As a recovering people pleaser, I have done tons of self-reflection on why I do what I do. The jury is still out on that, but I’m no longer as concerned about why. I just want to stop. I do okay for a while and then I relapse. I have noticed that it is easier to stop with certain people and not so easy with others. I am constantly saying that you teach people how to treat you. I realized that my people pleasing tendencies have taught people how to treat me. More importantly I have taught them that they are able to use my urge to please to their advantage.
I have made a list of the things that go through my mind in the middle of my people pleasing thoughts. I have found that my thoughts are really based on nothing. As mentioned previously, this people pleasing behavior only comes into play with only one or two people. Actually most who know me would be shocked that I struggle with this. I generally give little thought about what others think, but my desire to please or not make a certain few uncomfortable has honestly stunted my personal growth.
I think all people pleasers need to examine their reasons. Here the list of questions I asked myself:
Question: What is my true motivation?
Answer: Duh, to please another person. This led me to ask myself another question. Why? I realized that I didn’t want any conflict with that person. The person I didn’t want any conflict with is a huge part of my life. I interact with this person on an almost daily basis and I love this person. There is a certain degree of “I want to please this person because I fear not doing so would cause that person to think less of me.” After thinking about this for a while I realized that although I may disappoint that person, that person will not stop loving me. That person has been disappointed or upset with me before. So what if it happens again. Is it really as big of a deal as I have worked it up to be in my head? I began to realize the root of my people pleasing is fear. That fear is often based on what I think may happen. I need to learn to deal with others disappointment rather than avoiding it. So my motivation to please is based on what I fear may happen.
Question: Why am I worried about what they are going to say?
Answer: First of all, who is “they” (also known as “people)? “People” and “they” are our own reservations and insecurities. We are just putting a name of group of nameless people to an issue we are not willing to address ourselves. Are they even important enough to really be concerned about? So what if they do talk. They will talk anyway. This is something I have gotten over, but I feel people pleasers generally stress over the ubiquitous “they.” What I have learned is that if I am concerned about the “they/people”, that is a personal concern of mine. This thing may be something I am not quite comfortable with. It may be something that requires a bit of a risk, so I want to be let off the hook. What lets me off the hook is blaming my dependence on the “they”. This finding led me to my next question.
Question: Am I making excuses?
Answer: Sometimes. I will admit it has been easy to say that I don’t want to do something because I don’t want to rock a boat, but in actuality I’m just scared. I have noticed this when I verbalize my decision to do or not to do something to another person who I am certain to share my view. Once I get that confirmation, I feel that have been let off the hook. I use people pleasing as an excuse because, unfortunately many people can relate to it and often find it acceptable.
What I have learned is my people pleasing has been rooted in fear. As I have started to break a lot of my people pleasing habits I have realized that when I fight against the urge to please, the results and reactions are not as drastic as a I thought they would be. Of course certain people did not like certain decisions, but that’s life. No disavowals, or broken relationships. Life simply goes on as usual. Once I began to hold fast to my own decisions, I got little to no interference, not two cents were thrown into the mix. It was just accepted.
I would like to continue to challenge all of us to examine hour people pleasing tendencies. Let’s get to the root of it and grow beyond it.