Do you feel like there is not enough time in your day to get everything done? Do you feel overwhelmed, taken for granted and undervalued? Chances are that you have people pleasing tendencies, and that the real problem comes from how you respond to the people in your life, constantly prioritising their needs over yours.
However, allow me to put a different spin on the story you might be telling yourself. The plot twist is that by over compensating for others, you are most likely trying to meet your own needs. In other words, by over giving you are unconsciously trying to get something from the other person. That's what is really making you exhausted and frustrated. Let me be clear, my intention here is not for you to start judging yourself, but to give you access to different coping strategies; ones that will actually work for you.
People pleasing is a very common problem and, by the same token, a perfectly solvable one. I know what I am talking about as I am a recovering one. So, I understand how uncomfortable it can be to look at your behaviour from the particular angle I just gave you. However, as you will hear me repeat time and again, awareness is key. And, I can assure you that it is the kind of awareness that will allow you to lead a more balanced and fulfilling life. It will help you to start looking at ways to meet the needs you are currently projecting onto others.
Before we do that, let's look at how people pleasing might show up for you. Below are some common people pleasing characteristics:
Commonly, you'll see people pleasing with one or more of these traits: Low self-esteem, overachievement, a strong need to control, type A personality style & perfectionism.
Now, what I want you to understand is that people pleasing is NOT the cause, but the effect of a much deeper issue. As I explained earlier, the answers lie in those unmet needs that are driving you to act that way. So the surest way to tackle the real issue, is to take a good look at what those needs are.
Often, when you resort to people pleasing, it is the wounded child in you who is running the show. You might have grown up in a household where, for whatever circumstances, your parents were too caught up in their own struggles to tend to your needs in the way you wanted them to. For example, you might have had parents who argued often and one of them would criticise the other, offloading their emotions on to you. You learned that listening to them and tending to their emotions was a way to get their approval and love. Or you might have learned that being the good girl/boy, and silencing your own wants & needs, helped apease your caregivers, and earn their approval. There are many different case scenarios. I just wanted to give you a few examples, so you can see how as an adult you might be resorting to the same mechanisms to get what the child in you is still yearning for.
Having said that, although going back to childhood can be useful to understand where your behaviour comes from, the real answers are in how you are choosing to show up as an adult. Blaming your parents is just another way of not taking responsibility for your behaviour and staying stuck in the same old rut. Yes, you can absolutely tend to that child and do your inner child work. However, you are in charge of your life now and you owe it to that child to get yourself back in the driver's seat.
One of the best ways to do that is next time you find yourself carrying out any of the behaviours listed above, ask yourself: What am I doing this for? What need am I trying to validate by being out of integrity with what I want for myself. Let's say, for example, that you are at a party and you promised yourself not to have any alcohol. But then, the host pulls out an expensive bottle of wine that he wants to showcase for the occasion. You see the look of joy on his face when he brings out the bottle and your intention for yourself goes out the window.You may ask yourself: what am I trying to achieve for myself by having that glass of wine?The answer could be along these lines:
- I avoid upsetting him.
- And, when I don't upset him what do I get that is even more important for me?
- I make him happy and avoid any type of conflict.
- And when I avoid conflict and make him happy, what does that give me?
- I feel accepted and, therefore, valued.
Now ask yourself, what is a better way for me to value myself in that situation? Saying that you appreciate his gesture, but that you don't want to drink alcohol and declining his offer, is a way to value yourself. Ironically, it is a far better way to appreciate and value the other person too. Because, at the end of the day, when you are out of integrity with yourself you are also acting out of integrity with others. Nobody is saying that you can't do people favours and compromise from time to time. Emotional maturity comes with being flexible at all times and knowing when it is appropriate to behave one way, and when it is not. Therefore, you must be very clear on the intention behind your behaviour. If you are truly acting from a place of love and generosity, you will not end up feeling resentful or burned out.
In my upcoming podcast episode, I shall delve deeper into the root cause of people pleasing and give you additional tools and tips to trade in that habit for healthier ones. I also explain why people pleasing not only disempowers you, but also disempowers the person you are trying to please. The episode will be released on the 14th of December, so please feel free to listen in then. To access the full details, click here.
And remember, once you decide to look at your share of responsibility in your conflicts, you regain the power to choose who you want to be in any given situation. You get to parent the scared child in you, in the right way this time.
PS: If you are feeling stuck and need some extra help to see what is driving you to repeat the same conflicts or behavioural patterns, a BNE session might be just what you need. You can find out more about my work and how I can help here.
Hi, I´m Dannie
A fellow soul seeker, blogger & certified BioNeuroEmotion® (BNE) practitioner who is passionate about growing, self actualising & learning in order to lead a more coherent/conscious life and help others do the same.