Before understanding the enormous depth of my “People-Pleasing,” I perceived most of my actions as coming from a desire to be a kind, thoughtful individual. I soon discovered that my choices were severely damaging my mental health, and they were a direct result of the following:
- The need to feel a sense of belonging
- Thinking that if I made others happy, then I would find happiness
- Emotional/verbal abuse (i.e., bullied, silent treatment, and gaslighting)
How Was That Working For Me?
My choices of never saying no, apologizing for everything (and) anything, agreeing to others when I didn’t agree, and attending events/activities that I had no desire to engage in chipped away at my physical and mental health. I had no voice, hated conflict, and held no personal worth. I wasn’t living authentically and had no idea who “I” was. If I stripped away all the people-pleasing I engaged in and stood before a mirror, I stared at a complete stranger. I observed an individual that was terrified of rejection, felt unappreciated, and had become a personality shifter. I morphed into whoever I needed to evolve to survive those in my immediate surroundings. No, being a “people-pleaser” was not working for me.
I will forever be a recovering people-pleaser. It is a lifelong process; undoing the past and altering my thoughts and reactions is a 24/7 challenge. Falling back into old patterns is, unfortunately, very easy. Some days are more successful, so I take one at a time. Books, journaling, podcasts, support from family/friends, and therapy have affected my progress.
My Personal Survival Guide
How do I get through my days? Here’s what I can pass along:
- Awareness – First and foremost, I strive to be mindful of what triggers the ugly people-pleasing individual to emerge. (i.e., Am I in a new environment?)
- Acknowledge – Once I realize I’ve fallen back into past habits, I pause and reflect on “What am I feeling?”, “Why do I need to engage in one of the people-pleasing behaviors?”
- Asking myself if I’m people-pleasing or helpful, or kind? Does my choice(s) coincide with my values? Does it resonate with my authentic self? The answer typically lets me know if I participate out of a genuine desire or if I’ve reverted back to past patterns.
- Using My VOICE – To represent myself authentically, I need to verbalize the statements “no,” “yes,” and “I feel.” The door to people-pleasing will never close until I convey my truths to others. This is the most challenging aspect of conquering this problem. Owning my words is terrifying! The idea of pissing someone off was hard to accept since I previously allowed their actions and thoughts to control the relationship. Like it or not, I make space for my voice to be heard. The words may not come out as I planned, but transforming them from a mental thought into a verbalized thinking, regardless of how brief, is a step in the right direction.
- Therapy – To stay on track, therapy has been the key to success. Meeting with an individual who mentors and holds me accountable for my actions encourages me to diminish moments of people-pleasing.
- Showing Self-Compassion – I’m tough on myself and must remind myself that creating new behaviors will NOT transpire overnight. Many people will not like my current choices, and I must accept that it is NOT my issue. Self-care is critical when working on personal growth; I strive to be mindful of my number one priority…ME!
Everyone’s path is different; we must find our way and love ourselves while attempting to do so. Make the most of your journey and allow each step to be a personal pleasure, not a people-pleasing one.