The Totally Selfish Way to People-Please That Doesn’t Poison You…or put the other person out.
People-pleasing is another of those qualities almost everyone is trying to lose, am I right?
And one thing we can say without needing much proof is that people-pleasing poisons us.
It poisons us because when we are operating from a place of needing to please others we get caught, more often than not, between two emotional states: guilt and resentment.
We feel guilty when we say no and we feel resentment when people start relying on us to do everything because they know we won’t say no.
THE MANY NUANCES OF PEOPLE-PLEASING
There are many ways in which we choose to please others:
- To keep the peace when we sense others are tense
- To not feel the discomfort of disappointing others or of hurting their feelings
- To feel like we are a ‘hard worker’ or a ‘nice person’ or a ‘good Samaritan’
- To feel like people feel they can depend on us; that we’re loyal and dedicated
Often in the workplace we become the one who everyone goes to because they know you never say no, so you end up with all the jobs no-one wants to do (cue: resentment).
Or as a practitioner or coach we hold back truths (especially if we are working intuititvely) that may seem harsh to the client because we don’t want to offend them or have them upset with us…or we don’t want to inflict hurt on them (when actually, we LIBERATE them from showing them where they are running from their problems, or avoiding their shame, or perpetuating habits that keep them stuck).
WHERE PEOPLE PLEASING COMES FROM
So, why do we feel the need to please others? Because we’ve been trained to. Period.
There are a couple of factors:
- Our mother (or our most influential role model) was a people-pleaser, so we picked that up organically by watching their behaviour.
- Our mother (or our most influential role model) and other people of influence praised us when we did things that pleased them and were displeased with us when we did things that they didn’t like.
- Society insists that we put others first and be self-less, often at the expense of our time, our energy, our money.
When we were little, we had a natural tendency to do things that made us feel good (that pleased us), but we were told by others that if we did something to please ourselves and they were not pleased, we had to stop what we were doing (stop honouring our own desires) and do what made them feel good.
Then they looked at us and praised us and rewarded us.
And of course, no-one likes to be admonished or made to feel unloved or unapproved of because that feels really bad, so we very quickly learned to adapt our behaviour to please others.
The anomaly here is that when we are doing what pleases us we feel so good.
We are more in alignment with who we truly are, which means we are in a stronger place to hold space for others to feel good and to show them the power of doing what lights you up.
So what we want to be doing is UPLIFTING others instead of pleasing them.
You are at your most powerful when you are in alignment with who you truly are, and your intuition and Higher Guidance (your knowing) is flowing through you, than when you are trying to please them from a place of feeling worried about what they’ll think, or feeling nervous that they won’t like you or that they’ll be displeased with you.
Try these exercises to stop pleasing others:
1. KNOW THAT EVERYONE HAS THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE HOW THEY FEEL
It’s not your job to make others feel better. It’s your job to be the example of someone who chooses to feel good by doing what pleases them so that they can uplift others from their True Power Place; not from a place of disempowerment.
2. CREATE SOME AFFIRMATIONS THAT WILL SOLIDIFY THE NEW WAY YOU’RE APPROACHING THINGS
‘When I put myself first I am honouring who I am and empowering others through my powerful example.’
‘When I am in alignment with who I truly am, I am connected to my KNOWING and can help people so much more from that powerful place.’
‘I understand the difference between pleasing others at the expense of my alignment, and uplifting others because I know they are truly powerful beings too.’
3. TACKLE THINGS ONE STEP AT A TIME
You don’t have to jump into the deep end and start saying NO everywhere and pissing people off. If you have a fear of people being upset with you saying NO then it’s likely that will manifest if you haven’t done some incremental work to clean it up.
Start small and pick one person, perhaps, who you’re going to practice saying NO to, or setting the tone that you will not be doing everything that everyone asks. You will soon notice that things are shifting nicely.
Changing or redirecting your people-pleasing is a matter of practicing a new way of seeing things and changing the old, practiced thoughts we have on auto-pilot.
By retraining ourselves we create new neural pathways in our brain, which means the new behaviours become as normal as the old ones were.
Image by Sydney Sims for Unsplash.