Lately I’ve noticed so much people pleasing going on that it’s frightening. This was a pattern that I struggled with for years where I was riddled with guilt if I didn’t put someones else’s needs before my own (which rarely happened as I couldn’t stand living with the guilt!). I have successfully altered this behaviour although on bad days I can revert back to this old pattern as a default. So when I see/hear how people are dealing with their people pleasing ways I know their struggle and just how disheartening pleasing others can be.
As children we are mostly encouraged to think of others and to put others first, but what mindset does this create? Do we end up creating an internal dialogue of guilt driven behaviour that encourages us to put others first? Whats the harm in putting others first I hear you ask? Well the consequences of thinking of what others want from you all of the time is that you never become adept at knowing what you want for own your life. Essentially you end up living someone else’s life and not your own.
When is it okay to think of ourselves first? Well the answer is; all of the time! It is possible to think of yourself and still be a kind person, contrary to popular belief.
Many people pleasers are kept in their roles because they are afraid of being cruel or seemingly unkind to the people in their lives. But yet the only people they’re being cruel to is themselves.
This pattern can also become a self fulfilling prophecy as the more passive the people pleaser becomes the more they attract dominant/aggressive people to them who take advantage of their giving nature. This dynamic in their relationships just encourages more of the same behaviour. The people pleaser gives more to this dominant person in their lives and the dominant person takes more, and so the pattern deepens.
This can be a very subtle dynamic and despite appearances the dominant person is not being malicious, it’s just their own pattern at work also.
So what do I do?
Firstly you have to be aware if there is a pattern of this in your life.
Secondly ask if this is just how you behave with a few people in your life not the majority. (If it is only obvious with a few people maybe you need to question if their dominance is the cause of your passiveness as opposed to you being a passive person in general.)
Thirdly you need to recognise your 50% responsibility to change this pattern, and exercise that responsibility.
What do I mean by your 50% responsibility? Well everybody is 50% responsible for how they are treated in their relationships. If you are being taken advantage of then it is 50% the other persons responsibility to stop taking advantage of you and it is 50% your responsibility to stand up against this unwanted behaviour.
Fourthly the end goal of this exercise is to become assertive. Here are some tips to get you started:
Stating clearly what you want/feel/think.
Making decisions for yourself.
Standing up for yourself.
Acknowledging the other persons point of view.
Looking for ways to resolve problems.
Relaxed posture and facial expression.
Clear, steady, firm speech.
Try one of these in the coming week and see how it produces different results in your life.
If you feel like you need support around these changes feel free to call for an appointment.