Back in April, I described people pleasing as a control strategy - a way to manipulate people’s opinions of us, an attempt to gain approval and likability.
But there is something deeper under people pleasing.
What is the reason we want others to like and approve of us?
Because others’ dislike or disapproval feels terrible.
People pleasing can be a way to avoid this discomfort, to attempt to outsmart anxiety or manage a deep fear of rejection or abandonment.
But there is a cost.
Prioritizing the needs of other at your own expense can lead to resentment, unhealthy relationship patterns, depression, and a lack of personal identity. Because people pleasing can mean self-betrayal, it damages your confidence and relationship to yourself.
It creates disconnection rather than intimacy (showing your true self) with others.
In other words, people pleasing creates exactly what it promises to avoid.
Here are more ways to break out of the people pleasing habit:
Clarify your own needs, wants, and values. If you have been putting others before yourself, you may have difficulty even knowing what you desire or what matters to you. Here are ways to start noticing what you want and what you value.
Choose love, not fear. When presented with a decision, ask yourself which choice is motivated by your values and which is motivated by fear (of what others may think or feel and a desire to control that).
Build assertiveness skills. Being assertive does not mean being aggressive. It means respecting yourself and others by clearly and honestly expressing your position or needs. It may involve setting and keeping boundaries (Yes, this is hard. That’s why we need to do what’s below).
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Be willing to feel difficult feelings. There is actually a particular technique to accepting and feeling uncomfortable emotions. Let me guide you.
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