I used to be a full-time people pleaser. So many of my decisions were ruled by fears of what others would think, of letting other people down, and of being judged. Unfortunately women who are more sensitive or empathic are more susceptible to falling into the people pleasing trap.
The problem with excessive people pleasing is that no matter how hard we try we can never make everyone happy - that is just a fact. When we live our lives only for others, we leave no room for ourselves. We run into burn out and exhaustion. And we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment.
When we step into a more authentic relationship with ourselves and others there are risks.
We run the risk of disrupting or even losing relationships.
When we acknowledge our true feelings, we may have to take action.
We may have to face conflict or difficult conversations rather than avoiding them.
We may need to make uncomfortable changes.
We may need time to figure out who we are without the old patterns.
We may have to face more of our own uncomfortable “stuff’ when we stop focusing so much energy on others.
Yet the rewards are that we can find peace with knowing what is right for us, by judging success on our own terms.
It can clear out the superficial relationships in our life that focus more on what we can do for them, than who we are, or what is best for us.
We can find a better way to love and accept ourselves for who we are, rather than relying solely on the opinions of others.
We can get clear about whose opinions and input is truly important to us and let the rest go – this frees us up to put our energy where it really matters.
We get better at accepting that others will not always do what we want, but we love them anyways. When we can do this for ourselves, we energetically give others the permission to do the same.
We develop greater tolerance for differences. Differences in opinions, in lifestyles, in politics and viewpoints. When we can detach from the need to change ourselves for others, we can also detach from the need to have others conform to our views and develop a greater appreciation for diversity and what makes us each unique.
We cut out the conditional love to make room for unconditional love.
It is more important to know what relationships are important to you and invest most of your energy in cultivating empowering connections and building your tribe, than in trying to achieve the impossible and make everyone happy. At the end of the day, no one else has to live your life but you. Being a nice person and people pleasing are not mutually exclusive. You can still be loving and kind, and let go of people pleasing behaviour.
There are also times where we need to take a firm stand, resulting in moments when others might not like us very much. This forces us to begin to become comfortable with the notion that we are not always going to be liked by everyone. While it would be nice to live in a world where we could all just get along, this isn’t realistic. Conflict is bound to occur, and it’s all about learning to stand up in moments where our values are compromised and to tolerate your own discomfort in these moments.
There are times when others’ reactions to us are really not about us at all. Everyone has his or her own stuff to deal with – stuff he or she may or may not be willing to face or work on. Sometimes others’ negative reactions to us is more about what is going on with them than it is about us. What’s most important at the end of the day is whether we like ourselves. When we remain passive and compliant, when we override our gut feelings and emotions for the sake of not rocking the boat, we risk not respecting ourselves and our own values, morals and ethics. We risk letting others down by not speaking up for what is right. We are the ones who must live with the impact of our decisions and where we choose to invest our energy in the present.