As I walked back to my car at a local shopping centre one afternoon, I was pained to see the ravages of addiction on a young woman’s face. I was also reminded not to judge her for the majority of us live with some form of addictive behaviour/s we are trying to come to terms with.
Some addictions are simply more visible on the outside, such as obesity or drug and alcohol addiction, but this is not to say that they are supposedly better or worse than those that are more hidden. Some other addictions that may fly under the radar include (but certainly not limited to):
- constantly browsing the internet
- addictions to video games
- addictions to porn sites or sex
Honestly the list could go on and on.
Time to Get Real
The issue I’d like to address here and one which is vital if you are dealing with burnout or adrenal fatigue is the issue (and quite frankly the addiction) of people pleasing and trying to fix others.
I am the first one to put my hand up and say that this was a major issue for me a few years back. It is why groups such as Al-Anon have been formed, for behind every alcoholic is someone who is enabling that behaviour to continue. Al-Anon was somewhere I went to for a time because of my own very intense people pleasing and fixing and enabling characteristics. Through Al-Anon I gained incredible support and insight in understanding how I was allowing others to control me and how I was enabling the unhealthy behaviours in others to continue.
I’d like to share a little on the different personality traits of the ‘al-anon person‘ vs the ‘alcoholic person‘. Now I’m not saying this is the only type of relationship (whether partner or friend) where this people pleasing occurs. This fixing type of behaviour can come out in all kinds of situations. There are however very specific traits that have been found with the type of person who attends al-anon and the type of person who attends alcoholics anonymous.
A Simple Analogy that I Learnt at Al-Anon
Two people are standing on a chair.
The ‘al-anon person’ wobbles on the chair and falls over, the ‘alcoholic’ does nothing.
The ‘alcoholic’ wobbles on the chair and nearly falls over but the ‘al-anon person’ reaches out and stops their fall.
And so this is the case with the people pleaser or fixer type personality.
You reach out constantly to stop others from falling. You want to rescue them.
But the truth is that doing this drains the life force out of you and in the long run does them a great disservice for as long as their unhealthy habits are being enabled, they will likely not find the need to change.
Have you really considered this?
What if they are meant to fall so that they can come to terms with what is not working in their own life?
What if by constantly looking out for them, waiting to catch their fall, you are stopping yourself from taking care of your own needs and discovering your own life?
What if taking care of your own needs in a much deeper way would in fact enable you to serve others in a much greater way in the long run.
You were not put on this earth to constantly catch others falls, to fix their supposed ‘broken’ behaviours. Yes, you can support them and listen, but you are not here to fix them and please them. If you are fearful of the conflict that may arise by not carrying out the wishes of another person, or if the situation is dangerous for you please get some support for yourself and take some gentle first steps to adjust your own behaviours. Most important is that you do this work in a safe environment.
When you continually look to fix another person, there is an element of expectation that gets created, and I am sure you will find yourself feeling that what you do is never enough anyway.
But, you are enough
You are enough exactly as you are.
It is your job to be you, to follow your own dreams and desires. The world wants YOU.
This is the best way you can be of support.
I wish you much realisation of your people pleasing addiction and behaviours because this acknowledgement will bring you much empowerment. It brings the ability to come back and recognise you. You can do this. You are worthy of releasing the need to please and to fix. You are worthy of recovering from burnout and issues related to adrenal fatigue.