Are you a people pleaser? Go with the first answer that comes to mind (I always trust that initial ‘hit’ you get).
If the answer was yes or probably, then read on. Because in my experience it is one of the most common ways that our ‘not good enough’ feeling shows up.
What is people pleasing?
Putting another person’s needs or wants before your own in order to be liked, accepted or avoid conflict.
It can happen for a whole bunch of reasons, but most of us we were never shown how to
- identify what we need or want
- be ok with our needs and wants
- ask for what we need or want
It’s just one way that we betray ourselves. And it can lead to some really uncomfortable feelings – resentment, misplaced anger, tiredness, frustration, overwork and people not respecting us.
The Paradox of People Pleasing
The latter is quite ironic as people pleasers often want to be liked and accepted at all costs. Even the cost of their physical and emotional well being. However, those around them actually end up respecting them less, not more.
Why? It’s all about boundary setting. If my boundaries are as soft as ice on a hot day, then other people know I’ll never be a ‘problem’. I’ll always say yes, go along with what other people want and be ultra agreeable in all areas.
Who doesn’t want to be around someone like that?! Yes, for a period of time.
But people pleasers usually end up losing the respect of those around them.
When we’re not able to take care of our own needs, others will either walk over them or try and protect us.
And there is nothing empowering and respectful about either.
But get this – you could argue that people pleasing is a way to control those around us. Say what?! How is it controlling?
Well, people pleasers often don’t feel safe. Somewhere deep down is a feeling that they are not good enough and must earn the right to be liked and accepted.
So how do you control this lack of feeling safe? You become a ‘yes’ person and super hard working. You take on more than your fair share. You give. A lot.
Help! I don’t want to be a people pleaser anymore.
If you already know that the cost of being a people pleaser far out-weighs the benefits, you’re on the right track. But what to do about it?
Here’s one simple technique I teach many of my clients. When someone asks you to do something and before you say yes, take a breath. Then simply say ‘can I get back to you tomorrow about this?’
This is a powerful technique as it gives time and space to find out
- What do I want? Answering this question alone can be challenging…we need to build the muscle of trusting ourselves to know what we want.
- Can I give myself permission to want what I want? This is the next step in allowing your needs to matter.
- How will I confidently express what I want? Empowered, respectful communication is another unused muscle that can take time to build, but is worth the effort.
Give it a try and if you need more help consider working with a coach, therapist or healer.
People pleasing is usually a long-term habit based on old stories and working with a supportive professional is an effective way to create new stories and habits to bring joy and balance back into your life.
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