If you’re reading this post, then I’m guessing you have identified as a people-pleaser at one point or another in your life.
HEY! Me too.
It could have been my middle name for a few decades there.
And, I’d be lying to you if I said I never have the urge to agree with someone just so I don’t have to rock the boat, or to say ‘yes’ to something when I deeply know I need to say ‘no,’ or to do what I ‘should’ rather than what I really need, or to put everyone else’s needs first (only to then end up feeling exhausted and resentful with the people I love the most… you know what I’m talking about?).
Truth be told, I’m not sure the sneaky people-pleasing desires every completely disappear.
AND I believe + know it’s wholly possible to develop the practices, tools, self-trust, connection, and resilience to honor your heart in a world that throws a million ‘shoulds’ your way each day.I’ve experienced this growth myself and it’s a joy to watch my clients experience it, too.
People-pleasing can feel like it’s all about taking care of others but deep down it’s actually a self-protective mechanism we develop to try to control how we are perceived and received.
What’s your greatest fear if you think of no longer people-pleasing?
These fears can reveal so much to us about the really good reason ‘why’ we people-please in the first place.
The good news is that when we work to shift from people-pleasing, we CAN be true to ourselves while also caring for + connecting with others in deep and meaningful ways.
So today, I want to reflect a bit with you around people-pleasing and share a game-changing tool to carry with you to start to make this shift (spoiler: it’s a question you can ask yourself and one that I actively ask myself every time I have the urge to people-please).
How have these people-pleasing tendencies showed up for you in your life in the past few months?
Have the local, national, or global events heightened these tendencies?
COVID has brought with it a lot of added fear around food and body image.
The more recent reopening of communal spaces has also added a lot of out-of-the ordinary social dynamics (i.e. communicating personal boundaries with people who might be operating within a different set of boundaries).
The Black Lives Matter protests have sparked many meaningful and often challenging anti-racism conversations at work, within families, in communities, and among friends.
There have been changes in plans, changes in dynamics, changes in perspective, and changes in ourselves.
How has people-pleasing shown up for you in this time?
Have you felt tempted to quiet what’s on your heart to avoid conflict? Have you neglected your food or body image healing because of perceived pressure to follow certain ‘rules’ during this time? Have you ignored your personal boundaries out of fear of being seen as ‘silly’ or ‘ridiculous’?
The last handful of months have stripped away SO MANY of our distractions and many of us have been brought face to face with certain behaviors, patterns, or fears we’ve otherwise been rushing past. Like…
The food guilt or restriction when we know we desire food freedom.
The excessive exercise when we know we need rest.
The neglecting our personal needs to make everyone else feel important.
The swallowing of our truth because it might rock the boat.
The abandoning of what is right for us just in case it might make someone else uncomfortable.
If you’ve felt any of these things in your life, and perhaps especially in these past few months as things have become equal parts eerily quiet and overwhelmingly loud all at once… you’re not alone.
And, I truly believe this is a chance to tune in. To build that self-trust. To grow through resilience.
While it’s technically summer here in Columbus, OH, it feels a bit emotionally like a season of winter: creating space for the blooming that is coming.
What you’re feeling is not an accident and it’s not something you have to push down or rush past.
If we are willing to be here now with what is happening: in our hearts, in our bodies, in our relationships, communities, and the world, it can teach us so much! And, it can allow us to move forward more connected with ourselves than before.
What’s your biggest fear about no longer people-pleasing?
And, what has people-pleasing cost you? Today? This week? The last few months? In your life?
There is a cost to neglecting, rejecting, and abandoning yourself but it’s easy to get so wrapped up in what you ‘should’ do or say or be that you forget about the truth of who you are.
You are enough. You are loved. You are whole.
My therapist asked me an incredible question years ago and continues to ask me (which reminds me to continuously ask myself). It’s a game-changing tool when it comes to releasing people-pleasing tendencies. Today, I want to share this powerful question with you.
When you think of pushing down your needs or ignoring your boundaries or quieting your voice or rejecting your truth, ask:
At what cost?
And, if you shifted this, what would open up for you? What would you gain?