Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker

Score Keeping & People Pleasing: How Keeping Score Could Both Help & Hurt a Relationship

August 17, 2023 MaryAnn Walker Episode 54
Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker
Score Keeping & People Pleasing: How Keeping Score Could Both Help & Hurt a Relationship
Show Notes Transcript

Score keeping is common among people pleasers. And often times score keeping is used in order to manipulate or coerce others into filling your needs. ("I helped you, now you owe me!")

But score keeping isn't always a bad thing. Score keeping can also be used to bring clarity to a help you to see where there is an imbalance  so you can consciously choose how to navigate it on purpose.

This week MaryAnn talks about how to shift from manipulative and coercive scorekeeping into something more supportive: Using it as simply a means of gaining information and seeing things.... including yourself... more clearly. 

Do you often find yourself in imbalanced relationships and you aren't sure how to restore balance?  Come and work with me!  You can contact me either via my website or email me at 

I would also love to hear your feedback on this podcast!  What episode has been most influential for you?  What would you like to learn more about?  Click here to leave me your review!

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Well, hello, and welcome back. My name is Marianne Walker. And just as a reminder, you can now also find me on YouTube. So if you're a visual person, Or if you find yourself thinking thoughts like, huh, I wonder what Marianne's curls are doing in today's climate, then come on over to YouTube and find me. I would love to connect. So today we are diving headfirst into a topic that many of us actually really resist seeing. in ourselves. And this is the idea of people pleasing and scorekeeping. So first, let's start by understanding what a people pleaser is. So we all know that one person who just can't say no, right? They're that person that's always willing to lend a hand and willing to bend over backward to make other people happy. This is the person that everybody seems to call when they're in trouble or they're in need of some kind of assistance because they know this person is eager to jump up. and jump in and help out and save the day at a moment's notice. And the odds are that if you're listening to this podcast, this person is probably you. So don't get me wrong. This really can be an awesome superpower. And it feels amazing to have the means to make somebody's day a little bit better and to make their journey a little bit easier. And seeing the impact that we can have on one person's life, it truly can be its own reward. And also, since people pleasers oftentimes have a deep seated need for validation and approval from others, sometimes then this giving and serving, it isn't as altruistic as it may appear on the surface, but rather sometimes these acts of service, they're self serving. And oftentimes, the person doing the service, they might not even realize they're doing something in order to get gain until they find themselves scorekeeping, right? Where they're thinking, Oh my gosh, I'm doing this for other people. Why isn't it coming back to me? And while scorekeeping can be a bad thing, it isn't always a bad thing. So let me explain. So scorekeeping is unsupportive when it is being used for manipulation. So for example, maybe you volunteered to watch your friend's kids while she went to an appointment or went out for date night and You're totally fine with it, right? But then you might recognize that you're giving in order to get gain. If you find yourself thinking thoughts like, well, I watched your kids. You own me. Like you have to say yes now, or maybe you always agree to go out to eat wherever your partner wants to eat. Or you always agree to watch the shows that your partner wants to watch. And you might be scorekeeping and manipulating if you find yourself thinking or even saying out loud, but we always watch what you want. We always eat what you want. It's my turn. So anytime you find yourself saying yes to somebody and then later feeling like they owe you one. Tune into your body and see what's coming up for you. Thinking thoughts like the ones that I just described could be a sign that you are manipulating others in an effort to have your own needs met. So imagine having a friend that you are just always on the same page with. You are so in sync. You feel so seen and heard and understood in that relationship. It is just the best. And anytime you need anything, they are there. And they love to spend their time doing all the things that you love to do. They just. seem like they're basically you, right? Like it's just so much fun to hang out with them. But then you might discover later on that they weren't actually doing all of those things because they liked them. They were doing them to make you happy, so then you would start to do the things that they actually wanted to do, right? And this can leave you feeling pretty blindsided. It's confusing and disorienting because they were showing up and behaving in one way And now they're telling you that they didn't want any of that, that they really wanted something else. And it can feel kind of muddy, and disorienting, and confusing when you're in a relationship with somebody like that. This is what it looks like when scorekeeping is being used as a manipulative tool. You thought that they liked to do all of these things that you like to do, but now you can see that they were using their kindness to get what they wanted from you. And that doesn't feel very good. Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments. And it's unkind. We, the people pleasers, like to think that we're being very altruistic, right? We're generous, we're thoughtful, we're courteous, kind, and we are all of those things. And also, the shadow side of this is that sometimes people pleasers can be subtly manipulative in order to get their needs met. So they might use guilt, passive aggression, or even flattery to maintain their image as being helpful and selfless, while also quietly steering situations to their advantage. And they might not even consciously recognize what they're doing at the time. It's essential to recognize the patterns and the red flags that might indicate when genuine kindness has now transformed into manipulation. And if you're recognizing that you sometimes do this, keep listening because really there's an easy fix for this. And the solution is learning to use scorekeeping as a way of gaining information rather than using it as a form of manipulation. So what might happen? If instead scorekeeping was just information, if it was just as simple as turning on the TV and seeing what the score was, what if we used it as a sign to get curious about ourselves? And turn inward sometimes when we love and we serve and we give, we are doing it to get gain and it can appear manipulative and that can be confusing for the other person. Other times though, it really is because in that moment we're not necessarily seeking to serve, but what we're really seeking is some way to create balanced reciprocation in relationship. That's what we really want is for something to come back in. We just need to figure out a way to do it in a clean way. minimizing resentment for both parties so that they're actually choosing into the relationship rather than feeling manipulated into relationship. So asking yourself what it is that you're truly seeking in that moment can really help to reveal your motives as well as help you to gain more clarity around how it is that you want to show up in a relationship. I know that for me, I have been in relationships where initially I was showing up through this core value of service, right? I'm like, yeah, of course I can do that. No, no, no. You don't have to pay me back. No problem at all. But over time, when I did start scorekeeping, I recognized how much was going out versus how much was coming in, and I could see that that was going to be out of balance and unsustainable for me. I was feeling drained. I was feeling taken for granted. I was feeling frustrated and resentful. And once I realized this, I was able to recognize something that I've come to value even more than selfless service. Yes, I still do value service, and I do like to do things with no expectation for return. But I have realized that something that I also value is creating more sustainable relationships with this balanced reciprocation. And it took me some time, and it took me some coaching, but ultimately I was able to get to a place where now I can create that balanced reciprocation free of resentment, and more from a place of peace. So I made changes in an effort to maintain a relationship that I really wanted. Right? I knew that for me that if things continued as they were, this relationship would end. And because this relationship was something that I valued and I wanted it to continue, I knew that I needed to make it more sustainable for me, even if that meant experiencing a little bit of discomfort as I made requests to have my needs met. And this also meant sometimes saying no. It's really easy. to continue to say yes and make the other person happy, right? But when you recognize that, okay, I'm feeling depleted, I need something coming back in, check in with yourself and ask, why am I saying yes? What is this creating for me and how do I really feel on the inside? I recognized that I couldn't continue to give from a place of love, which is what I really wanted to do without having something coming back in to fill my own cup. It is 100% okay to do what it is that you need to do in order to sustain you. This is not selfish. It's just like putting on your own oxygen mask first so that you can better love and support those around you and help them out in case of emergency. It is the same idea. You will both be happier if you can sustain yourself in order to create that balanced reciprocation in a relationship rather than manipulation and resentment. So let's imagine for a little moment that your relationship is like a tennis match. So you show up and you have a whole bucket of balls and you send a ball over the net. And in a balanced relationship, the ball is going to go in both directions. You're sending balls over, and they're sending balls over, and sure, like every now and then, somebody will drop a ball. It's not going to be exactly matched, but there is going to be that flow of balls going back and forth over the net, and it is that balanced reciprocation that makes the game more fun, and it creates something that's more sustainable for both parties, where both parties are feeling invested in. So now imagine for a moment that you're showing up for this tennis match, and again, you have a full bucket of balls, but this time, when you send a ball over, it doesn't come back. And you send the ball over, and then the other person just says, thank you, and then they put it in their bucket. And you think, okay, that was interesting. And then you send over another ball, and the same thing. They just say, thank you, and they put it in their bucket. And they're saying thank you so nicely, and you think, oh, like, this is interesting. You might even be a little bit confused because they're expressing gratitude, but you're not experiencing something else coming back in to fill your cup. And so you send over another one and another one. Again, they say thank you, but then you're realizing like, okay, now I've hit the point where now my bucket is completely empty. And their bucket appears to be overflowing, so all of your balls have now gone over the net, and now you literally have nothing left to give. You want to keep playing, but you can't keep playing with an empty bucket. So, this feeling of wanting to continue to play and wanting to engage and wanting to be in a relationship, but feeling like you literally have nothing left to give, this is what it's like when you're experiencing the burnout and the compassion fatigue. And once somebody has reached the point of compassion fatigue and burnout, it is super easy to slip into anger, resentment. frustration, and manipulation. And now here's the part that's a little bit of a hard pill to swallow. Are you ready? You were the one that sent all of the balls over the net. You were the one that sent over every last ball that you had, so that you had nothing left. So in short, you were the one that created the slack. And yes, it is fine and it's good to hope for reciprocation in a relationship. And also, each player is ultimately free to do whatever it is that they want to do. Even if it's not fun or fair for the other players. And you get to pick who you want to engage with. And this is where scorekeeping can actually provide some very valuable information. I mean, let's be real. You wouldn't want to play tennis with a partner like that. And yet sometimes we remain in relationship with people that do basically the same thing. And we stay in relationship hoping that they will change. Hoping that they will send a ball back. Hoping that there will be some reciprocation and that the game can be fun again. But when this doesn't happen, what can we do about it? Okay, so let's play with this tennis analogy a little while longer. So when you find yourself with an empty bucket, It's easy to feel helpless, but you do have options. You actually have countless options, so I'm only going to name a few. So you could play the victim card. You could yell and scream and throw a tantrum and tell the other person, hey, it's not fair. You are not playing fair. You are a ball hog. Look how many balls I sent over and look, your bucket is overflowing and mine is completely empty and you didn't send any balls back and it's all your fault that I can't play anymore. Like, that is one option. That's something that you could do. Another option is, you could choose to go to the store and buy more balls. Right? To find another source for the balls. If they're not going to send any back, it's okay, I'll go to the store and get some. Or, okay, I'll go play a game with this person and see if I can get some more balls. You could find another way to have your bucket filled, so that then, when you do want to play with them again, you have something to go back over. But again, even with this, you might recognize that, okay, but now I know that they're not going to send them back over, and you can choose to act accordingly. You could also choose to just call it quits and walk away. Right? You could decide to just no longer play with them. And then after you call it quits, You might decide to just go and play by yourself. Maybe you're playing against a wall so that you know all of the balls are going to come back. Or maybe you choose to go and find somebody else where it's a bit more of a balanced game with that reciprocation there. And another option might be that you actually make a request. They toss the ball back over the net. And ideally you do this before your bucket is completely empty. So you might see something like, Hey, I'm running low over here. Like, could you please send a few balls back over? And maybe they will honor your request. And maybe they won't. But asking will give you a lot more information so that you can know how you want to engage moving forward. Oftentimes we feel trapped, especially when we can't control the other person's behaviors. But the truth is there really truly are countless ways that we could choose to respond. So whatever it is that you choose to do, just make sure that you're choosing it consciously. And as I've already said, but this is very important and we're saying again, if you're able to have these conversations before you're on empty, you're significantly more likely to act rather than react emotionally when we're running on empty. Emotions are very high and it can be a lot harder to have those conversations because we have nothing in our reserves. So be aware of that. Choose to act rather than react and do so before you hit empty. Thank you. For me, I have learned that I am happiest when I am proactive about creating what it is that I want. And often times this looks like making a request. And then just truly believing their answer, not believing like the, oh, well, they really meant this, or, oh, well, they might change their answer, but really believing what it is that they have to offer in that moment and what they tell me that they have to offer. So in the past when I have asked for reciprocation, sometimes I hear, oh, yes, of course, like, you've got it. You were important to me and I really want to create balance and I want you to feel valued and appreciate it. You bet. I'm absolutely going to invest in this relationship. And other times when I've made a request for reciprocation, I've essentially heard, no thanks. I don't want to. Like, this relationship, it's working for me, and I don't want anything to change, so, nah. I don't think I'll fulfill your request, but feel free to keep showing up for me. This game is totally working for me. And still other times, then it's been maybe somewhere in the middle. So maybe instead the reply might be, oh, you know what? I would love to. I can't right now, but I will be back and, and I will reciprocate at that time. So regardless of the reply, making an explicit request of the other person, especially before the burnout has set in, it can bring a lot of clarity for both of you when it comes to what the current circumstances are and what you. both want to create on purpose, right? How can they know if it's working for you or not unless you say something? Cause other ways they might think that you're that friend that just loves everything that they love. They might not even know what your needs are. So just be aware of that. Listen to and accept their answer. Don't fight it. Don't try to manipulate it and to be something different. Don't hope that they will change or tell them that they owe you. Like just accept whatever it is that they have to offer and then choose to act. Accordingly, our tendency as humans is to keep investing until we get what it is that we want, until we get our needs met. We think that because we have invested so much, that if we just hold on a little bit longer, then maybe we'll get a return on our investment. So, this is often times why people remain in a relationship, and this might be romantic or otherwise, but they assume that since they've already invested 5, 10, 20 years into this relationship that they should be expecting a return any moment now. right? But sometimes it's just time to cut your losses and choose to invest elsewhere. And I get it that it sounds super simple when it isn't, and maybe that's going to be a whole episode in the future in and of itself. But for today, I just want you to notice where you are scorekeeping. And notice what is coming up for you. Use it as information. It is not a bad thing to scorekeep. Scorekeeping can let us know what our needs are. It can let us know what needs are being met, what needs are not being met, and it can just help us to better understand ourselves and the relationship. So notice where you might be scorekeeping and choose how you want to navigate the imbalance on purpose and before the burnout sets in. It does take practice, but it can be done. And hey, if you find yourself perpetually in imbalanced relationships and you aren't sure what to do, please come and work with me. I am taking clients again in September now that we're getting settled into our new home, and I would love to work with you. So I am currently offering six week packages, and your invoice will not be sent out until after the first session. So that means we can have a whole session together, a whole hour together, where we can kind of workshop things and see what's coming up for you, and I can let you know. what that would look like for you moving forward. And then if we're a good foot for each other, awesome. I will send you an invoice and we will finish up our five other sessions. If we're not a good fit, that's a hundred percent. Okay, too. So that means that there is literally no risk for you. So if you are interested in working with me, send me an email at Marianne at Marianne Walker dot life. Or you can also visit my website, MarianneWalker. life, but shoot me an email, come and join my wait list, whatever it is you need to do, but come and work with me. I would really love to work with you. And this offer is only good until my client list is filled. So come and book with me now, if you're interested. And Hey, if you like what you were hearing here, I would love it. If you would leave me a review, you can either leave me a review on whatever platform it is that you're listening from, or you can click the link in the show notes and. Yeah, and share your feedback there. I would love to know what you have found most supportive and what you would like to explore in future episodes. So let's connect. I'd love to hear from you. All right. Well, I hope you have a great week and let's talk soon. Bye now. Love ya.