If you have developed a coping style that involves pleasing others, figuring out what they want you to say and how they want you to act – and then doing so, than you are in a approval/disapproval pattern. You may think that's not the worst thing I could do because I avoid conflict; don't offend anyone, and the best thing of all, I get a lot of approval.
Do that long enough and you will have a lot of people around you who call you their friend. That might feel pretty good, at least until you start to recognize they hardly ever ask you how you are; what do you need; what would you like to do, and they often turn a deaf ear when you have a problem.
The relationship is one-sided ... you give, they take! There is nothing reciprocal about it. If you start to create some expectations of them to support your needs, they may ask, 'what is wrong with you?' You see, you have made their needs the priority in the relationship, not yours?
Here is what is interesting, we actually do this to ourselves. In our need for approval and acceptance, along with the insecurity of not being good enough or not feeling feeling important enough, we sit in the second row of life. If we want to get out of that row there are three things we need to do, and no one can do them for us.
They are not difficult to do, but we resist because we fear 'seeing, accepting and loving' our whole self, just as we are. We fear seeing our flaws and we fear others seeing them. What a hell of a trap to be in!! We don't want anyone to see our fear, we get guilty if we make a mistake or disappoint someone; we feel ashamed if someone sees our imperfections, and we punish ourselves with self-criticism. So, our solution, inadequate as it may be, it to please and placate others. Never mind that these other people have their own flaws, limitations and weaknesses, but, we act as if we are the imperfect human being.
The cost? Very high! We have a weak relationship with ourselves because we have disconnected from our core; and, we have a weak relationship with others because it is not reciprocal and the relationship is conditional.
The solution: self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-love. I am aware I am imperfect and will embrace my imperfections as much as I do my strengths. Once I am aware of them, I will accept and not judge them. In fact, I will simply observe them. When I reject any part of my flaws I reject all of myself. I can't cherry pick parts of myself, because I am a whole person made up of strengths and limitations. If I pick and choose what I want to expose or avoid exposing, I lose my sense of self which is emotionally and mentally exhausting.
On the other hand, if I give up all sense of pretense, and get comfortable with who I am, I give myself one of the finest gifts of life, freedom to be who I am and to love myself unconditionally. When I am aware I am not confident in a given situation, or I have social anxiety, or my performance is not as good as others, I need to accept those aspects, embrace them and love them. Sound weird? I don't know why. Do we reject other's when they struggle?
Entry into the second row starts early in life, but we don't have to be stuck there. If you tend to compare yourself to others, STOP! Comparison is the thief of joy! It is also the thief of self-confidence, risk-taking, creativity, and more.
Try being more self-aware and accept what ever you realize about yourself. Don't reject it. We fear rejection by others because it is painful and hurts; but, self-rejection is devastating because it is the ultimate rejection. If I don't love me, who will?
Practice: self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-love and free yourself to live your truth.