I mentioned in my last post that I am beginning a personal journey of becoming a Stoic. A practicing Stoic that also has BPD, learning more about the Philosophy of Stoicism has actually been quite therapeutic for me and has offered many great coping skills to help with my daily struggles. Does this mean I have figured out how to regulate my emotions when they become dis-regulated? Not entirely, not yet, but what it has shown me, is that it’s ok to feel certain ways about certain things. That these feelings don’t always have to be agreeable with others. As they are MY feelings. That the moments I am asked for my opinion, thoughts or feelings on a matter my response at that point only requires honesty, and if I’m not sharing my honest opinion, thoughts, and feelings about things and I am just telling a person what I feel they want to hear, I am in fact using a form of manipulation. As they aren’t seeing a true version, but a version I’ve created for them. (My life in a nutshell!)
“In order to please others, we lose our hold on our life’s purpose.”Epictetus
This one personality choice. Choosing to please others, a choice that was made without really being aware of the harm it would bring me and my loved ones during my adult years, is one I hope to break. It truly seemed harmless. I was just pleasing others. No, I wasn’t. I had been painting a picture all those years. Only the picture I had been painting was not a true picture of who I am, and now no one knows what the hell they are looking at, (I’m left looking like a Picasso!) At some point in my life before I had made that decision, I had learned that I liked making others happy, or thought that I had some sort of control over making others happy. Stoicism, tells us we only have control of our internal/external responses for ourselves and only ourselves. living as a people pleaser had not only proven to be exhausting, it proved to be a downright painful existence. I’d wonder about, latching on to other’s opinion’s or beliefs and then think who am I? Where do I stand? It was becoming more and more apparent that I had no solid grip of my own identity. No consistency with who I was, no boundaries, just out to please, no limits. Do you know anyone like this? Are you like this? Is it wrong to be this way? Maybe the question is better asked this way, is it right to live this way?
“To find yourself, think for yourself.”Socrates
I have been a self-prescribed people pleaser for so long it’s hard for me to pin-point the age of my youth at which this actually started, but it wasn’t until adulthood that I started to really feel the negative repercussions of this prescribed way of life. I wouldn’t stand up for what I wanted, because I had no actual clue of what that was. I would easily go along with whatever it was anyone else wanted to do, or agree with what was said just as long as they appreciated or made note of my easy-going personality. I wanted to be liked. Not for the things that made me unique, or the things that actually made me, me… I just wanted to be liked and this meant at any cost.
Wearing masks is actually a part of having BPD ( Borderline Personality Disorder) I’d say it’s a side affect of being a people pleaser as well. I listen to several different stoic podcasts daily for inspiration and direction. One morning, I hear that masks are important in stoicism, but they are referred to as roles. When I am at work, I fulfill a role as a teacher. When I am at home, I have two roles, my first role being a wife and second role being a mother. Our first roles are generally given to us when we are born, either as a son or daughter. I grew up thinking that I never fulfilled my roles very well. Especially after my parent’s divorce. Now, after looking at it through the lens of stoicism. I observe that the expectation I once had of myself may have been impossible. I kept trying to fix everything that was broken. That was not my function, which is why I felt my role was left unfulfilled. I look back and notice that I was raised primarily by my dad and was the only daughter. I was also the only grand-daughter on my mother’s side. No one taught me how to be a daughter. I just discovered what that meant on my own, just like we all discover our roles. I can only expect to function in my role, no more and no less. I can only do my best. My best is what I will do. That is all!
I am just now learning how to respond to the world in an honest way. I know this will take major mindful intentions in order for me to make these changes. I plan on making these changes daily and have already taken the first steps. I’m pleased to say, I’m not here to please everyone, I am here to be me. Have a great day, just be you! Those that love you for who you truly are, truly deserve to be in your circle!
**Wanted to include a huge thanks to @dailystoic and @stoiccoffeebreak for wonderful podcasts! Thanks for stirring good thoughts and inspiring and motivating me to change the things I can control. Check out their podcasts if you are learning on the stoic philosophy.