Advice from a Survivor Of Domestic Abuse (SODA™)

The other day someone I work with said, “Susan, you’re just too nice. You’re so nice to everyone and sometimes you just can’t be that nice.” I was just about to thank her for the advice and then stopped. That would be pretty nice of me right? I wasn’t going to continue making her point for her.

I thought about this later in the day. As an inherently-driven people-pleaser, I am wired to be nice. I was born that way. Really, there is no undoing this fact about me. And if you’re like me, and so many of us are, then you know exactly what I mean. We put other people’s needs, feelings, wants and desires before our own. And we do this at our own expense 100% of the time. And we do this to our own detriment 100% of the time too. Why?

Now on the other side of domestic abuse, I work hard to try and understand when and why other people became more important than me. Do you ever think about this? Why are they more important than you? I can tell you from experience that this only leads to serious problems down the road as we diminish ourselves and forget that we once had a voice, we once had an opinion, we once were a person who mattered. It’s a slippery slope and it only takes a few little steps at the top to lose your footing. I was there and I did it and I know.

What do we do about this? I think I’m starting to figure it out. It dawned on me the other day while I was using a dating app. As a free and single woman now, I get to make my own choices. Life on the other side of abuse is exciting in this way; everything is new again and life is yours for the taking. And dating, especially dating, is fully in your own hands – literally in your own hands when you’re using an app on your phone.

Reading a profile, looking at photos, making considerations, and then swiping left for no or right for yes becomes something that you get to do on your own. It’s your choice. And I have found those choices to be incredibly easy to make. I know exactly what I am looking for. I don’t know these men and they do not know me, so I’m not worrying about hurting any feelings. I just swipe left or right and move on.

I think this is an incredible lesson we can grab onto in our daily lives. Rather than looking at people and their feelings and worrying about theirs versus ours, what would happen if we looked at situations and circumstances and then made decisions about what was best for us? Would that change everything for all of us people-pleasers?

Rather than worrying about declining a lunch invitation, or a date, or a request to volunteer again for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, what if we actually looked at what was being asked of us, how we felt about participating, our availability at that time, and if saying yes or no was a good decision for us? What if after those considerations we could see that saying no was the right decision and we declined based on a reason and not a feeling? What if we learned to put logic in front of our own emotions and then learned that this was in our own best interests? What if we swiped left for no in our own minds, said no, and then moved on?

As a hard-wired people-pleaser, I can only surmise that life could get a whole lot better if we simply tried. Standing up for ourselves and taking our places in the world, well that’s never easy for the people-pleaser. But taking a step back, breaking down a situation, and coming up with a logical solution? That’s a right-swipe if ever I saw one.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at:  1-800-799-7233 or visit for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

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