Copyright 2006 Sharron Phillips
It took me years to acknowledge that I was a People Pleaser. I am shifting away from that pattern of behavior and find great relief and satisfaction in the change. Here I am, an independent, successful woman with a mind of my own. How could I be a People Pleaser? Another term to describe this pattern is compliance, and that says more to me regarding my actions. I would consistently avoid conflict, ignore what I didn’t agree with,and do lots of good deeds which would boost my worth. I was mostly nice, except for times of exploded emotion in an attempt to deal with conflict. I did not speak my mind even though I knew what I thought. What I didn’t know so well was what I felt, what my needs were and how to express them.
The moment I discovered I was a People Pleaser was on my birthday last year. A close friend and my husband helped me to celebrate the day. After a leisurely brunch, I said to them, ‘What would you like to do today?’ They replied that this would be my day to make all the decisions and therefore create the perfect day for myself. It seemed so foreign to me to direct the day according to what I wanted! I was honestly exhausted by dinner time and asked for their help to make decisions!
Here are 3 reasons to stop being a People Pleaser.
1. You may discover how to negotiate conflict in a constructive, beneficial exchange. How many times is there a sense of conflict, and you have been unable to even address the conflict, let alone engage in the negotiating by expressing your feelings and needs, or move toward resolution. Life is change, conflict, and compromise. One of the gifts of following the path of resolving conflict is that we learn to honor ourselves in giving and receiving compassion as we learn what our needs are, what other’s needs are and how we can compassionately work together to meet all the needs of each particular situation. There are some basics before any of this can take place. Practice speaking your mind. Find a partner, group or therapist to help you with scenarios as you discover the way you can explain your needs. Find out what your needs are. Discover how to express what you feel and before that, practice saying what you feel by either self talk, journalling or find a friend to help. You will learn to speak your mind in a way that can be understood and appreciated and that will go a long way to being more comfortable with inevitable conflict that teaches us so much.
2. You may discover that your worth does not depend on how many good deeds you do for others at your own expense and personal development. Giving from the heart is an enormous gift to the giver. Giving because of a sense of duty, obligation, or way to a beautiful afterlife is less of a gift to the giver. It is easy to measure the different feel of doing something for someone because of duty or doing something for someone out of love. Connecting to your heart energy is enriching, because the result is a deep relationship with what you most value. This may be helpful to see what, how and why your giving will be translated in your contributions to the outside world.
3. You may discover how to say ‘NO’ and not feel guilty or feel the need to offer an extensive explanation around your answer. A story that illustrated and gave me permission to practice saying ‘NO’ is about a school staff member who telephoned a Mom to ask her to make cupcakes for a school event the following day. There are people who will consistently and ‘happily’ take care of requests. The Mom in this instance decided to say ‘NO’. The world did not fall apart, and the person who had asked the favor, went on to the next name on her list and did find someone to do the task. I’m not saying that ‘NO’ is the obvious and only reply. There is a difference to always saying ‘YES’, and to making a decision whether to say ‘YES’ or ‘NO’. Another way to look at this is to know by saying ‘YES’, what are you saying ‘NO’ to? So take the example of the cupcakes. By saying ‘YES’, there may have been less time for attending a child’s soccer game, reading a bedtime story, or relax time with a spouse after a hectic day. Knowing that you have the option of saying ‘NO’ is very freeing and healthy.
There are plenty of resources available about People Pleasers. You may be glad you explored this pattern in yourself.