ruminations of it.
- Change negative beliefs (like the belief that your parents got divorced because of you).
People with insecure attachment are always busy trying to please others
Psychologists tell THE DAILY MEDITATION that when people feel busy all the time, it is often a sign of insecure attachment.
People with insecure attachment often suffer from fatigue  because not only because are they working for themselves they are also working for everyone else in their lives (family, friends, spouse) in an effort to hold the relationship together.
It starts in childhood.
When we’re kids we have a great need to feel loved, supported, and accepted by our friends, family, and society. This is a vital part of “secure attachment”. And sure enough, the majority of people do end up with secure attachment.
But kids who experience traumatic events at home, whose parents don’t show enough affection, or whose parents get divorced, may develop insecure attachment.
There are four main styles of attachment in adults:
- secure: feeling that our relationships are safe (within reason). These people find it easy to make relationships with others.
- anxious–preoccupied: Desire to always be in close relationships, while feeling that other people do not share that desire.
- dismissive–avoidant: Comfortable without close relationships. Need to feel independent. May consider relationships unimportant
- fearful–avoidant: Want to be in close relationships but fearful, perhaps because of past abuse.
If we don’t genuinely feel accepted and supported when we are kids, we begin to act in ways that we hope will give us approval. 
A child who doesn’t feel accepted will continually attempt to earn their parent’s acceptance by getting good grades at school, behaving well, and doing everything that their parents would want them to do. However, despite all the effort to be perfect the kid still feels they aren’t doing enough. They always do what they think they should do. (If this is you, try this meditation for independence)
This yearning and striving to please others can continue into adulthood and into other relationships.
We may constantly seek the approval of our spouse because we fear being abandoned, or because we rely on them for our self worth.
If you have insecure attachment you’re probably so busy you feel absolutely shattered
People with insecure attachment are always busy.
The reason is that they are constantly torn between two lives. Half the time they’re doing things to get the affection of a certain person (usually a parent or partner). The other half the time they’re going against that parent to do things that are right for them. So they are constantly going back and forth.
The more we try to be what other people want us to be the less we are ourselves, and that leads to lack of self acceptance and lack of self love. We become resentful of ourselves and we come to dislike and perhaps even hate ourselves. And at the same time, we are envious of other people for not feeling that way and we are angry at the people who caused it (parents / spouse).
So, we are stuck trying to please other people all the time while also trying to do what is right for us.
By this point we are basically living two lives. Ones for them. One for us. And at this point it should come as absolutely no surprise that you are exhausted because you are trying so damn hard to please everyone. And you may well end up ill from exhaustion unless you change this now.
So here’s the deal:
- You have to live for you
- You cannot afford to live two lives—one for you / one for them
- You are killing yourself because you are trying too hard to make everyone happy
- You can live your life as you want without worrying about losing important relationships
- Anyone in your life who actually genuinely loves you will be happy that you are living for you
- And if you do not decide to change this now—if you decide to leave it because it’s uncomfortable—you will probably never change and you will end up with resentment.
Change is now or never.
1. Tell the people in your life how you feel and tell them that you are changing. And do it now
This is scary. But it is perhaps the biggest step you will take in your relationships. Tell people how you feel and how you are going to change.
If your insecure attachment is to do with someone who you are on good terms with but simply haven’t opened up to about it, take the step.
Call your mom, your dad, whoever it is, and tell them how you feel.
There is a risk they will not respond favorably. But anyone in your life who deserves to be there will want you to live our life for you. And they will be happy that you are being honest with them.
- Tell them the way you feel—”Mom. Dad. Some part of me has always felt that you two got divorced because of me”.
- Tell them how it has effected you—”I feel like I am the one who always has to fight to hold the family together”.
- Tell them how you are going to change—”I am going to live my life for me”.
- And now, go and buy yourself the biggest bar of chocolate in the entire world because you earned it.
By the way, I know you are terrified to do this. It only makes sense that you find this insane. Your insecure attachment makes you think, “If I actually tell them they will abandon me”. Remember, that is your insecure attachment. That mindset is the whole damn problem. So right now (yes, now), you can choose to continue to be a victim of insecure attachment, or you can do something about it right now and change your life forever.
*Use common sense with this. Do not call anyone who might retaliate (a past abuser) or someone who is not in an emotional state to handle such a call (your mother who has dementia). Only call people you know will be relatively okay with it—such as your sound-of-mind parent whom you already talk to frequently.
2. Practice insight meditation
Insecure attachment stems from something that is occurring in your own mind.
You’re torn between doing things to please the other person and doing things to please yourself. And because of this constant back and forth you can’t stop for two seconds and you are always busy.
The caveat is this: The cause of this inner conflict is in your own mind.
It may have begun because of a past experience. But it is now a part of your mind.
The best solution to this is to become aware of what is happening in your own mind, because when you are aware of your mind you can start to take control of it. And even though this sounds quite deep, you definitely can do it. I’ve written a free guide to Buddhist insight meditation to help you to get started. Try it. Observe what is happening in your own mind. This will make you more aware of how your thoughts and feelings are affecting you.
Then, monitor your actions against your thoughts and feelings.
Ask yourself, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” For instance, why are you trying so hard to please everyone? Is it because your mind keeps telling you that you are the solely responsible for your relationships? Is that thought fair? Do you need to act on that thought? Or, could you decide to think differently.
Change those negative thoughts, and refuse to act on them. Say to yourself, “What happened is not my fault. And I am not going to spend the rest of my life dealing with it”.
3. Read the fantastic book Attached [AMAZON].
Attached is self-help book written by Amir Levine, a specialist in the psychology of attachment psychology. In the book he explains the problem of insecure attachment and gives you pointers to help overcome the problem. Highly recommended.
These techniques will help you to build a better relationship with yourself and with others.
Remember: Your relationships should not be a fight. And they should not prevent you from living the life you want to live.
The root cause of insecure attachment may be in the past. But you can change it today.
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