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  1. #1
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    Learning to please may cause anger problems later in life

    Because I think about things (life, love, psychology, philosophy, religion, etc) a lot I have these epiphanies from time to time. It is like, for a brief instant, that I can see clearly and understand what is going on in my life and what causes my unhappiness, stress and anxiety. Sometimes it is something very simple and sometimes complex, but it rarely lasts more than a few hours or days. It is like a cold front sweeping in behind a storm that clears out the clouds and leaves the sky clear and dry before the next front comes through. Usually I remember the thoughts and the nature of the revelation, but when I remember I don't feel the same relief as I did when the thoughts first quickened in my consciousness.

    My own belief is that these epiphanies or revelations are the result of my own hard work, but also a spiritual gift. They usually come at difficult times and they enable me to go on when things are really tough. (Yes, I believe in God, Angels ... I believe we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.)

    Most recently I was thinking about my childhood, my family and in particular my parents when I had one of these "aha" experiences. I am the youngest of 3 children. My father and my brother are deceased. Most of my early childhood was spent trying to please everyone, but I have become an angry adult and I have always wondered if the two were related and why. I think I know a little about how that works.

    As an over-adaptive child I tried to please my parents and siblings to keep them from abusing me. I thought if I could make everyone happy and if I "behaved" they would leave me alone. The home I grew up in was swirling pool of emotional undercurrents. Nobody said what they thought or meant and everyone hid their true feelings and motives. But as the youngest, I received the brunt of the unexpressed hostility. My coping mechanism was to try harder to please; please my mother so she would notice me, please my father so he wouldn't be so angry and withdrawn, please my brother so he would stop abusing and molesting me and please my sister so she would stop using me to get what she wanted.

    As an adult that coping method no longer works. It does, however, lead to my being taken advantage of and manipulated. That has lead to anger and anger management problems, and also problems with authority figures. Bottom line is I want people to like me and I will do anything to make that happen including things that are not healthy. That results, ultimately, in anger and resentment.

    Now I have to find what my adult needs are and a new coping mechanism to get those needs met on a level playing field - adult to adult. The trick is not falling into the same patterns when surprised or under stress. Replacing old behaviors and attitudes with new ones is very, very difficult work.

  2. #2
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    Re: Learning to please may cause anger problems later in life

    I can relate to what you have said i as a child would do anything to keep peace in the family. Clean the house look after younger kids it never stopped i just wanted peace. Anger yes it did come later I hope you as a adult now can get some guidance some therapy to help you change It is very hard to change ones mind set on their own. Good for you for acknowledging that change is needed hun hugs

  3. #3
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    Re: Learning to please may cause anger problems later in life

    Yes, my unhappiness as an adult comes from trying to use old coping behavior that no longer works. I actually make things worse. I've been able to change some things with a lot of therapy and by reading and practicing. Unfortunately, old behaviors die hard and I regress when under stress. Usually that means trying to please which leads to disappointment and anger. I try to stay in touch with my own feelings but part of the coping behavior that is maladaptive is that I spend way too much energy and time trying to figure out what the other person needs and make them happy.

    I've found that when that happens I have to try and stay in touch with my own emotions - that is the new coping mechanism I am trying to learn.

    I can remember as a child that I could make my parents smile and be happy by what I did and unhappy by what I did not do or did wrong. My parents were not happy people but that was their problem not mine even though I believed it was my problem. That sort of power in a child makes them feel powerful and omnipotent as if the child can control the adult, but it has made me miserable as an adult because I try to control people. Its not malicious and I don't think it is narcissistic, but really comes from reaching the wrong conclusions as a child.

  4. #4
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    Re: Learning to please may cause anger problems later in life

    I wonder if "people-pleasing" is a facet of codependence? Am I trying to control people because I am afraid they will try to hurt me? In my child's mind I must have decided that if I did that I wouldn't get "hit" or abused. In the adult world it doesn't work that way. Sometimes I think the answer is to have more courage.

  5. #5
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    Re: Learning to please may cause anger problems later in life

    One of my favourite authors is Brene Brown. She works with feelings of shame and the ability to say no without feeling guilty. Many of us who grew up in dysfunctional families find it difficult to say no and set boundaries without feeling like it's not our right to do so. Her work has been instrumental to my recovery. My signature line is a quote from one of her books - it reminds me every day that it takes courage to be me.
    Change begins when you practice ordinary courage

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