5. People pleasing.
Updated: May 8, 2019
This past week I was miserable, I had a few triggers that set me off into an internal spiral of self-criticism. Typically, I get triggered about something like the way I look, that makes me anxious and focuses on my short comings. I’m then anxious about my anxiety, guilty that I feel this way, lowing my self-esteem, increasing my self-criticism and so on. I've been taught this spiral is called the cycle of hell.
The more you get sucked in the stronger it gets, and I was close to the bottom of this negative whirlpool. I decided to allow myself to be a little vulnerable and reach out for the help from a dear friend of mine. I opened up to her some of the things bothering me and she gave a wonderful answer.
I just want to say that transparent and pure loving honesty is essential for growth, especially when it is from someone who’s opinion you value. Her honesty, and the way she talked to me not caring about personal interest and only for my benefit, sparked this blog post.
My friend started off by pointing out some of the wonderful things she feels greatly defines me. Then she dropped some knowledge on me, that I knew in my heart was true, I just needed the reminder.
I won’t share exactly what she said because it was more personalized to me, the main point was this; what you think of you, will always be more important than what other people think of you. How do you feel about yourself, and what are you doing to improve this are more life giving than what anyone else think about you.
In Amy Morins book “13 things mentally strong people don’t do.” a book that explains what not to do as well as pointing out what is needed to live a better, happier, and more productive life.
Amy points out how people who are people pleasers are actually often, more selfish because of their people pleasing than people who don’t care about pleasing everyone, and only those that matter. The main reason for this is most people who are people pleasers want to be held in higher regard, they are focused on their image and what people think of them rather than the people they are doing things for. This is not in every case, however, I’m sure we can all think of someone like that. The purpose of this post is to put this into the open, to be avoided in our personal lives.
In previous posts I talked about how we should give no space in our minds and hearts about what we can’t control. In her book Amy points out that people pleasing is the attempt to control how other people feel about us, by going to great lengths to make them happy, even if it sacrifices the people we should really be caring about, like our families, or the relationships that really matter. You can’t control what other people feel, you cannot control other people’s actions, trying to please the world is the same as trying to control the world.
Think to yourself, are the times when we forget who we are, and try to be something we are not just to please people we don’t really even know. Like buying something we don’t need just because a famous person uses the same product. Or we spend all our time on social media posting things that show the best aspects of our lives and never the hardships and the negatives, to impress people who follow us painting a picture of perfect life. Amy points out that people who are prone to have people pleasing mindsets are more likely to eat more in a public place than if they did privately, simply to impress people who aren’t paying attention, this seems pretty crazy right? But it’s an actual study, and people actually do.
People who are people pleasers obsess over other people’s problems, not only adding to their own issues but taking upon themselves issues that don’t involve them, causing more stress and anxiety for themselves. Often times people who have this tendency are martyrs about this, taking on more and more then, complaining about their anxiety, hardships, and stress, all in an attempt to have people pity them, then they point out all the things they do for those people. This is people pleasing at its best.
This isn’t just about an in your face approach either, people pleasers can often be too quiet. Have you ever been in a conversation and someone says something you don’t agree with, but you chose not to share your opinion because you were afraid of hurting that person’s feelings?
I have, there have been times where I even pretended like I agreed with them, even though I knew in my heart that I didn’t believe what they were saying was correct.
There are people out there, and I know this may sound sexist, but I see this mostly in women, who strive to please an abusive and bad man, for a complex array of reasons. I have met some people who keep going back to the same dirt bag guy, because they feel guilty about leaving them and hurting their feelings, knowing their insecurities and having pity on their bad behavior feeling they can fix them, therefore leaving themselves open for more torment. People pleasing may not be all bad, there may be people who are good to please, but pleasing the wrong people will always be bad, and it will always harm you in the end.
You can’t make everyone happy.
If you are in a conversation with someone who says something you don’t agree with, sharing your opinion has the potential to strengthen your relationship with them, and it can build respect. Agreeing with someone just to make them like you is fake, it won’t last long, and your true feelings will be exposed sooner or later. It’s ok to say no you don’t agree, it’s ok to not let people walk over you because they have a strong opinion. Pleasing them isn’t as important as keeping your integrity and staying true to your character.
The next time you have a friend who is trying to rationalize their inappropriate actions to you to validate the actions, tell them how you feel about it.
Don’t abandon your standards to please a crowd.
Don’t like a type of music just because everyone else likes it.
There will be people who have strong opinions, who will want you to go along with the crowd. These people are not all bad, and maybe they don’t realize that is what they are doing, maybe you have done this too. Choosing to believe and share what you think, and your own desires is endearing and will draw people closer to you. If people don’t really like that, then they aren’t your people. Be authentic.
I’m single, and I try to date often. There are times when regardless of how attracted I am to a woman I’m out with, that I don’t agree with there life choices, their choice of music, their humor, whatever it may be. It would be really easy to lie and pretend that I love those things too, I might even date that person for a while because of how well we get along. That’s not the real me, but it would please the date, at least for a time. If I told the truth and shared how I feel regardless of who it pleases, that’s the real me, and that woman might not like it. She might be turned off right away and never speak to me again. Some people might not be able to live with that, they might feel like it’s their only chance at love, and if they don’t fit into this perfect mold, the person of their dreams will never be attracted to them.
How often have you seen this? How often have you done this?
You can’t make everyone happy, but you can live true to yourself, and in the long run that will make more people happy and respect and love you, than any lie you could live attempting to please people and fit in.
I am guilty.
Last week one of my main issues was feeling like I wasn’t a good friend and trying to think of ways I could improve. I asked my friend if I was a good friend and if I was liked in our circle. This stress of wanting to please my friends blinded me from the truth. The truth that my friends are my friends because of who I am, and not because of who I am not, or who I pretend to be.
This is corrected by where your values are.
Back to the book by Amy Morin, she asks if you can list your top five values off the top of your head. She says that most people probably can’t. She says that if you aren’t really clear on your values how do you know where to put your energy, and how will you know how to make the best decision in life, like being honest when someone does something you don’t like, or when you get out of that bad relationship with someone who would abuse you. Try to list your values.
Amy Morin says this:
“Common values include:
Children, Romantic relationships, extended family, Spiritual and religious beliefs, volunteering and helping other people, career, money, maintaining good friendships, taking care of your physical health, having a sense of purpose, leisure activities, pleasing people, education.” She says to pick your top five and list them from most important to least important. She then asks, “are you living according to those values?” She asks how much time and money and energy you are spending on things that might not even be on your list. She also asks where pleasing people is not your list and says that it should never be number one.
Take the time to ponder this and write it down. Go over it from time to time and really take the time to adjust and live according to your values.
Here are some benefits of not being a people pleaser, as Amy outlines in her book. When you start living in alignment with your values and choose to be bold, you will experience more self-confidence. You’ll be happier and more content, knowing that the choice you made was the right one. She says that you will have more time and energy to achieve your goals.
You will have less anxiety. People will like you for you, rather than the fake you that we sell to people when we try to do nothing but please them. There are many more, and these are just a few that Amy highlights.
Remember that when you start living for you, you will also unlock the ability to live for others and help them with what they need. Align your life with your values and truly live according to your principles, this will cause more positives to come to your mind on how you are taking control and responsibility over your life.
Only you can control you, don’t try to control other people and how they feel about you, by bending over backward and living in the fear that people won’t like you for you.
Please see the book I talked about in today's blog:
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success
by Amy Morin