People Pleasing: It’s Time to Put Yourself First
Do you engage in people pleasing behaviors? Many people do, and they suffer as a result. They have more stress, lower self-esteem, and less time for self-care and healing. Recovery is a breeding ground for people pleasing behaviors. The old tapes that tell you that you are not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, wise enough, pretty enough, or fill-in-the-blank begin to kick in, and people pleasing behaviors feed into it. Those tapes fuel your emotional demise.
Are you concerned that you won’t be liked if you disagree?
People pleasing behavior leads to a persistent need to keep the seas calm. People pleasers subconsciously want to be perceived as positive, generous, willing, and available. Agreeing with everyone around them doesn’t rock the boat. It also doesn’t honor one’s own perspective. This will lead to resentment, which leaves one sitting with silent rage and frustration. Internally disagreeing breeds resentment and ekes out as passive aggression: sarcasm, rude comments, or pleasantries with a side of salt.
The remedy? Use your voice! Speak up so you can be heard. As you find your voice, you will discover that more often than not, people will respect you for it. When our actions are determined by a false perception of the outcome, we create an environment of low self-esteem and resentment. Both are dangerous states in recovery. In other words, don’t please others at the expense of your well-being.
Do you rely on outside validation in order to make a decision?
If you find yourself saying yes because it will make you look “cool” to someone else, or “no” for the same reason, you are again creating grounds for low self-esteem, frustration, and resentment. What others say or think about you doesn’t matter; how you feel about you is most important. Finding ways to honor yourself and your authenticity is going to be your biggest asset.
Boundaries? What boundaries?!
The desire to be liked often trumps the desire to be heard. Not having boundaries also puts you in a place to be taken advantage of. If your go-t0 answer is always “yes,” then you are setting yourself up to be overwhelmed. Do you often find yourself overcommitted? This creates stress, which can lead to other health problems like depression, heart trouble, high blood pressure, and headaches. The way to combat this is to slowly start setting some boundaries. Practice saying “No.” Practice taking care of YOUR needs before taking care of the needs of others. You are important!
Is “I’m sorry” your go-to response?
Someone bumps into you, but you say, “I’m sorry.” You trip over a crack in the ground, and you say, “I’m sorry.” This is a common phrase found amongst those who are prone to people pleasing and it stems from a couple of things: Low self-esteem, a desire to please others, and a disregard for oneself. I used to be guilty of overusing this phrase, and have since stopped. First I noticed when I would say it. Then I began to stop myself before I said it. And now, if it slips out, I audibly correct myself. “Actually, I am not sorry that you ran into me!” Creating firm boundaries does a couple of things: it is a way of protecting ourselves, it is a form of respect for others, and ourselves, and it is a form of self-care. Being human is messy; we don’t have to live our lives apologizing for it. A well-placed “excuse me” is sufficient.
Is someone else’s welfare always more important than your own?
Sacrificing yourself at the cost of helping someone else is par for the course for most folks who people please. Pushing yourself to the point of too much stress compromises your nervous system and makes you feel overwhelmed, tired, depressed, and frustrated. Remember the analogy you are given on flights:
In case of an emergency, give yourself oxygen first, and THEN help those around you. We are no good to anyone when we are depleted.