Updated: Oct 5, 2022
People-pleasing has a lot to answer for.
The abandonment and denial of our true selves. The idea that being a martyr is going to keep you safe and protected, the false sense of control and security over your life. The constraint is that only if everyone else is okay are you allowed to be okay.
It’s painful to wake up to the fact that this doesn’t serve you, nor does it serve others. It’s frightening to realize that the construct that you have based your self-worth and people-pleasing behaviours on doesn’t come to save you or fight for you in the end. It destroys you, limb by limb, starting out slowly with “hmm, maybe I don’t like that,” and slides up to, “this isn’t okay for me,” and ends with an excruciating mass clearing out. Death. Ashes are the remnants of the people pleaser, and all they have known to be true are now swirling and scattered in a sparse landscape.
Death lends itself to grief, to a period of pain and mourning, confusion, and shock. This time is significant because it is where the plates of the new earth are slowly shifting under the surface. New ideas, concepts, and structures are forming a new way of life, a self-actualized way of being where you live life for yourself, on your own terms, not according to the terms of others, and the sole person that informs your choices is you. It takes time, dedication, and effort to get here. Choosing yourself (not just once but as a way of life), is a brave choice and one not everyone is willing to make.
If you stay on the ‘safe’ side and pledge your allegiance to be a people pleaser this may mean a few things. You will ruffle fewer feathers. You may have quite a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. You will occasionally feel burnt out and exhausted. You will feel resentful of the choices that you and other people make. Shame and guilt of not doing enough knock on your door frequently. This often flips over to feeling defensive and hurt. You have connections that require you to act under a certain set of conditions. When you don’t, this creates confusion and anger.
Some or much of your worth is based on things or people outside of yourself.
A foundation that is dependent on external factors is a shaky one. A construct dictated by others, many others, pulls and bends and breaks in varying directions.
Here are 6 questions to reflect on if you identify as a people pleaser:
1. What if the foundation of your worth was dependent on internal factors? A continual flowing fountain of life force energy. Suddenly there is a renewed sense of inner fulfilment and control. I choose how to react; I choose what to allow and I wholeheartedly stand behind my choices. How does it feel to say those statements out loud? I feel powerful, I feel purposeful and strong.
To step out of people-pleasing into self-choosing is a brazen act. You are open to judgement, criticism, and fallout because now the choices that you are making are ones that solely represent your highest good. To learn that others are not okay with this is a painful lesson, yet what awaits you on the other side – and this is the part that needs more attention – is far more than what you lost in the first place.
Alignment. You are now moving towards alignment with the highest expression of yourself. A wide-open road of sunlight and blue skies, the enticement of limitless possibilities and an expansive horizon. What awaits you here is bathed in golden light. A future that you never imagined could exist because you didn’t even know how much you have been enslaved to others’ views and opinions of you and the way you live your life. How liberating.
2. What could this future entail? (A life so good, so open-hearted and loving that you will come to wonder how this was even a question for you.)
3. And where do you start this journey, walking into the horizon of the greatest version of your life? You start by being very honest with yourself. You remove self-denial, even if for a small moment and allow your innermost feelings & desires to have a voice free of judgement or fear. Tell me – tell you - what is it that you are really wanting. Write it down. Speak it out loud.
4. Ask yourself this: what is it that you are not fully receiving from others that you long for? What are all the things that stand in the way of this?
Here is another journaling prompt that when I tuned into it and wrote my response, unravelled a landslide of realisations for me that I had never looked at before. These realisations have altered my life considerably since I initially wrote down my response:
5. "When it comes to embracing and accepting who I truly am, what am I most afraid of, and why?”
The answer to this informs your fears and what you need to rise above to get to what it is that you truly want. I always find more solace and power through working with (very good) professionals when I am in a big process, especially one as big and shackling as the people pleaser. Our incredible team of life coaches have been able to hold space for me as I move through mine, and I trust these wonderful women will do the same for you.
I want to finish these considerations, with one last question to consider…
6. If the people pleaser within you ceases to exist, then what is it that will take its place instead?