Get Your Life Back – Stop People Pleasing

As children, most of us are brought up to share toys with other children. This is an important part of being socialised; we learn the important skill of cooperation with others, which is far more likely to lead to an abundant life (win-win scenarios, leading to maximal long-term gains).

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.

However, in some of us, for a mixture of reasons, this teaching goes awry. Instead, of it being a balanced process, some of us start giving too much to others, which in regular parlance is often known as people pleasing. Carl Rogers (a prominent psychologist, and early therapy pioneer), talked about conditions of worth, this are conditions our significant caregivers (parents, foster parents, teach etc) put on us in relation to receiving love or recognition. We can start, only feeling worthy when they reward us in some way for behaving as they want us to. Some children get rewarded for being kind to others, but if most of their love comes when they do this, they will be conditioned into pleasing others too much.

Why is Being Too Thoughtful a Problem?

Being thoughtful is something a lot more people should work on, however some people are too thoughtful, meaning they always consider someone else’s position, while omitting their own needs. This is when people can become drained, and later on, angry or depressed if their needs are continually not met. It can also lead to being easily manipulated by others, who see you as an easy ride to get their needs met.

A prominent meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield says, “If your compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete”. This sums up what people who people please need to do.

How Can I Stop People Pleasing?

The problem is that this behaviour has almost certainly become a deeply ingrained habit, and as you are probably aware, old habits die hard. It takes time and patience to slowly change our habits. You will need to develop awareness to spot yourself doing people pleasing behaviours or actions, here are some common ones:

  • Saying yes to almost every request from others (rarely saying no)
  • Never putting your own needs first
  • Compromising too much
  • Feeling frantically busy and exhausted, but not getting many of your needs met

You might find it useful to:

  • Develop more awareness, for example of saying “yes”. Before saying yes ask yourself these five questions:
    1. Do I really want to do this?
    2. Do I have enough energy to do this?
    3. Do I have enough time to do this?
    4. Do I have enough resources to do this? (money etc)
    5. Is this going to be a win-win / two-way exchange?
  • If you answer no to any of these, then reflect a bit more, whether you want to do it.
  • Be patient with yourself – if you say “Yes”, but later realise you’ve fallen into your automatic programming, learn that it’s ok to phone the person back, and say “No”. You don’t need to grovel, but instead be firm, fair and assertive. It’s ok to change your mind

If you would like coaching in this area, please let me know. I am happy to guide you through the process.

Many thanks

Mike