You Don’t Have To Meet Other People’s Needs To Meet Yours

You Don’t Have To Meet Other People’s Needs To Meet Yours

Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that pleasing people was the key to my happiness. Like the typical people pleaser, I believed that meeting other people’s needs, expectations, and desires, was somehow going to meet my own needs. What I failed to realise is that people pleasing runs counter to having good self-esteem and being happy.

My needs are mine for me to meet.

Other people’s needs are theirs to meet.

That and NO isn’t a dirty word. The sky won’t fall down, and we have two hands for a reason.

Why overfeed others and coddle them while starving and neglecting ourselves?

Let’s be clear about what people pleasing involves so as not to mix it up with doing stuff for others just because, and yes, occasionally inconveniencing ourselves to help somebody out.

People pleasing, while there’s no doubt that it ‘helps’ others at times, it’s not really about ‘help’ or ‘giving’ in the genuine sense.

People pleasing is about suppressing your needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions — your values. It’s ‘pleasing’ others in the hope it will lead to attention, affection, approval, validation or love.

There’s also another motive for people pleasing. It’s hoping that if you do all of this stuff, that you will be spared from conflict, criticism, rejection, disappointment and basically anything that you deem as unpleasant and disapproving.

The more that you people please, the dimmer your inner voice gets. After a while, you lose your sense of self.

This is why I hear from people of all ages who have no clue who they are. It’s because they’ve spent their lives being the servants of other people’s avoidance and ego stroking.

With people pleasing, you also inadvertently run into integrity issues. By prioritising pleasing others, you adjust your thinking and behaviour to be and do what you think will lead to being ‘pleasing’. You’re not showing up as you. Even when you attempt to do so, if you so much as think that there’s a possibility of conflict, criticism or disappointment, you’ll shut the real you down in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

People pleasing is a mix of passive and passive-aggressive behaviour. This is something that most pleasers are uncomfortable admitting, especially with the latter.

Assertiveness, representing your needs, wants, expectations, feelings and opinions, and basically who you are, with respect, is very different to aggression, which is doing the same but by force.

The average people pleaser mixes up assertiveness and aggression due to negative associations likely garnered in childhood. Aggressive folk please themselves to the exclusion of and detriment of others. It’s easy to how pleasers end up believing that anything other than being a doormat is ‘selfish’.

The passive aggression kicks in because people pleasing always has a hidden agenda.

Even if you don’t recognise it at the time, you sure as hell will when you acknowledge how bloody pissed off you feel with people who you’ve pretty much bent over backwards to accommodate.

When you suppress your identity and basically subsist on a crumb diet to accommodate others, it’s with this idea that, Hey, I’m not voicing my actual opinion and I’m letting you cross boundaries. The least you could fricking do is give me what I want and appreciate everything I sacrifice for you.

Whenever I talk with angry people pleasers, a significant source of upset is that they’ve pretended that things were OK and ran around pleasing, believing that it would mean that they couldn’t or wouldn’t experience criticism. They believed that these people had no reason to act up or leave and that when they called in a favour, their efforts would be reciprocated.

When you people please, you end up with a gradual build-up of anger. Your pleasing masks hidden rage.

You become a pressure cooker left on the hob, and eventually, you explode. It’s either that or the anger gets turned inward because you don’t allow your feelings and thoughts to come to the surface. You avoid expressing anger, which incidentally is a healthy emotion, because you don’t want to run the risk of disapproval. You may even feel guilty and ashamed for feeling angry. Apparently ‘good people’ and ‘worthy people’ take it all lying down. Um, they don’t!

Conversely, you may also feel ashamed about how you’ve represented yourself. You might blame you for the actions of others, forgetting that yes you could represent you better, but their actions are their own.

What I can tell you is that you can’t be a people pleaser and have healthy self-esteem. It’s gotta be one or the other. Choose wisely.

Genuine giving and help don’t have a hidden agenda. If you wouldn’t give or help or do any of your people-pleasing stuff if you didn’t think that you were going to get some form of approval, validation, change in the other person’s behaviour (or whatever your agenda is), halt.

I’m A Recovering People Pleaser

I’m A Recovering People Pleaser

I, Natalie Lue, am a recovering people pleaser. Suppressing my needs, wants, expectations, feelings and opinions (people pleasing) is as natural to me as breathing. As a result, it’s become part of my daily self-care to be conscious, aware and present about where and why my inner pleaser is showing up. I’ve been doing it for long enough now–the noticing it that is–that on those occasions where my pleaser has a little too much airtime, it feels mighty uncomfortable.

The discomfort is good because it keeps me out of a lot of trouble and is a sign of how much I’ve grown. There was a time when I put up with all sorts of shenanigans in the name of not wanting to rock the boat and out of fear of hurting the other person’s feelings by ‘being myself’ and having some basic boundaries.

When I talk about this with Reclaimers (the folks who read and listen to my work over at Baggage Reclaim), especially when I run workshops, we end up laughing our heads off when we think about the things that we do in the name of being ‘pleasing’.

Here’s just a sample:

– Sleeping with somebody, not because we really want to but because we feel bad about them being not being able to act on their horniness.

– Hastily saying yes to something we don’t want to do and expending a lot of energy figuring out how to extricate ourselves out of it.

– Carrying on as if someone will be mortally wounded if we admit that we don’t want to do something or that we don’t want to do it right now.

– Remaining achingly silent because we fear using the ‘wrong words’.

– Dimming our light so that people don’t feel away about our talents, accomplishments and achievements or us being our authentic self.

– Sacrificing ourselves for romantic partners and being genuinely perplexed as to why we aren’t chosen.

– Putting up with being mistreated because we think that our suffering through continued pleasing will eventually be rewarded.

Heaven forbid that anyone should have to wait, do without, be uncomfortable, or, wait for it, take care of their own needs, expectations, desires, feelings and opinions!

Funny though, how our needs, expectations, desires, feelings and opinions are delayed and neglected and how we’re prepared to be in so much discomfort that our current life choices might actually be excruciating.

People pleasing is an epidemic that affects our emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and even financial health.

It makes it difficult to know where we end and others begin because we are over-feeling. We try to feel other people’s feelings and anticipate ‘everything’ and then compromise our well-being due to ignoring our feelings. It’s all the more complicated by the fact that we project due to our fears, so it turns out that we also do a whole lot of unnecessary overcompensating. The codependency, so feeling excessively emotionally reliant on others, leaves us without healthy boundaries, which after a while starts to feel like not having any skin.

People pleasing damages our self-image — our perception of our appearance, how we fit in socially, our personality and opportunities, as well as our integrity and the integrity of our relationships, and how intimate we are.

 

We can’t pretend to be something we’re not and be excessively concerned with other people’s feelings and opinions and maintain genuine intimacy at the same time.

 

The more we people-please, the less inner peace we have.

 

The day after burying my father who was the quintessential people pleaser, I made a commitment: I will not feel guilty about all of the bullshit that I have felt guilty about all my life.

That doesn’t mean that I will not feel bad when I err but I will not burn up my time, energy, effort and emotion feeling guilty about such things like spending time with extended family, enjoying spending time with my half-siblings and stepmother, not being the same as the people who feel uncomfortable about me being different, or not being comfortable with bullshit.

I’ve spent the majority of my life feeling guilty in some shape or form for being me, and I just can’t do it anymore. I am determined to keep eating into my perfectionism because, like many pleasers, I have habits that have been designed around this notion that I am not ‘good enough’ and forever feeling guilty that I’m not doing ‘enough’, whatever the feck that means.

I’m learning to be cool with where I’m at instead of beating me up for not being ‘more successful’. Also, as I continue to grow, I refuse to feel guilty for growing.

People pleasers secretly fear, even as we get better at being ourselves and not investing our good qualities in the wrong places, that if we do well and ‘disobey’ the status quo, that we’ll run the risk of alienating loved ones (or even not-so-loved ones) and being abandoned. We also fear that if we do well or just do our thing, that someone is going to feel shitty about it. Feck that.

People are gonna say what they’re gonna say and do what they’re gonna do, regardless, so it’s best to get on with the business of being you.

I am a work in progress and hell, I am in such a different place to where I was 12 years ago where my habits nearly killed me (story for another day), but that pleaser part of me, of you, will not disappear entirely. It’s going to show up at times to remind us to get back into alignment, to take care of ourselves, to clear whatever emotional baggage is showing up in that moment.

It doesn’t make sense to be a perfectionist about being a recovering pleaser.

We each have particular reasons from earlier in life that have contributed to our patterns and habits. Compassionately acknowledging the journey that we’ve travelled to this point is critical. It’s the antidote to the shame that often accompanies our inner struggle and the outer habits.

The key is to commit to doing things from a place of genuine desire instead of out of obligation and guilt.

As cliche as it may sound, do things from a place of joy, from a place of love, care, trust and respect, so with compassion for you as well as for others. You won’t just recover–you will blossom, you will thrive. New possibilities will open up, and you will no longer feel in turmoil and be shutting down the most beautiful, loving and creative parts of you that are crying out to see the light, to be shared.

Why we’re not going to be happy being and doing the things that make us unhappy

Why we’re not going to be happy being and doing the things that make us unhappy

Whenever I ask people what they want, I invariably hear variations of, “I just want to be happy”. Many of us are obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. Because we don’t, for instance, have a Brady Bunch family or a perfect past, or even a blemish-free relationship history, and we’re certainly not feeling happy all or most of the time, we feel as if we’re falling short.

We feel bad for not living up to some ideal that we’ve likely hoovered up from the media. We compare ourselves to our peers and imaginary people that we believe are so much better than us.

 

“I just want to be happy” often comes out of the mouths of people pleasers. We deprioritise our own needs, desires and expectations in the hope of receiving validation, love, attention and the like. We also hope that our efforts will minimise conflict, disappointment, criticism, rejection and basically anything unpleasant. Ironically, we tend to expect others to represent the very needs, expectations, wishes and identity that we don’t represent.

Here’s the thing though: we tend to be quite convoluted and complicated about ‘getting’ happy. We’re all built on habits and some of these patterns of thinking and behaviour run counter to the very things that we profess to need, want and expect.

We may ‘just’ want to be happy but change doesn’t happen without change. More importantly, we can’t expect to be happy by doing things that directly contribute to us being unhappy.

We say that we want to be happy. Unfortunately, we can often be more comfortable hanging onto bullshit than we are with getting out of that uncomfortable comfort zone. Striving for authenticity and being ourselves is something we avoid.

We want happiness while still clinging to the same unhealthy/unproductive patterns of thinking and behaviour. That’s pretty tricky when the backing track to our life is negative self-talk, we’re neglecting ourselves, or have toxic relationships. So is relying on external solutions to prop up our ‘self’-esteem. We avoid aspects of ourselves and life, and wind up in more pain.

We can’t expect happiness when our pleasing automatically treats much of what we think, feel and do as ‘facts’ and judgements about our worthiness.

Let’s imagine that you go to see a career advisor. They ask, ‘So, what is it that you want to do with your life?’, and you respond with, ‘I just want to, you know, have a job’. Or maybe you say, ‘I just want to earn money.’ Um, O-K. That’s a pretty vague pursuit and remit to work from.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy but break it down.

What does happiness look and feel like to you?

What would being happy involve?

Is what you’re doing now taking you closer to being and feeling like this or in the opposite direction?

Do your thoughts support your desire or are your thoughts affirming all sorts of negative crap?

Is a lot of what you envision as making you happy out of your hands due to it being reliant on a person changing or other external factors?

What can you do for you?