“Everyone loves a people pleaser!”
Well everyone…except for themselves.
No-one is actually born a people-pleaser.
It’s an issue that comes from poor self-esteem, a deep fear of rejection (and failure), and is usually in response to someone’s childhood environment (An environment where life is unpredictable and/or love and support are conditional.)
People-pleasers believe that if they can just keep the peace, be everything other people want, and smooth over any conflict that they will be loved and feel accepted.
But that’s not what happens…because those are impossible goals.
So what does happen?
Let’s take a look at what a relationship is like for a people-pleaser;
Always being considerate and kind means you are constantly worried about the thoughts and feelings of everyone around you. You fear that you will be rejected and shamed if you fail to live up to their expectations…so you become a chameleon and constantly adapt to what everyone else wants.
You continue to do this until eventually you lose yourself. Until you wish that someone…anyone…would like you for who you really are. But the problem is that you’ve been ignoring yourself for so long…you aren’t even sure if YOU even know who you really are anymore.
No is something you will NEVER say because you are constantly afraid of being seen as mean, unhelpful, incompetent, or even worse…selfish.
But when you never say no, people ask for more help, with more things…more often.
At first this is amazing. You can’t get enough of their positive feedback and approval, they couldn’t do this without you, you are SO helpful! But the more they ask, the more burnt-out and overwhelmed you become. Over time you feel taken advantage of and you want to be around them less and less.
You feel that you MUST take care of your partners every want and need in order to feel worthy of their love (because you believe love is conditional) and you want them to feel as though they can’t possibly survive without you. In order to do this though you have to put your own needs on at the end of the seemingly endless to-do list.
Chronic fatigue and overwhelming stress are your constant companions; depression comes next with unhealthy coping behaviors usually following close behind. You feel angry and resentful because you always give more than you allow yourself to get in relationships, but you lack self-esteem and look to others for approval so you can’t risk showing outward anger for fear of rejection.
Suppressing all of those negative feelings makes you emotionally distant and detached from the relationship, which is then matched by your partner. This eventually leads to the breakdown and sometimes even the end of the relationship.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can change it.
So how do you stop people pleasing? How do you break the cycle?
The answer is simple. Not easy, but simple.
If you’ve ever taken a flight you have heard the safety demonstration that happens in every airplane before take off. One of the things you are told is that; “in the event of a sudden change in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the panel above you.”
We are also advised to secure our OWN mask before assisting anyone who needs help, no matter who they are.
After all…what good is an intention to help if you pass out from lack of oxygen before you were able to?
The same concept applies to people-pleasers.
Wanting to make other people happy is not wrong. Compassion and kindness are so important when it comes to building healthy, strong relationships. But you can’t truly make anyone happy if you lose yourself in the process.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by a people-pleasing cycle in your life here are 3 beginning steps you can take to start breaking the cycle;
1. Acknowledge your self sabotage
Blaming others is simple. Owning up to your part in what went wrong is incredibly hard but you can’t change what you can’t see. Admit that you are so scared of rejection, you reject everyone around you with emotional distance…not trusting them to see your true self.
Only when you see that your problems are rooted in your own rules, beliefs and behaviors can you start making real changes.
2. Learn your needs
When you meet your needs, you build up a strength and energy within yourself. This is the energy you get to use to invest into relationships and helping others. There’s a really good chance you’ve spent so much time ignoring your needs, you don’t even know what they are, but that’s okay. Start with the basics. Are you taking care of your mental and emotional health by getting regular sleep every night and spending time alone every day to de-stress and focus your thoughts? Are you taking care of your physical health by eating healthy foods and exercising?
If the answer is no, start by making them a priority in your life. Today.
3. Alone time
Are these beliefs, and behaviors going to change overnight? Of course not. But it happens by setting small achievable goals in regards to making time for yourself. Starting today I want you to schedule 10-20 minutes of time alone every day. Use that time for anything you want. You can go for a walk, write in a journal, sit quietly and meditate, the activity doesn’t matter so long as you use it to focus on what YOU want and your passions.
If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up; just make time for yourself the next day.
I’m not going to lie, making these changes is not going to feel comfortable or easy. It is a simple process, but meaningful change takes continual work and practice and it will often push you outside of your comfort zone. That’s why it’s important you seek support for your efforts.
If you’re struggling with a people pleasing cycle and feeling overwhelmed you can find me here!
Remember the first step is always the hardest, but it’s also the most important. I believe in you!
You can have the relationship of your dreams, let me help you.