It’s time to stop being a people pleaser!
Are you a people pleaser? Do you find yourself always worrying about how other people see you? Do you do or say things that you don’t really want to just to gain the approval or validation of other people?
Pleasing others is something that I have struggled with throughout my life. Saying and doing what I thought others wanted or expected of me in an attempt to avoid conflict. I didn’t want to be perceived as uncaring, rude or selfish. I certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
So what is really going on here?
Generally, the need to please others is deeply rooted in a fear of rejection, fear of failure, or both.
Fear of rejection is the thought that if we don’t do everything we can to make a person happy then they will leave or stop loving us. This fear usually originates in early relationships where love may have been conditional or where an important person in our lives rejected or abandoned us.
Fear of failure is the feeling that if you disappoint others by letting them down, you will be punished. Fear of failure can arise from childhood experiences where small mistakes resulted in severe or drastic punishment.
To deal with these anxiety provoking underlying thoughts and beliefs that developed when we were young, we strive to make sure that we do everything we can to please those around us.
Although it’s nice to care about other people and do nice things for them, we can’t exchange our own values and sense of self-worth for it. When we are putting the needs and wants of others ahead of our own, we are really sacrificing our own happiness. We are not living a life that is true to our self.
Below are a few tips to help you ensure that your actions are congruent with your own beliefs.
- Re-discover your own needs and values, and stick by them: What are your needs, values and goals? It’s time to realize what is truly important to you. Think of some times when you felt happy, proud and fulfilled. Accept that your needs are just as important and valid as other people’s. No one is going to come along and fight for our needs for us; that’s our responsibility and ours alone.
- Don’t apologize: People pleasers apologize a lot as if everything is their fault. Your partner didn’t sleep well last night? There isn’t any food in the fridge? You are not responsible if someone didn’t sleep (unless you had the music going all night). It is not your purpose in life to make sure there is always food in the fridge. Next time you feel you are about to apologize – DON’T.
- Stop Feeling Responsible for the Emotions of Others: Similar to #2, we must remember that we are not responsible for how others feel. If you say “no” to a friend and that makes her mad, that’s her issue – not yours. Your values and opinions are yours and you have them in place for a reason. You should not pretend to be something you’re not just because you don’t want to offend or upset someone.
- Stop Basing Your Self-Worth on Approval from Others: Our self-image is a picture in our mind of what we think we are like. As a people pleaser we might see ourselves as a good person with decent values who cares about other people. In an effort to feel approved of and feel loved, we are always seeking validation of our self image. Seeking this approval means our own self-worth is determined by what other people think of us. Remind yourself that you don’t need this external approval to believe that you are a worthy person.
- Learn to Say NO: Many of us were raised to believe that if we said “no” it meant that we were selfish and people might not like us. Sometimes saying “no” to someone else means we are saying “yes” to ourselves. This does not make you a bad person or unlikable. If anything it will gain respect from others as they see that you care enough about yourself to set healthy boundaries – and you aren’t afraid to stick to them. You can find tips on asserting yourself here