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Recovering People Pleaser and Perfectionist

Hi, my name is CrisMarie, and I’m a recovering people pleaser.

I’m a lifelong addict.

Growing up, I was so terrified of my dad that I thought if I could achieve and please him, I’d be safe. In school, I got mostly B’s and C’s. Then, I can remember in Mrs. Tucker’s 7th grade English Class, getting a D. My dad’s reaction to that one D was all it took.

I vowed I would never disappoint him again. I would be perfect.

My focus shifted to becoming the perfect student. I started studying obsessively. By the time 11th grade came around, I’d moved into all AP classes, getting all A’s. I wouldn’t even come up for dinner. I would miss ski trips, vacations with my parents – just so I could study.

I had no hobbies. Sure, I played the flute, but that got uber-competitive too, fighting for the first chair in the orchestra, band, and yes, the flute quartet.

This patterned continued when I joined the rowing team. My coach, Bob, was a lot like my dad. He’d have angry outbursts. I decided I never want him to be mad at me. I focused on doing anything I could to win. I did extra workouts and pushed myself hard.

If I made a mistake, I was brutal on myself. Mistakes were NOT tolerated. Perfection was the only possibility.

I was constantly putting myself down and beating myself up – as a way of motivating myself to do even more. Everything I did, in the back of my mind, I was thinking – I can’t disappoint Bob.

This created Olympic focus, determination, as well as, immense self-criticism and self-hate. My worth and value as a human were based completely on my results. Not, did I give it my all? Can I be proud of my effort? No.

I treated myself as a tool that either delivered results and was okay, or didn’t, and was a piece of shit. It was that dramatic.

Imagine what happened when I decided to add power-lifting to my Olympic training workout schedule. It didn’t matter that I was already bench pressing 215 pounds. The critic inside my head said, “You have to do more. Get even stronger. You are not enough.”

I got hurt and was kicked off the water to heal just six months before the games.

With no ability to perform, my critic went crazy calling me all sorts of names, telling me I was a worthless human being. Everyone was racing and all I could do was go to physical therapy and swim in the pool. I was miserable.

I isolated myself.

I felt so ashamed.

I was a worthless piece of shit.

My Olympic dreams were slipping away.

I wanted to kill myself, and I was looking for ways to end it all.

But I didn’t. Someone kindly gave me a book, The Mental Athlete, which gave me something I could do. I started visualizing myself rowing. I reconnected to my love of rowing. Surprisingly, I was invited to the Olympic selection camp, and I made the Olympic team.

Yay me!

However, this same pattern showed up later in life when I was working 60 hours a week to please my boss at a top-five consulting firm. I also focused on pleasing my partner by looking perfect, by cleaning the house, by saying yes when I wanted to say no – to lots of things.

I know I am not alone.

  • My friend’s daughter, who’s already been accepted to college, is so focused on being the perfect student, she won’t miss two days of school to go on a family vacation with them.

  • One professional woman I coach is so worried about her boss being upset with her that she won’t say, “No I can’t take that last-minute business trip.” Even though it disrupts her entire life.

  • Another client is so focused on keeping her husband happy that she won’t say, “No, I don’t want to have sex tonight,” or “I don’t feel safe when you yell at me.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

You can end your pleasing and perfectionistic ways. You can cultivate an internal sense of worth. When you do, you’ll get so much energy back to do things that light you up!

Today, I realize my life is not about pleasing others. It’s about pleasing me! It’s about doing my best and being okay with what I did, trusting I did enough.

Today, I can say no even if someone is upset with me. I don’t have to be perfect to be okay. I am safe the way I am.

I never knew how much energy I was wasting on trying to please others, trying not to make mistakes, being hyper-focused on doing my work perfectly. Today that energy shows up as hobbies. I act, I paint and color, I dance, I even work with the horses.

Don’t get me wrong, it has taken lots of coaching and support. I still slip. It has been a slow process, yet a life-creating one.

So for you:

  • What is your people pleasing and perfectionism costing you?

  • How many times are you saying yes when you want to say no?

  • How much energy do you waste doing things that other people want you to do and you don’t?

If you want to change, private message me on Facebook. We can set up a time to chat to see how I can help you.

Today, my motto is: Progress not perfection.



P.S. If this is you and you know you want to change, let’s chat! Reach out to me via Facebook Private Message, and we’ll set up a time to talk to see if we’re a fit to work together.

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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