Are you a People-Pleaser? Are you someone who always puts other peoples’ feelings above your own or someone who makes the pursuit of other peoples happiness your main aim in life?
You become a People-Pleaser when the balance tips and the boundaries between your own happiness and other peoples become blurred.
Helping others is great when done genuinely. People-Pleasing is different from a genuine interest in other people. At the heart of this issue is the fact when you are in people-pleasing mode, you have lost sight of what makes you truly happy, let alone anyone else.
Here are some lessons I have learnt that have helped me:
1. Be Authentic
Authenticity is the nemesis of People-Pleasing. People-Pleasing is all about getting others to behave in a certain way to make you feel better. Being authentic is being real. There is no agenda; there is just you. It isn’t hard to start noticing the difference between authenticity and People-Pleasing, Authenticity feels real and honest. You have no agenda and are transparent. People-Pleasing on the other hand feels insecure, fragile, phony and desperate. Start identifying your feelings and which mode you are in. Start choosing authenticity.
2. Listen to Your Feelings
Your feelings are a communication. They are there to tell you something. Start listening. One trap I have fallen into in the past is listening to your feelings and then justifying them away. For example, if I feel disappointed with someone else and notice that feeling, I then go on to justify the other person’s behaviour i.e. “they are going through a hard time”. It is useful to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand what is going in for them, but it is important to learn to take the time to understand what is going on for you too. You don’t have to solve the problem straight away or get rid of the feeling. Learn to really listen to your feelings without judgement.
3. Realise People-Pleasing is Not “Nice”
One of the things that made a real difference to me is realising that People-Pleasing is pretty sleazy. It robs you of your self esteem and doesn’t leave the people you are trying to please with a good experience of you. People-Pleasing is one of those behaviours that sounds “nice” but which is actually the opposite. People-Pleasing isn’t really about others and making a difference, it is all about you. For example you might say “I haven’t heard from you for a while, I have been worried about you” when what is really going on is “I am not really worried about you, I just want to make sure you still like me”. We don’t say these things, but other people pick up on them anyway.
4. Let Go of Control
People-Pleasing is controlling. To make yourself feel better you need others to be ‘pleased’ or ‘happy’ with you. Imagine what pressure that is for the other person! Take a moment to remind yourself of a time that someone has been a People-Pleaser with you and how this experience made you feel.
I have noticed that when I am in People-Pleasing mode I take other peoples moods personally. I see someone is upset and I worry that I have upset them. I search my mind for ways that I may have upset them and want to apologise or at least find a way to make them happy again, even if it is nothing to do with me! Again when I am like this, it’s all about me. trying to make others feel good so I can feel good again! Realising that other people have the right to be happy or unhappy has been a huge realisation for me. That might sound kind of obvious, but when I am in People-Pleasing mode, someone else being unhappy isn’t ok. It makes me feel bad and I want that feeling to go away as soon as possible!
Learn to accept and allow others just as they are.
5. Learn to Be OK with Upsetting People
“You can’t keep all the people happy all the time”
I am not advocating being a jerk here, but it is a fact of life is that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. What you can do is be authentic and do what you feel is right. We all upset others at times. It is inevitable. Sometimes people are jealous; sometimes they don’t like other people being happy or successful and sometimes they may be upset with you and they just don’t know why! You cannot be responsible for other people’s happiness but you sure as hell are responsible for your own.
(Note: This isn’t an excuse not to apologise if you are in the wrong. Learn to listen to your intuition and be honest. Ask yourself: “Is there something I need to take responsibility for here?”)
6. Please Yourself
Learning to please yourself is one of the most important things you can do. Looking for outside validation stifles your inner voice and makes you small.
You are not small. Whenever you feel small you don’t feel good. That is because it is not true. You are huge. You are here to shine.
Start learning about you. What makes you happy? What lights your heart up with joy? Some people are so used to thinking about what makes other people happy, that this really is an alien concept. If this is the case, start finding out today. When someone asks you what you fancy for lunch don’t say the usual “I don’t mind” or “Whatever you fancy”, take a moment to think about what you would like to eat and let the other person know. Step by step you start getting clear what makes you happy.
People-Pleasing robs you of your natural expression and joy in life. As I shared, these are some of the ways I deal with this tendency in myself. Are you a recovering People-Pleaser? I would love to hear about your experiences.