Are you a people pleaser?
- Do you say yes when you mean no?
- Do you go along with a group to avoid conflict?
- Do you feel responsible for how other people feel?
- Do you apologize often?
- When someone is upset with you, do you try to “make it right” even if that means that you go against your values?
- Do you tell people when you’re disappointed in them or their actions?
- Do you stick up for yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged?
The above behaviors are harmful for us and for those we’re in relationship with. Our relationships are dis-connected and we feel flatlined in life. Why? Because when we’re people pleasing, we’re lying to everyone, including ourselves. Sure, it isn’t a malicious lie as it stems from a lack of self esteem but it doesn’t serve anyone. People pleasers would rather lie than tell the truth about their honest feelings, even something as banal as telling someone where they want to go for lunch. So then, the relationships you form are not ones based on truth or authenticity. Your friends don’t know the real you. This leaves you feeling as if no one understands you or that no one “gets” the real you. Hard truth? They don’t. But this isn’t a fault of theirs. How could they? You aren’t showing them the real you.
What kind of message are you sending to yourself if you’re constantly lying to yourself and to others? You are telling yourself that your opinion doesn’t matter. You are telling yourself that the other person’s needs come before yours. You are telling yourself that you don’t matter as much as others. Your happiness, your interests, your desires aren’t important enough to share with those close to you. People pleasing behavior is toxic and is usually rooted in a series of deep beliefs that have been reinforced your whole life. A belief that we need other’s love to fit in. A belief that what others think of us is truth. A belief that we are lovable if others tell us we are. It comes from us looking externally for approval instead of internally. People pleasing behaviors run deep in our blood. Entire books have been written on the subject and I will not begin to I will not be addressing them all in this blog – but I do want to give you tools to begin to live a life YOU want to live, not one someone else thinks you should. Three simple but not easy steps:
1) Awareness Log: Begin to be aware of when you are acting in a way to make someone else think a certain thing about you or when you are doing something to gain someone else approval. Pretend to keep a log in your head of when you did or said things to please other people before yourself. For example, “I said yes to Kara when she asked if I could make the cupcakes even though I didn’t want to” or “I told Susie I’d go to breakfast with her Saturday even though I’d rather hang in my PJs with my kids”. Awareness is the first step to changing behavior. Click To Tweet Pay attention to when you say “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.” This is all about allowing yourself to care; Allowing yourself to share you opinions and thoughts; Allowing yourself to be you. For now, just start noticing these things. You don’t need to change your actions. Start by noticing when, where, and with who you choose to put others needs before your own.
2) Start small: Practice speaking up in minor ways. When you’re with your BFF and she asks where you want to go for lunch, actually tell her (gasp!). When you read about a new local place you’d like to visit, tell your spouse and put it on the calendar. And yes, that nervous feeling in your stomach just thinking about doing these things? That’s a sign you’re on the right path! Yay you! I know it isn’t a comfortable feelings but you’re strengthening that “I Matter” Muscle (because you do!!). When we work out a new muscle at the gym we will experience discomfort. That doesn’t mean something’s gone wrong. Rather, it means that we’re getting stronger and that’s exactly what happens internally when you begin to change old behaviors. So start small but start. Speak up. What do you want for dinner? What do you want to do in the morning?
3) Mirror Work: Yep, it’s exactly as it sounds. Go stand in front of a mirror and practice sticking up for yourself. Again, expect this to feel uncomfortable but know that’s all the more reason to do it. Expect your brain to tell you it’s dumb and you don’t need to practice (and that you certainly don’t need to practice in front of a mirror!). Choose to disagree with that brain. Your brain likes to be comfortable and do what it’s always done. If you want life to be different, you have to be different in your life. Mirror work will make you more comfortable when you are doing this in person so try it. Practice saying no in front of the mirror. Practice speaking up for yourself in front of the mirror. Here are some things you can practice saying:
Thanks for thinking of me but I have to say no.
I have to pass on this one.
Actually, I’d rather go to_____for lunch.
No, that’s a family night for me.
That won’t work for me.
I’ll get back to you.
I’d rather not.
That makes me uncomfortable.
I would rather….
When learning how to better say no, keep it brief, avoid apologies, and be truthful (do not lie). Learn
There you have it, three ways to get started today. Let’s go Warriors. Spend your energy being yourself instead of being the self others want you to be. When you are showing up as your true self, not only do you benefit (your mental and physical health) but the the people around you also benefit. The better you care for yourself, the better you show up in this world Click To Tweet. This is what loving your life is all about. Living your life on your terms. Your dreams, your desires, and your needs are given to you as signs of how you’re supposed to show up in this world. If we’re constantly ignoring our desires, we’re constantly giving the universe a middle finger. It’s like I’m saying, yeah, I know that was your plan for me but I’m going to twist myself into this fake version of myself to make others happy. Seriously? If you’re ready to start the journey, take one small step this week. I’m here by your side. Let’s go!
Want to learn more? Here’s another article on people pleasing: