How being a people pleaser is actually a pretty selfish thing to do.
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Are you tired of being a people pleaser? These important truths might be enough for you to finally break the pattern. In this post, I will discuss the following points:
Being a people pleaser is actually rooted in selfishness.
After giving so much of myself all of the time, I never thought of myself as being selfish. Why would I? As a mom, I felt like most of my identity was built on the constant sacrifices I made. I thought I was being a great partner and friend when I put my own feelings aside for other people.
Then I had a session with my hypnotherapist who pointed out something I’d never seen before. She said, “You don’t feel comfortable unless the people around you are comfortable. So all this stuff you think you’re doing to make them happy is really an attempt at soothing your own discomfort.”
Listen, I’ve had lightbulb moments before but this was a whole fucking fireworks display. Suddenly everything made sense to me in a way I’d never realized before.
So I’m gonna say it again. When you’re a people pleaser, you’re not comfortable unless the people around you are comfortable. Sure, you might genuinely care about them and want them to be happy and all that, but your driving force, the reason you make it your personal responsibility to make them happy is because it makes you uncomfortable.
You’re being a people pleaser because you don’t want those people to be disappointed in you. Deep down, you’re terrified of them disliking you. No one wants to be disliked, of course, but it’s a different ballgame when you’re a people pleaser. You don’t like yourself enough to be disliked.
The problem is you think you have to earn your worth; you think that someone else gets to dictate your value. And when you put yourself in that mindset, you have to work hard to maintain someone else’s approval. That’s unfair to you — and to them.
Plot twist: most people actually don’t like it when you’re being a people pleaser.
It’s a pretty universal frustration for people pleasers that they never seem to get enough gratitude or appreciation for all they do. Because their heart is somewhat in the right place and they genuinely believe they’re doing so much for other people, it’s baffling to them to not get the same kind of effort — or at least a little bit of praise — in return.
Here’s the thing. Even if you’re not aware of your underlying reasons for being a people pleaser, other people can usually see it. Whether they consciously detect it or not, energetically they know that your attempt to keep them happy is really much more about you than it is about them.
Thus, they’ll either find it off-putting, as in, they find you kinda annoying or inauthentic… or they’ll be the kind of person who is happy to manipulate you. Either way, that’s not exactly a recipe for getting you the thankfulness or respect or love or appreciation you are craving.
Let me give you an example. We’re all pretty familiar with the scenarios of someone taking advantage of you for being a people pleaser, so I’m gonna go with a different angle.
Sometimes my husband will come home after a long day and he’ll be a little quiet, reserved compared to his normal boisterous, silly, happy self. He’s not necessarily angry or going through anything major. He is just processing something internally, usually something that has nothing to do with me.
But until recently, I couldn't stand it. I could feel his energy and the fact that it might be the slightest bit negative freaked me the fuck out.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“We should talk about it…”
If he wasn’t agitated before, he was now. Then I would start spiraling.
Do I care about my husband? Of course. Do I want him to be happy? Of course. But it the reason I was pressing him so hard really about his happiness? No. If it was about his happiness, I’d have been content to give him some space until — if — he wanted to talk about it.
But I bugged him because I was afraid that he was secretly upset about something that was related to me or I'd start panicking that he didn’t feel comfortable talking to me and our relationship was doomed or… here’s the big one… I didn’t feel like I was worthy to be in a good mood if he wasn't in one.
But how do you stop being a people pleaser?
Okay, great, now I’ve successfully made you feel like shit for being a people pleaser, so how do you stop the habit? I mean, can you stop? Of course you can. Come on, have you read any of my blogs ever? You can have, be, do (or not have, not be, not do) anything you want.
And I hope I didn’t actually make you feel like shit. I hope you found the information to be enlightening and freeing, like I did when I first had my little (big) epiphany.
Understanding and accepting this information is the first step to stop being a people pleaser. You need to learn to love yourself, and like yourself, enough to not need other people to love/like you. When you realize the only real reason you were being a people pleaser in the first place was to soothe your own discomfort, doesn’t it make more sense to just love yourself instead? Like, cut the middle man out. Stop going around your elbow to get to your ass, as they say.
Are you going to learn to love yourself overnight? Probably not. But in the very least, you need to give yourself permission to try. Start the process.
The next time someone is in a bad mood, let them be in a bad mood. If it makes you uncomfortable, leave the room. You don’t have to answer every phone call or respond immediately to a text. You do not have to say yes to every favor or invitation.
Start by pretending to say no. Imagine what it would be like to turn something down, something that you really don’t want to do. Do you envision the other person being disappointed in you? That’s okay. Sit with that for a moment and realize it’s not actually that big of a deal. And then, flip it. Be proud of yourself for choosing yourself. Now sit with that emotion. Practice it over and over until you get really good at it.
Everyone benefits when you choose self love.
It feels a bit wonky, doesn’t it? Being a people pleaser is actually selfish, and choosing to love yourself actually benefits the people around you. Now how the hell does that work?
When you build your confidence and learn to care about yourself, then you are happier. That’s an obvious perk for you, duh. But it helps other people, too, because you no longer reek of stress or desperation or anxiety or any other icky emotion that most people don’t want to be around.
You start making decisions and taking action from a more genuine place. It’s not because you need validation from others. All those times you thought you were doing so much for other, you were really asking them to fulfill a need for you. People feel a natural gratitude in situations like that.
When you love yourself, you let others off the hook. Before, you needed them to be okay so that you could feel okay… even if they weren’t ready to be okay. It’s too much pressure.
You needed them to like you, to affirm you, to see you as useful and worthy. It’s exhausting for both parties. Being around you was kinda like a constant guilt trip.
On a different note, when you learn to love yourself and stop taking on burdens that are not yours, you’re no longer stunting someone else’s growth by doing things they need to learn to do for themselves. And you no longer allow people to manipulate you, which is also a valuable lesson for the manipulator.
When you love yourself, you are lighter and easier to be around just by being. You don’t have to try so hard. You raise the vibration just by entering a room.
The only people who won’t be comfortable with you are the people who haven’t learned to love themselves yet. But that’s their job, not yours.
Of course, that said, you are inadvertently helping them by giving them the blueprint, by being a living example. Like I said, everyone benefits.
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