What if you don’t need to ‘recover’ from people-pleasing and instead you could make a few tweaks, hone it and turn it into your new superpower? How would that feel? To embrace all of yourself, the light and the dark? Let me explain…
Whenever I read about the trait of people-pleasing it is often negatively biased and framed as something you need to recover from, like an illness that needs treatment. It’s also known as the ‘disease to please’, which further proves my point!
However often, part of the reason people struggle with this personality trait is because of low confidence and self-esteem, so thinking about it in these terms just exacerbates the problem and confirms your suspicions that there is something wrong with you!
And whilst over-using these traits can absolutely have negative consequences and lead to stress, exhaustion, anxiety, overwhelm and burnout to name but a few, the keyword to highlight here is ‘overuse’; And thinking of it as a shameful part of yourself that needs exercising like an evil spirit from your soul is definitely not helpful!
When properly balanced, there are many positive qualities of this people pleasing part that often get overlooked, but as with any kind of magic, you need practice to really master your craft and get control of your powers, so in this article, I will show you –
- The dark side of people-pleasing.
- The positive qualities that people-pleasers bring to the table.
- The skills you need to master to stop slipping across to the dark side.
- How to hone your people-pleasing superpowers.
Let’s get started…
The Darker Side Of People-Pleasing.
The desire to please others is a coping mechanism often learned from childhood. That doesn’t necessarily mean you had an awful childhood or awful parents; however, we have a way of interpreting things as children that if left unchallenged can trip us up in later life.
Being the one who gives often feels safer than being on the other end. The one who gives has control whereas the receiver is more vulnerable. So it’s a way of avoiding all the unpleasant feelings we’d rather not feel such as guilt, shame, anxiety, hurt and rejection.
If you have a strong driver to please others It’s likely that you thrive on their acceptance and validation and often abandon or dismiss your own needs in favour of theirs. You feel guilty for saying no and resentful at having to say yes!
Essentially you try to manage what others think of you by taking the temperature of the room and adjusting your behaviour accordingly – like a chameleon. And more often than not your self-worth is linked to your usefulness and other peoples approval.
You can find yourself running around someone else’s hamster wheel, exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed and just wanting the world to stop for a moment so you can get off and take a breath!
You feel anxious and frustrated and often lose yourself in your bid for an easy life and not wanting to rock the boat; the reality of which is that life seems easier for everyone other than you!
Many people won’t know what you stand for if you tend to go along with the majority or sit firmly in the middle. In fact, you are so used to going along with others’ opinions and needs and suppressing your own that you may not even know what you think or want anymore!
It can be hard for you to be truly honest with yourself and others for fear of the impact it may have.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
People pleasing, when used responsibly, can become your greatest superpower and propel you to achieve your wildest dreams.
Positive Qualities of People Pleasers
If you have people-pleasing tendencies it’s likely that you are skilled at reading a room and adapting to situations to get the best out of them. You find it easy to connect with others and are great at listening and helping people to solve problems.
You notice small changes and pay attention to details which helps you to anticipate others needs and make them feel seen, heard and valued. This makes you great at supporting others and building relationships.
You most likely hate conflict, which means you have become adept at diffusing uncomfortable situations quickly and coming up with win-win solutions.
Because you are highly motivated to meet others needs and don’t like letting them down, you do your utmost to deliver on your promises and are seen as someone that is capable and reliable.
It’s important to you that those around you are happy and you will go out of your way to facilitate that. However, there is a fine line between being nice and helpful and friendly and slipping into the dark side of this personality trait.
Any strength in the wrong environment can become a weakness. And if you have the tendency to put other peoples needs above your own, you must master the following skills to ensure that you use your superpowers for good, not evil!
The 5 Key Skills To Master
1. Press Pause
Before you commit to helping another hit the pause button and check-in with yourself. Does your heart sink or sing at the thought of helping this person? Notice whether this is something you want to do or feel that you should do?
2. Identify If You Are Giving From A Place Of Love Or Fear
It is likely that at least some of the time you do things for others out of a sense of duty or obligation, or fear of:
- Missing out
- Criticism/Being Disliked
- Losing control/Not being needed
Start to get curious about what is driving your desire to please. Be honest with yourself – do you have any expectations of this good deed being reciprocated? If so, have you communicated this? If not, how will the other person know?
If you are giving from a place of love then it will feel good and there will be no expectation of anything in return…
3. Build Your Confidence & Self-Esteem
It’s likely that you believe your worthiness is based on how useful and valuable you are to others, which leaves you in a constant state of anxiety trying to control their opinion by adapting your behaviour. It’s probably not something you do consciously but It’s an exhausting and soul-destroying way to live.
When you start to embody the belief that who you are (right now) is more than good enough, it allows you to start to detach your worth from others opinions. The reality is that you will not be pleasing to everyone, no matter how hard you try. And their happiness is not your responsibility…
“The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”
– Diane Von Furstenburg
Check out my article on ‘Self Worth – The Value Of You‘ for more information.
4. Get Comfortable With Uncomfortable Feelings
Often you say yes when everything inside you is screaming no because of fear and you are trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings such as guilt and anxiety. However, your freedom and power lie in embracing this discomfort.
Imagine your thoughts and feelings are like clouds in the sky. If you look up at the sky right now, and then again in a few hours time, it will look different. The sky is always changing, just like our emotional wellbeing.
Thoughts and feelings are not permanent. They are not part of you. You are the backdrop for them like the sky is the backdrop for the clouds.
A mantra I like to use when I’m feeling rubbish is ‘this too shall pass’ – so if you do nothing other than acknowledge that you feel rubbish and simply sit with those feelings for a while, they will begin to change.
5. Learn About Boundaries
A boundary is a limit that draws an imaginary line between you and me. It depicts where you end and I begin and shows others how to treat you. Think of it as the property line of your house.
An example of a boundary is saying no to a request when you feel your heart sink. If you would like some further guidance with this your can check out my article ‘Boundaries: What Are They And Why Should You Care’.
I also have an amazing FREE guide to help you get start with boundaries ‘How To Say No & Be Ok With It’.
This will help you to pinpoint the areas in your life where you tend to over-give the most and help you to think about how you’d like it to be different – the first step of changing anything is always awareness. It will then give you some simple tools to play with to start bringing back a sense of control into your life.
How to Hone Your People-Pleasing Superpowers
In my 1:1 coaching programme ‘Stop The World’ we build your ‘responsibly selfish’ skillset which is core to channelling your people-pleasing superpowers in the right way. Here’s what being responsibly selfish looks like –
- Taking care of yourself with no intent to harm another.
- Doing what is right for you, not necessarily what is easy.
- Tuning in to your inner wisdom rather than deferring to others to make decisions.
- Embracing who you are and, as a result, becoming better at loving yourself and others.
- Getting comfortable with uncomfortable emotions.
- Understanding where you end and others begin.
- Having difficult conversations and speaking your truth.
- Being a little selfish to take care of your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
- Asking for and accepting help.
Come work with me for 6 months and I’ll walk you through my 6 pillar process to stop outsourcing your happiness and start making choices that feel good for you.
We’ll begin by reflecting on your experiences that have led to your current situation and getting clear about how you would like it to be different.
We’ll reconnect to who you are and examine your skillset and tendencies with the use of a personality test and a selection of exercises and questionnaires.
We’ll start to explore your current thoughts and feelings and I’ll help you to understand, reframe and manage your emotions better.
We’ll work on how you can take your power back and create more time and energy to build a life you love.
We’ll delve into your relationship with yourself, and with others, and build your courage, confidence and communication muscles so that you’ll leave my programme with a big bag of self-awareness and a toolbox full of tools and techniques to take out into the world and achieve whatever version of success is meaningful to you.
You can find out further details about this programme and book a FREE 45-minute discovery call with me below.
You can also check out my article: