Are you a people pleaser?
Are you someone who regularly denies or hides your own feelings and thoughts in order to avoid conflict or rejection? Do you feel or have you learned that you need to act insincerely in order to be accepted or to not cause a disturbance?
This is a very common syndrome and points right to the core of our human suffering. We feel or have learned that it is unacceptable to be our natural selves. This is something we are taught as little children. It is known as socialisation.
Prior to the socialising something else has developed in us, an ego. This is both necessary and the cause of our human problems. The basic purpose of an ego is survival of the organism but the human ego, unlike an animal ego, is not satisfied with mere survival. It wants to plan for all future possible threats to its survival, it wants to be in control of life, not just its own life but all others so that it can out do them if the need arises. This manifests as wanting to always be right, to be loved by everyone, to be invulnerable. The ego wants to be top dog in every situation. It wants to get its own way.
The problem is that everyone else has an ego too and all egos have the same agenda.
Socialisation is societies effort to tame this ego competition so that we can live together with some degree of harmony.
The consequence of this is that each of us live on a tightrope doing a balancing act between getting our own way without incurring rejection or disturbing the peace.
This is the root of your “people pleasing” actions, which aren’t people pleasing at all but rather a way of letting off steam in our own inner conflicted state. We are blaming the other for our inner conflicted state not realising that the problem is our identification with the ego, the “thing” that wants to have everything happen according to its agendas. This conflicted state show up our identification with our ego. This is an example of ego in action. The ego is not the problem per se but our identification with it is.
I sometimes refer to the bloated ego, the bloat being that aspect of the human ego which sees threats where none exist, that wants to be top dog in every situation, that tries to control life. The bloated ego doesn’t even come into play when a sudden life threat arises. We act first in such situations and think afterwards. The bloated ego is the part of the mind concerned with survival of the organism and it is emotionally laden. One way you can recognise it is by the associated reactions and emotions. This is not the same as the intellectual mind which thinks clearly without emotional baggage.
To become able to observe your “people pleasing” actions and reactions is to become able to see your ego in action and to see for yourself your identification with it. Getting beyond ego means becoming able to observe for yourself how your ego functions and how your belief in its authority blinds you to your real self. The fact that you can observe your ego in action shows you that you cannot be it. You are what observes it.
In this process of observation one comes to see that ego demands have been running in them unconsciously. The identification with the ego is so deep and pervasive that we are unconscious of it. We assume that what we are is the ego and never question it. We take its demands as unquestionable law. Actually, the word ego is misleading because it suggests that it is one thing. The ego is the sum total of all the thoughts and beliefs associated with our sense of self and they arise one by one in every possible variation.
Just because we have learned to cover over our ego demands as socialisation taught us to do, does not mean that they have gone away. They have merely gone underground and are still running our lives. This is so for everyone but we can uncover it only in ourselves.
In becoming able to see this process running in ourselves we learn other ways of acting, ways that do not give priority to ego demands, and in that process the identification with the ego loses power. We become conscious of ourselves as the observer of ego. This is a major shift with implications that we cannot imagine at the time.
This is the beginning of a whole new way of being for individuals.
This kind of close self observation and decoding of our observed actions and reactions is what is meant by self-inquiry. It is the process of undoing our false identification and returning to our true selves as Seer of All.