I am a lifelong, somewhat recovering people pleaser. So, mostly today I’m talking to myself, but I have done a lot of work on my people pleasing.
Most of us who are people pleasers, wear it’s somewhat like a badge of honor. I want to show you some simple ways that you can understand if you’re doing it, and give you a little more understanding of what it’s doing to you, and what it’s doing to your relationships.
It’s not helping.
It’s not authentic.
It disconnects us from people rather than connecting us to people.
People pleasers think it’s our job to make everybody happy. We think it’s our job to make sure nobody’s upset. We think it’s our job to make sure everybody’s having a good time, and everybody’s having pleasant emotions.
We will sacrifice ourselves at this altar.
The problem with this is it assumes we can have some kind of control over someone else’s emotions. That’s the toxic part of people pleasing I think we don’t realize.
When we people please people we actually are just manipulating them.
We’re trying to control their response, control their emotions, control what they’re thinking. We usually do it because we want some kind of approval from them. We like to have people like us, we’re addicted to approval.
I do believe it often stems from a good place. I think a lot of my people pleasing came from my childhood where it was the way that I coped. It was the way that I got accepted. I was a performer, an achiever. How can I make everybody happy? I think most people pleasing usually comes from a similar place.
But, if we don’t learn some skill to outgrow people pleasing, it becomes very toxic in our relationships.
People pleasing might look like you doing something that you don’t want to do, but you pretend like you want to do it, so somebody else will like you.
Or maybe you say yes to something that you clearly shouldn’t be doing and don’t want to do. You say yes so that people will think a a certain way about you, so that they’ll approve of you, so they’ll like you.
Maybe you pretend to agree with something that you don’t really agree with so that you don’t hurt someone’s feelings or so that you don’t cause any disturbance of any kind.
I want to show you a side of people-pleasing that’s not very pretty. And when I discovered this, it really changed my life. It made me realize I’m not doing myself any favors, and I’m certainly not doing the person in my life any favors when I’m people-pleasing.
People pleasing is manipulative.
You’re using your behavior as a way to manipulate somebody else to think of you a certain way, treat you a certain way, or approve of you, It’s manipulation because you’re not being your authentic self, and so the whole situation is false, You’re not being true to yourself, so whatever they think about you, they don’t really think about you. They think it about whatever version of you that you have presented to them.
People pleasing is lying.
We are lying to other people when we people please and it does not build healthy relationships. We basically end up betraying ourselves. We basically end up disconnecting from our true self.
We think we’re doing it in order to connect with other people, but we really aren’t because they’re connecting with a version of us that’s not really us.
In the end we end up feeling resentful, bitter, disconnected, and lonely. In the moment people-pleasing feels kind of pleasant, because we often do get the response from people that we want right away, but then in the long run we just feel resentful and bitter.
The short-term discomfort that not people-pleasing will bring, and it will bring some short-term discomfort, is worth it in the long run.
It’s worth it to build stronger relationships.
It’s worth it to build a relationship with yourself that’s true in integrity and in honesty.
People pleasing is not love.
It’s actually the opposite of love. Sometimes we do it because we feel like we want to appease another person, or because we love them. We just want to make it easy, but we’re not making it easy in the long run, and it’s not love.
There’s a huge difference between people pleasing and true, authentic, unconditional love.
I will be the first one to tell you to serve your neighbor. I believe we are called to sacrifice. I believe we are called to service in generosity to other people. I believe we are called to kindness and compassion and all of those things, but what I want to show you is that people pleasing is not that. It’s actually the opposite of that.
It looks like we’re doing the right things on the outside, but on the inside, we’re seething, we’re harboring resentment, we’re getting bitter, we’re showing up passive aggressive. There are all kinds of net negative benefits.
I do think a lot of times we think we’re doing it for the right reasons, or we think we have good intentions, basically what we have is this deep need to be liked and accepted.
We think we can easily get that need met by being whatever people want us to be, and doing what we think other people want us to do. In the long run, that disconnects you from them, and it disconnects you from you.
Often what you will do is ignore yourself.
You will ignore your own beliefs.
You will ignore your own desires.
You will ignore your own priorities.
You will ignore all those things in order to make everybody else happy, and here’s the truth. You can’t make other people happy. You can’t use your behavior to manipulate them to feel happy because other people’s emotions are caused from their own thoughts.
Actions we take that are not really true to who we are, and true to how we want to show up in the world, they’re very superficial. They won’t work.
If it seems to works for a while, what will happen is when you do start showing up as who you really are and what you really think, it’s going to be a rude awakening.
We will often end up feeling lonely and disconnected, and the reason we feel that way is because we have disconnected from who we really are, and from what we really believe, and from what we really desire. That disconnection will be very painful for us, and then we will blame the other person.
We’re also assuming all kinds of things about the other person. It’s kind of a lack of trust in them, and it’s a lack of trust in you, in who you actually are. When we people please, we’re lying. We’re lying to ourselves and we’re lying to other people so they will approve of us. We have this addiction to approval.
People pleasing looks on the outset like love. It looks from the outside like you’re trying to love that person. But it is not love. It’s a lie.
How can we untangle ourselves from this? Here are 4 ways:
1. Become aware of it in yourself.
Be honest with yourself. I would venture to say that everybody, at least at some time or other is a people pleaser, right? We have to admit when we see this in ourselves.
We don’t like to be manipulated. We don’t like to think others are just being fake or they’re just doing things in order to make us feel a certain way, right? We don’t like it when it’s done to us, and our awareness in ourselves when we’re doing it is really important.
I want you to get curious about it though. I’m a lifelong people pleaser, but beating myself up for being that way is not going to help. I want you to have some curiosity and compassion about why you ended up being a people pleaser.
You’ll probably see where it stems from, and you’ll might see that your little self learned how to do that as a way to survive. I look back at my eight-year-old self, and my 12-year-old self, and my 14-year-old self and I have compassion for her.
Because I had never recognized it and dealt with it, when I did come unhinged, I really came unhinged. That’s why recognizing it is awesome. You can have compassion and kindness with yourself, and that compassion and kindness to yourself will then eventually lead to true compassion and true kindness to other people, instead of manipulating other people.
You learned to do this for a reason, and it served you for a while. It helped you survive, you’re here. So we’re not going to beat ourselves up for how we’ve used this coping mechanism to sort of get by, and get through, and get what we needed.
I want to teach you a better way. I want to teach you how to give yourself what you need, instead of always farming out your self-worth and your approval to someone else.
2. Build your sense of self-worth from the inside out.
You agree with God about who you are, and why you’re here, and how he made you. You agree with him. You stop looking to other people to validate it, and you just look to him.
He will look you in the eye and say, “I love you. I created you. I made you for a purpose. I adore you! I’ve equipped you with everything you need to live a full life, and give your gifts to the world.” We agree with him about who we are, and we stop looking for other people to validate us. We stop looking for other people to approve of us.
If you’re a people pleaser, here’s a news flash, you don’t have a good relationship with yourself.
You’re always disrespecting your own beliefs and your own wishes and your own desires.
People pleasing is different than choosing to sacrifice for someone else, recognizing that maybe this is not what I would choose, but this is what I want to do, is different than doing something hoping that by doing it you’ll get their approval.
When you people please you’re ignoring you.
You’re ignoring your sense of self, your sense of what is right and wrong, your sense of the world, your sense of relationships.
You’re not having your own back.
You’re not being true to yourself.
You’re not liking yourself or accepting yourself.
Then you’re wanting everybody else to do it for you.
No, that’s your job. That’s an inside job.
How you strengthen that sense of value in yourself is just how you think about you. You just start trusting and believing that God made you and he loves you. You’re here for a purpose. You don’t need everybody else’s approval for what you’re doing.
You have to decide how you want to think about yourself. You decide what relationship with yourself is like. You reinforce it. You give yourself what you need. You stop ignoring you.
All of those things will help you build a sense of self-worth from the inside out. Learn to be you, and learn to like you so you’re not always looking to other people to do it for you. That’s what people pleasing is.
We’re afraid someone will be disappointed in us. I hate this feeling so bad! I hate it when someone’s disappointed in me. I want to fix it. I want to do whatever I can to undo those feelings they have about me that are unpleasant, but we can’t.
We have to allow people to have their own thoughts about us. What other people think about you is none of your business. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we just go to work, fixing the things inside us that need fixing, tending to our own sense of self-worth so that we’re not farming it out to other people.
We never can control what they think anyway so trying to control it with your actions, or with your words, just doesn’t work. What is does do is leave us feeling like we’ve let ourselves down. We have let ourselves down, because we never pay attention to what we think. We’re always wondering what someone else is thinking!
3. Get clear on you.
Get clear on your goals, on your priorities, on what you believe, on what’s important to you. This is the one that has really helped me, because I’ve had the hardest time in my life saying no. The thing is, when you say yes to something, you are saying no to a bunch of other things.
I’ve realized that I can’t say yes to everything. I get resentful and too busy and then I don’t have enough energy to do the actual things that I say are important in my life.
When you get really clear on what’s important to you, and what your priorities are, then it’s easy to say, “I can’t do that thing,” and you don’t have to apologize for it. “I would love to help, but I can’t.”
This will change with your season of life. This has changed for me over the years, but I know what I have the bandwidth for, and I know what’s really important to me, and what takes a lot of time and energy to do.
You can learn to say no to the things that don’t fit in with what is important in your life, even though it will disappoint people. You will disappoint people.
Don’t you wish we could just manage them, and make them like us? But we can’t, and the sooner we realize that the more we live in the power of the thoughts and feelings we can create for ourselves. The more we live in how we can take care of ourselves. The more we can learn to approve of ourselves instead of asking other people to do it for us.
4. Choose unconditional love instead.
People pleasing is not love. People pleasing is lying. People pleasing is manipulation. It’s not the authentic version of you. It’s not love.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.Luke 10:27
That assumes you’re taking care of you first, that you’re putting your own oxygen mask on, that you’re deciding what you need, and that you’re meeting your needs.
You’re not expecting other people to do those things. You’re good at being clear about your own priorities and your own goals. You’re learning to honor yourself, honoring the commitments you make to yourself, honoring the beliefs that you have about yourself.
Notice how you feel.
Over time, people pleasing leads to bitterness and resentment. If what you’re doing in your life, for your spouse, for your kids, or for your job is leading you to feel resentful and bitter and disconnected, you’re doing it wrong. You’re people pleasing.
If what you’re doing in your life is leading you to feel love and connection and kindness and compassion, both for you and the people in your life, then you’re operating from a place of love.
They’re not the same.
If somebody asks you to do something and you feel like kind of icky about it, but you decide to do it anyway, you just people pleased them, you just manipulated them, you just lied to them. Instead you can say no in a really kind way.
I want you to get into the habit of taking care of yourself. We expect other people to take care of us, but we don’t take care of us. You take care of you. You know what’s important to you.
People pleasing sometimes does feel good in the moment. We get this little hit of dopamine, because we feel like everybody is happy with us. Everybody loves us. Then we wonder why six months later, or a year later, or 20 years later, we’re bitter and resentful.
It’s because we’ve been people pleasing. You’re choosing that instant gratification of saying yes in the moment so people will like you, instead of in the moment feeling a little bit uncomfortable, but in the long run choosing love, compassion, and kindness for yourself and others.
Notice how you feel.
People pleasing will eventually make you not like yourself deep down because you know you’re lying to yourself, then you’ll blame the other person. You’ll think it’s their fault.
Resentment feels bad, love feels good. Love always includes the truth. We have to stop lying. We have to say the truth, and we have to be true to ourselves.
Unconditional love of course will require sacrifice and lots of it, but it will not require you to lie.
People pleasing will require sacrifice, but you’ll be lying, and you won’t like yourself in the end. When we live a lifestyle of people pleasing, it disconnects us from the deepest part of ourselves that has wisdom and love. We choose this sort of superficial connection.
It’s not really connection, because the person isn’t really connected to us, they’re connected to a version of us that always does what they think we should do.
If you want to honor yourself tell the truth. Be clear about your priorities and your goals.
Unconditional love is fierce, because unconditional love is the truth.
People pleasing is not true and It’s not love.
I was so used to people-pleasing that when I ran into Stevie, and he’s not a people pleaser, I thought, “Whoa, is that legal? Can you just tell people you don’t want to go somewhere, and like not do it?”
He’s really clear about his own priorities for himself. I started to bump up against that and see what a better way it is to live. It’s a little bit more uncomfortable at the first, but then you know where each other stands. You live in more integrity and you live with more honesty, instead of just doing what everybody thinks you should do and then secretly seething inside.
These are the kinds of things we are talking about this week in my first ever 5 day #RelationshipGoals Challenge! It has been powerful so far and we’re not even half-way through yet! You don’t want to miss it!
Sign up here for tomorrow’s zoom link, and I’ll also email you the replays!
Great post, Edie. I need to take notes on this one. LOL