You can’t please everyone all the time. We’ve all heard it, and when we do, we nod our heads and smile at how obvious it seems. And then we go right back to trying to please everyone.

It seems to be one of the great ironies of modern womanhood – we know we can’t live our lives trying to make everyone around us happy and yet we can’t seem to stop. We work ourselves into a frenzy to be the perfect employee, the perfect wife, the perfect friend, the perfect mom, and on and on. Then we look around at our life and wonder why we feel so frazzled.

The hard truth is, we can’t have sustained peace and joy in our lives as long as we spend them trying to please everyone around us.

Living to avoid disappointing others is a recipe for exhaustion. (Tweet that!)

It robs us and those we love of the chance to really get to know who we are. So why is it such a hard habit to break?

At its heart, people pleasing is a kind of perfectionism – one that’s been running the show for so long we don’t even recognize it anymore. It’s a reaction to the chatter in our minds that tells us we aren’t good enough to deserve love on our own. Instead we must earn it, by living up to a never-ending list of expectations. That same voice says taking care of our own needs is selfish – and good girls are never selfish.

So, we keep going, thinking that if we work hard enough or find the right trick everything will fall into place. Trapped by our need to be loved and accepted and frustrated by the fact that we don’t ever feel like we’re doing enough.

The more we live this way, the more frustrated and exhausted we become. Many of us transform slowly into the very person we are trying so hard not to be – grumpy, short-tempered and resentful. We get bogged down all of the “shoulds” and “have tos” and just can’t find our way back to true joy.

In all of our running around and doing, we lose sight of who we really are. The unique blend of talents, likes, and quirks that make us different. And because we no longer know that woman, we can’t share what only she can offer to those we love and to the world.

Maybe that’s the worst part of trying to be all things to all people. In doing so, you lose yourself.  As a result those you love and care about never really get to know you. You spend your life as an actor rather than a person. You have moments of joy and contentment, but are always looking over your shoulder for some shortcoming or mistake to snatch it all back. But, it doesn’t have to be like that.

What if you cut yourself some slack? What if you let go of the fear that if you don’t do everything just the way someone else wants you are a failure? What if you embraced who you are – with all your quirks and ticks?

Try it out, just to see how it feels. I bet you’ll be surprised.

Be all of you, and give the world and those who love you the best thing you have to offer. (Tweet that!)