I am a hardcore people pleaser. What does that look like? Well, here are a few examples. When I shop, I want the staff in the store to think that I am the Nicest Shopper. When I fly, I want the flight attendants to think I am the Most Easygoing Passenger and my seatmates to think I am the Most Accommodating Stranger. And when I go to doctors, I want them to think I am the Funniest Anxious Patient EVER. Sometimes, I am too nice, too deferential, too accommodating, and too dismissive of my own feelings (physical and mental).
This morning, I had a dental appointment for my six month exam and cleaning. I hate going to the dentist and it makes me incredibly anxious. I don't know if it's because I am still traumatized from having two cavities filled without anesthesia when I was a kid or from the ongoing saga involving one of my front teeth that died after Miguel (age 2) accidentally head butted me in the mouth. Whatever the reason (or for no reason at all), going to the dentist stresses me out. Despite my anxiety, I go religiously.
All last night, I thought about cancelling the appointment (I knew that I wouldn't). And this morning, I thought about cancelling the appointment (It was too late). Then, I started thinking about the gum poking exam that I was due for - the annual measuring of gum depths. I hate that test so much because it's like taking an college level test you can't prepare for and, therefore, can't control the outcome.
While I was getting ready to go, a thought popped into my head: I could refuse the poking exam. Adults have the right to refuse care. My gums have been stable for years - I could exercise my right. So, I drove to the dentist's office ruminating on that idea but knowing I would let them do the test anyway because I wouldn't want to make waves.
They called me back and the dental hygienist asked all the usual questions and then I said, "Is this the appointment when I have the pokey exam thing?" Yes, those were my exact words. She said, "Yes." I took a breath and said, "I'd like to decline that exam this time." She looked at my chart and said, "Well, based on history, I think that's fine." I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and said, "Great. This is a gift I'm giving myself for the holidays." My anxiety immediately dropped to a tolerable level and the rest of the appointment was uneventful.
Perhaps one of the gifts of getting older is coming to understand that I can take control of my life. This tendency I have to please and put everyone else's agenda before my own does not always serve me well. Today was a small victory. Ya see ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.