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  • Writer's pictureTrina Stutzman

Are You Ready to Rock the Boat?

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

Hi. My name is Trina Stutzman. And I am a recovering people pleaser.

I like to be liked. I like to be good. I like when there is peace, and everyone is happy. And for many years, I did whatever it took to make everyone happy- even if it came at the cost of my own.

The first time I can remember wanting to please people was in second grade when I won the class thanksgiving coloring contest. The prize was an ice cream sandwich. I didn’t like ice cream sandwiches. I was at a new school. I didn’t know or feel I had a choice about accepting this “prize”. I didn’t speak up. I desperately wanted to hide the fact that I didn’t like ice cream sandwiches. I went into the bathroom in the classroom and flushed it down the toilet. The rest of the day, in my second grade mind, I thought the toilet would clog and everyone would find out I threw away the prize. A happy moment quickly turned into a fearful one. This affected me, as I believed I had to hide my preferences, and that it wasn’t ok to say ‘no thank you.’ My belief that I should take whatever I get, sabotaged a happy moment.

It was more important to me that I was liked, than to honor what I like. I didn’t want to disappoint someone or seem ungrateful. I could have focused on being proud of myself for the accomplishment, but instead I clouded it with fear and judgement, over an ice cream sandwich.

Growing up in a small, religious community, living for others was encouraged. I taught myself to live a life that looked perfect, but was never really mine. I married a handsome man, raised 4 amazing children, and worked as a professional coach in various roles while keeping an orderly and beautiful home.

In 2000, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This news put a pause on everything in my life, and I began to think about what was really important to me, and what I wanted my life to look like. I realized that I had not been living my own life.

This realization stuck with me and festered over the years. In 2006, I made the decision to leave my marriage. As a pastor’s wife, this news was hardly within the image I had worked so hard to maintain. It unraveled people’s opinions of me as "perfect" and having it all together, but it also unraveled my need for them to see me that way. My brokenness led to the breakthrough that I could not only live life on my own terms, but I could love it.

I’ve learned a lot in my unraveling. It felt ominous at first- like I was suddenly on my own. But what I’ve realized is that the more I become myself, the less alone I become. What I perceived as a happy, full life, was never actually mine. I’ve also realized that when I started speaking up and telling people how I was feeling, I found that I was not alone. The world is lousy with people pleasers. Imagine if we could all just be ourselves.

After coaching for over 20 years, I wanted to share my story. It’s a story I hear over and over from other women who are on a transformational journey. I’m so excited to share that my first book, '12 Steps to Overcome People Pleasing’ is coming out in 2022. I’m sharing 12 steps that have helped me work through some of my most deeply embedded people pleasing habits, as well as some flashbacks from my life to share a few laughs, tears, and perspectives. I will also be launching coaching groups for others who want to overcome people pleasing.

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