People Pleasing

I am a reforming (yes, still working on it) People Pleaser. I capitalize that, because it has been such a part of who I am for so long, it feels like an old friend.

The trouble is, however, the more time I spent People Pleasing, the less I was actually pleased with my own life and myself. I was constantly out of alignment with myself in deference to someone else’s desires of me.

The tricky part:

People Pleasing feels so honorable, humble and giving to do for others. While being kind and helpful is generally a good thing, Losing yourself in order to please others can leave you feeling emotionally depleted, stressed and anxious.

Take the sample quiz to see where you may be holding yourself back. Want to learn more about any of the questions and why a “yes” could be creating a roadblock for you, read on for more clarity.

Unpacking your “yes” answer:

#1. I assure you, you have absolutely no control over what others think. You can turn yourself inside out trying to control what others think of you, and they still get to think what they want. This wasted emotional capital will be the source of a tremendous amount of discontent.

When you find yourself concerned with what others will think…stop and ask yourself, why? Why are you worried about what people will say, why do you want their approval, what will happen to you if they don’t approve? Then ask yourself, are these thoughts holding you back from what you want? Answering those questions is where you can start observing your mind.

#2. There is a distinction between doing things to be nice and doing whatever it takes to make other people happy. People Pleasers consistently put someone else’s needs above their own. You don’t need to give up being kind and thoughtful, those are desirable qualities that can contribute to strong, lasting relationships. The key is to examine your motivations and intentions.

If you give because you are afraid you will be disliked or you give to the point of martyrdom and with the expectation of people reciprocating, you are deep into people pleasing drama. Kindness doesn’t demand attention or rewards – it simply requires a desire to make things better for another person.

Before you offer to help someone, ask yourself, “will helping this person bring me joy or will I feel resentment if the favor isn’t ‘properly’ appreciated or reciprocated.” You will know whether you are people pleasing or acting out of true desire to help.

#3. I am sorry, I am so sorry….Does this sound like you? Do you apologize consistently even when you aren’t certain why or don’t feel that you were at fault? Do you excessively blame yourself?

Consider this: your friend asks for a recommendation for a restaurant for her 20th wedding anniversary dinner. You give her your favorite. She and her husband choose to go there and have a terrible meal. You apologize over and over again, beat yourself and feel responsible for the ruined meal. Sometimes, our brains offer us that if we continue to beat ourselves up (indulge in guilt), somehow that pays our penance.

What if it was just an unfortunate situation and no one is too blame. Your friend chose to use your recommendation, she chose what to order and you have no control over that or what comes out of the kitchen – time to release yourself from guilt.

#4. People Pleasers tend to pus their own needs to the side or have trouble recognizing what their needs and feelings truly are. You spend so much time being who others want you to be, that you begin to lose site of what you want or who you are. You may even justify why you shouldn’t put your feelings first.

Does this resonate…”my husband is so stressed right now, he doesn’t mean to snap at me. If I say something to him, it will only add to his stress.” You have just People Pleased you way into negating your feelings in deference to how you husband MIGHT respond. He may just surprise you with an “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be short with you,” but if you don’t honor your own feelings and bury them instead, little bits of resentment may begin to build.

#5. Let’s go back to the dinner recommendation from #3. Every time you see your friend, you apologize again and you replay where you should have suggested instead. You are ready to take on the blame, can’t let it go for what it is and are sure your friend will never trust you again. People Pleasers feel responsible for how others feel.

What if you recognize you have no power to make someone else happy. What if you accepted that you offered a restaurant and your friend, with free will, took the recommendation. DONE. No need for drama. The only drama being played out are the thoughts in your head…that somehow you are responsible for their meal being fabulous. Ask yourself – is that true or is it your drama? Were you responsible for their meal being great?

#6. People Pleaser spend most of their emotional capital filling the cups of others. This leave you depleted and often times filled with stress and anxiety. When you are turning yourself inside out making sure others have what they need to your own detriment, this will likely lead to resentment.

You cannot give of yourself if you don’t pour into yourself. When you are feeling ‘cup half empty,’ put the brakes on and ask yourself, why? What am I doing that is leaving me feeling so depleted? The answer may well be that you are not living in integrity with what YOU really want.

#7. Do you feel guilty going for the manicure or massage?  Is the girls weekend out of the question because you would feel so guilty?  It is wonderful to be a giving, caring person, however, it is also important to tend and honor our own needs.  Putting your needs first at times, isn’t selfish, it is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself so that you can recharge yourself. If you don’t take care of you, who will? If you have ever gone on a girls weekend, you may agree that you come back refreshed and recharged and a better parent and spouse for it.  

#8.  Shame, resentment and fear of failure are the hallmark of a People Pleaser.  Shame that your “tribe” will shun you or not like you.  Resentment that you do all of this for others and they don’t appreciate it and you don’t get to do what you want in deference to their needs.  Fear of failure because again, the “tribe” will send you packing for being different or stepping out from their security for being unique. 

Look at those 3 things:  shame, resentment and fear of failure… they are just emotions.  If we can learn to live with feeling those emotions instead of doing anything to avoid them, we get to step into a version of ourselves we never dreamed possible.  

#9.  People Pleasers need to feel accepted which means regardless of how they feel on the inside, the outside must be what is expected.  That internal conflict is exhausting and can quickly lead to anxiety, stress and resentment.  Write a list of who you are internally.  Compare that list to how you live your life.  Do they fall into alignment?  

#10. Not having a clear path often times is a gradual creep that happens, especially to moms.  For so long you give to your family, that it is easy to forget to give to yourself.  You lose sight of who you are apart from being a mother, a wife, a lawyer, or a volunteer.  You are going through the motions of daily life without a clear path of what you want your future to look like.  This, my friends…was me.  Soul crushing as it was, I was guilty of #1-10.  People Pleaser Extraordinaire.  

Today, I have stepped into a version of myself that I choose.  I have learned what healthy boundaries are, what putting myself first looks like, not at the detriment of others, but the betterment of us all, and I enjoy my relationships so much more.  I am not caught up in anyone writing my life story, I know just what I want my story to say and I get to be my stories hero.  

Leave a comment below with how many “yes” responses to the quiz you will work to turn into “not anymore” answers. Its 2022, the year of being YOU!

1 Comment

  1. Karen Bodnar

    This was so helpful to me.


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