After surviving a rare coronary artery dissection and massive heart attack while nine months pregnant, Nefertari has devoted her life to uplifting other heart patients and promoting heart health awareness.See all posts »
Heart Disease and People Pleasers
Most people wouldn't think that a thin, athletic, energetic 34-year-old mother of five would have any risk factors for heart disease. And I didn't. At least, not the usual ones, but looking back, I believe that certain behaviors may have put me at risk. Specifically, I was a people pleaser.
I walked through life like everything was just peachy. I made every negative situation seem positive and I hardly ever complained. I was quick to volunteer at any given time. I had to be liked by everyone, and my desire to please others took precedence. Being anything other than popular was not an option. I was always overly courteous, friendly, and easy to get along with.
While these are all pleasant, positive characteristics, the down side to my particular brand of people pleasing was that I didn't take the time I needed for myself. I was too busy making sure everyone else's needs were met. I needed people to be happy with me. If they weren't, I felt rejected. I did not see my own worth, only the value in others. I lost my own identity trying to accommodate others all of the time. It was exhausting and stressful.
But my heart attack turned all of that around! I'm saying all of this for the purposes of prevention. A heart attack is not a fun experience, and neither is living an unhappy, unfulfilled life.
My goal with these articles is to hopefully reach not only heart attack survivors but also those at risk, and I believe that I put myself at risk by not making my own needs a priority. One of my latest blogs was all about stress and its connection to heart attack. Well, not taking care of your own needs can lead to a lot of unchecked and unmanaged stress.
So even if being a "people pleaser" is not an official risk factor for heart disease, it's still not the way I want to spend my life. And as a heart patient, taking my own needs into account is necessary to maintain my health. I'm not saying that being selfish is the answer, but personally, I work to find a balance between helping others and taking care of myself -- and more importantly, I remind myself that that's okay.
I realize now that I can't please all of the people all of the time (not even most of the time), nor do I try. I now know that it's all right to give MYSELF a pat on the back if I achieve a goal, rather then wait for the approval of others. I have a right to my own, honest opinion, and it may not always be the popular opinion. I have accepted myself for who I am.
My personality hasn't changed. I am still my jolly self, and I still find joy in making others happy. However, since surviving the heart attack I have a better understanding of who I am and what it takes to make my life feel complete. Being among those that accept me just the way I am is a relief, and in my opinion, a necessary factor in fighting heart disease.
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