Why do we want to please other people?
At its core, people pleasing is about trying to manipulate someone’s opinion of you –– like raving about how much you love Aunt Maude’s awful egg salad when it really makes you wretch with every bite. 🤣 Why? Because you want her approval.
For some, people pleasing can almost be an addiction … getting off on feeling needed and craving the constant validation.
In fact, it’s something we learn as children.
Author Rachel Heslin, explains:
“To a four-year-old, if Mommy or Daddy doesn’t like you, there is the danger that they will abandon you, and you will die. We need to understand that when we desperately want someone to approve of us, it’s being driven by that little kid part of us that is still terrified of abandonment and death.”
People pleasing is also more common in women. (Breaking news, right? 🙄)
A 2010 study found this gender difference in people-pleasing patterns:
54% of the women in the study showed people-pleasing behavior while only 40% of the men did.
In one article Dr. Teyhou Smyth, professor at Pepperdine University explained:
“The pressure that women feel to be people pleasers is very real. … Young girls are told to be quiet and pleasant, to be orientated towards others, to not speak up for what they want, and to please others. These gender-based stereotypes are continuously reinforced in our society in a manner that distinctly disadvantages women.”
We’re typically clueless how desperately we try to control and manipulate others.
I know I was — I did it as a poor attempt to feel safe.
Pleasing others isn’t wrong. But does it make YOUR heart happy? It’s important to get clear on your intentions.
Putting the fucking birthday card in the mail because you think you HAVE to sucks.
Putting the birthday card in the mail cuz it makes your heart happy feels completely different.
Here are some signs that you’re people pleasing:
- You laugh when others laugh even if it’s not funny.
- You say yes when you want to say no.
- You find yourself apologizing a lot.
- You feel responsible for how other people feel.
- You offer to help someone even though you don’t want to.
- You’re uncomfortable disagreeing with others.
Any of these ring a bell? Yes? Well, you’re obviously human. 😄
Being generous and helpful can make us happy. But for some, the need to please is so strong, we betray our own needs so we can feel accepted and safe.
I used to be the ultimate people pleaser.
I was the chameleon that could fit in anywhere. My mindset was, “Who do you need me to be so you will accept, like, or even love me?”
As the supreme good girl, I had NO IDEA that I was as important as everybody else. Being polite, accommodating, and agreeable were all survival techniques.
My identity centered on controlling other people’s perception of me. So, there was no room for ME.
I lost myself.
I didn’t know what I wanted or needed, let alone how to get it.
My people-pleasing beginnings are obvious.
As a child, loss of self was a requirement in the painful, emotionally distant household I grew up in. Like boat loads of others, I learned it as a survival technique.
As I began to do my work on my healing journey, I was stunned at how much of a people- pleasing machine I had become.
Years ago, a dear friend told me that I hid in plain sight. That was even before I started doing my work. He knew me before I knew me. I’m married to him today. 🤣💜😂
Hiding myself to fit in and be liked by others felt like shit. It was a complete betrayal of myself. I didn’t even know I was doing it … until I started to do my work.
Stopping this lifelong pattern of people pleasing was a huge motivator for me.
I learned that by showing up as all of me, I finally fit in my own skin, whether others liked it or not.
Leaning into discomfort and aligning with truth gives you clarity on how you feel, who you are, and what you need. As you start to speak your truths, you’ll interrupt people-pleasing patterns.
It can be super scary at first … especially if it requires disappointing others in order to be true to yourself. Why? ‘Cuz you’re breaking your people-pleaser cycle. And that change can feel uncomfortable while it’s new.
Plus, it’s bound to piss some people off. People find change hard and want things the way they’ve always been, no matter how dysfunctional. It’s their comfort zone.
Here are 3 things you can do to stop people pleasing.
1. Don’t say yes when you mean no.
When you do say yes and don’t want to, have a conversation in your head. How could you have been more true to yourself? Practice makes perfect. You create new pathways when you try on that new conversation again and again in your head. Over time, you can have a whole new experience.
2. Listen to how you talk to yourself.
Are you being an asshole to yourself? When you don’t speak up or when you agree to something you didn’t want to, ask yourself what stopped you from being true to yourself? What could you have said or done differently? How would that feel?
3. Work on being kind to yourself.
What are you telling yourself when you put someone else’s needs above your own? Would you speak that way to someone you love? Be loving, be kind, be gentle. When you’re looking in the mirror, you’re looking at your very best friend.
Over time, betraying ourselves stops being a go-to option as we let go of pleasing others.
- We experience the strength of healing.
- We begin to trust ourselves.
- We begin to become authentically us.
- Becoming less of a people pleaser and more of you takes work.
And it’s worth it.
You can create a life you love! And you don’t have to do it alone.
Join me and a supportive community of heart-centered women in my monthly program for women, Journey to Your Center.
Guided by me, we explore all kinds of glamorous stuff – people-pleasing, prosperity, control, relationships, anger … all the things that life throws your way. 😎