I was an addict. I didn’t take drugs, drink or gamble. I wasn’t addicted to sex, food or exercise. I had none of the usual addictions. I had something else; I was addicted to giving to others. Also known as “people pleasing”, I was the “yes” person, meaning I had no real boundaries as to what I’d give others financially, emotionally and physically. But, this kind of giving is obviously out of balance with what is healthy and reasonable. So why do we do it? We are looking for acceptance and approval from others as a way to feel better about ourselves. Only problem is .¨ it doesn’t work.
“People pleasing” is an intense need to give to, to do for, to care for and to please others for the main purpose of being loved. To people pleasers, being accepted or approved of means being loved. Somewhere in childhood, we received the message that we are worthy of love only when we behave in certain ways .¨ when we are obedient, pleasant, agreeable and when we do things the way the other person wants them done. When we don’t comply, the consequences include getting yelled at, having someone frustrated at us, being told we are useless or stupid and not being loved.
When we carry this thinking or methodology into adulthood, we struggle because each person we come in contact with is someone we need to please in order to be accepted. To be accepted, approved of or loved we have to become a fraud, leaving our true feelings and the need to care for ourselves behind. It affects every part of our lives, especially romantic relationships where people pleasers will typically pair up with an extremely controlling person often creating an emotionally abusive environment. The people pleaser rarely says, “No” or “Enough”. If this is not corrected, we perpetuate a stressful life filled with exhaustion, low self-esteem, resentment and an empty bank account.
Unbalanced Giving is Fear
The driving force behind people pleasing is our fear of not being good enough. This fear generates more fear like the fear of rejection and the fear of failure. It is time for us to see the root of these fears so they no longer plague our lives. That way, when we give, we are doing it freely and through real love.
We are constantly afraid of being rejected in case what we do has not been enough. But, in a world where we are taught that we are not good enough, that is par for the course. The only outcome of anything we do based on this teaching is that it won’t be good enough. The fear of failure is a close relative of rejection because when we are rejected, we have failed. When we don’t do enough or if we haven’t done it the right way, people may not like us or worse yet, they may leave us.
The truth is we are always going to fail in the end when we depend on people pleasing tactics to feel accepted and loved. This is a form of conditional love and conditional love isn’t real love. The only way to guarantee that you feel accepted and loved is to do it for yourself. We haven’t been taught how to do this, but we can learn. We must learn the truth about people pleasing. Truth leads to healing. It is time for every people pleaser to see our level of giving is out of balance and ask ourselves why.
It’s all in the Mind
There is a belief that lives deep in our subconscious that says we are not good enough. The belief is not true, but most of us don’t know that so we devise ways to overcome it. “People pleasing” is one way. Of course, the simplest, most effective way to overcome this is to stop believing we are not good enough. But, that’s not always so easy due to the years of training and mind created support for that self-sabotaging concept. So, until this untrue belief drops away, we must see how the mind operates using this belief and see that the entire process is a mind-created experience.
Here’s how people pleaser thinking goes: Our mind tells that if we are going to be accepted and loved we have to do and do, give and give. So we do and do and give and give. And then our mind evaluates the effectiveness of those actions. Did they work? Did we get what we were hoping for? Do we feel accepted and loved? If the people haven’t responded in a way that we approve of, in a way that we think shows they accept and love us, our mind tells us we have failed. We feel worse than before. But, it’s all happening in our mind .¨ the entire process of people pleasing does not go beyond the boundaries of the mind. It’s a massive set up; a trick that we are falling for over and over.
The fact that it is all happening in the mind is good news because it means we can unravel our people pleasing beliefs, thoughts and behaviors to get to the bottom of them. When we do, we will see that we have more power to change this than ever imagined. That power starts with awareness and ends with self-love.
Balance Comes with Love
The ultimate balancer in life is self-love. So many of us hear this term but don’t really know what it means. Self-love means no longer following the beliefs and thoughts you have about not being good enough. That includes no more people pleasing.
The truth is we don’t need others to approve of us and accept us; we need to approve of and accept ourselves. We don’t need others to make us feel loved; we need to love ourselves. Self-approval is self-acceptance. When we approve of how we are right now, we love ourselves. There are no conditions in this. We don’t have to do anything for anyone so stop pleasing others and start pleasing yourself. Live for you, not for someone else.
It is time for us to be our authentic selves. No more putting our dreams aside because someone else is reacts and is unhappy about them. No more working longer hours than anyone at the office just to prove to the boss we are worthy of a raise. No more worrying that people won’t like us if we say no. No more doing anything, holding back, giving up or ignoring for the sake of pleasing anyone other than ourselves. No more being afraid.
It is time to be brave, to be strong and to be you. It is time for you to express yourself and to live your life just the way you want to live it. You deserve nothing less. You are and always have been good enough. That is the truth.
Let’s get started today. Below are some things that may help you break free from people pleasing and begin living the life you really want today:
- Recognize and admit to people pleasing.
- Decide to stand up for yourself, stick to your guns and make your voice heard.
- Know that you don’t have to be aggressive or confrontational in becoming authentic .¨ kindness and peace are good for all parties involved.
- If you have resentment and anger, find healthy ways to express these, then move on.
- Stop saying “yes” to everyone and everything. You don’t have to do anything to be accepted and loved. You are fine just the way you are.
Being our true selves and no longer giving to others for the purpose of being accepted, approved of and loved means we can give from our heart. We can give without consequences in our life. That is giving freely. Balance in giving can be found in the place where love exists. You will know it when you experience it. There is no fear.