17 Aug The 4 Biggest Problems with People Pleasing
I don’t know about you, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a major people pleaser.
I make decisions because they minimize the potential that I won’t be living up to others’ expectations of me.
I also worry constantly about hurting others’ feelings, so much that I put own my desires and needs second (or third, or fourth, or seventy-fifth). This often results in the inability to say ’no’ to things I don’t want and ‘yes’ to things I do.
I think I actually fell into this pattern because it made life easy when I was young. I’m good at following rules and coloring in the lines. I did well in school and behaved in class.
And to be honest, if you’re measuring your life in terms of the praise you receive and judgment that you don’t, this formula makes sense. When you keep everyone happy, you don’t risk the discomfort and vulnerability that comes with potentially rocking the boat.
However, as an independent adult, people pleasing as a default mode of being can be a major issue for four big reasons.
Problem #1: Their interests may not align with your own
Prime example: your boss. Your ability to fit into a clearly defined position within your company serves your senior management. So, naturally, they may not support you in evolving your role to align more closely with your skills, interests and strengths if it conflicts with their ability to accomplish work as efficiently and effectively as possible (and unfortunately, this is often precisely what a transition requires – at least temporarily).
Problem #2: What they want for you, even if they think it’s in your best interest, may not support you in achieving what you want most
Case in point: your parents. For so long, our parents protected us from vulnerability, both physical and emotional. “Don’t climb on that shaky branch because you might hurt yourself.” “Ignore that bully because she might hurt your feelings.” “Never speak to strangers!”
This is perfectly natural and often a very good thing when we’re children, but as adults, though we may have flown the nest, the people that care most about us often still want to ensure we’re in safe, stable situations – and what they want for you may not align with the risks you need to take to accomplish your own goals.
Problem #3: This people pleasing habit – this way of being – becomes crystalized, until you can’t deviate from it anymore
Humans are creatures of habit, and when we do something over and over (and receive rewards for it), the action becomes ingrained in us. Neural pathways are set, making it tough to deviate in action or even in thought. And when you lose the ability to think for yourself, you can lose sight of what you want most.
Problem #4: Often, we don’t even know what other people’s expectations truly are, so we make assumptions about what they want that aren’t even accurate
When I decided to launch my coaching practice a few years ago, I was so petrified of looking like a “crazy person” (whatever that means) and embarrassing my family that I didn’t talk about it. I became certified, built my site, developed my coaching programs, created content each week…but kept it all under wraps.
It’s not that I denied it – if someone came across Pure Plenty asked me about it, I’d fill them in – but I certainly wasn’t sharing anything on my personal Facebook or Twitter.
And then I realized at one point: I’ve spent my entire LIFE trying so hard to not let anyone down. ENOUGH! It’s time to not let myself down first, and if others are disappointed in the process, that’s their prerogative.
The irony is that once I finally started opening up about what I was working on, nearly everyone was 100% supportive and encouraging. I got where I wanted to be, but it took SO. MUCH. LONGER. than it needed to.
Are you feeling stuck in a cycle of people pleasing that you’re struggling to break out of? Book a FREE Discovery session and let’s work together to develop strategies to get you operating on your own agenda.