The Perils Of People Pleasing

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are agreeing to do something for someone while your inner voice is crying out ‘I don’t want to do that!’ or ‘I’m feeling overwhelmed as it is, I don’t have time for that – what am I doing!??’ All of us could answer ‘YES’ to this at some time or another. But if you are experiencing this frequently, it could be useful to take a closer look at WHY this is happening for you.

Try exploring what your mindset behind saying ‘YES’ is. Do you feel that being kind, always helpful and agreeable is a gateway to feeling useful, loved and accepted? Could you be depending on other people to measure your self-worth by the things you do for them, rather than for the person you are? Do you dance around other people’s difficult behaviours, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel, believing that if you are NICE enough, or did enough for them, that they would behave in a better way. People pleasers frequently will do anything to avoid a situation that might make them look like a difficult, imperfect, or unlikeable person. Even when it means not being at all true to themselves and their own values for fear of upsetting other people.

Chronic people pleasing can lead you to feel disrespected, frustrated, resentful and exhausted! Counselling can help you explore the reasons you feel the need to say ‘YES’ even when it makes you feel uncomfortable. It will help you navigate your belief system and learn how to value yourself without external validation.

To help you start questioning your people pleasing behaviour, we’ve listed some common beliefs and how to reframe them in your mind.

Saying No Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Person

As children, we sometimes learn that it is inappropriate to say no, particularly to elders such as parents, teachers and authority figures. We take on a belief that saying no is ‘bad’. As adults it’s important that we are aware of the messages we may have received growing up (not as a way to blame others, but to be aware of why we behave the way we do), and regain our right to say NO when we want to.

Know Your Value

YOU are unique, valuable and important. If you depend on other people’s approval, what you may be believing is ‘their opinion of me is more important than my opinion about myself.’ It’s important that your sense of self-worth comes from within, not from the opinion of others.

It’s Ok to Put Yourself First

Understanding what you are and aren’t responsible for is important. Setting boundaries and learning to be assertive are great ways to honour yourself. Taking on the burden of other’s expectations, responsibilities, and judgements isn’t only detrimental to you, it doesn’t allow other people to take responsibility for their own behaviour.

It’s OK to Get Support

Sometimes part of people pleasing is helping others and never looking for help for yourself. If you would like to regain your sense of self-worth, learn how to set healthy boundaries and feel ok about saying ‘no’ when you want to, it’s OK to ask for help. Talking to the right friends or mentors can help and seeing a Counsellor can be a great way to find your way back to yourself.

You deserve to take time for yourself. You deserve to talk about yourself and those things that might be holding you back or feel like they are burdening you in some way. Sometimes we need some help coming up with the answers and strategies to get to where we want to be and that is OK. It all starts with believing that you are worthy… and YOU are!!! Be kind to yourself.

If you would like to access the free counselling service at The Centre for Women & Co please call on 3050 3060.

About the author

Amy is the Innovation & Initiatives Manager at the Centre for Women & Co and brings 20+ years of passion, fun and experience in frontline service delivery to her work. Super Creative. Determined. Compassionate. Amy is dedicated to turning great ideas into reality and supporting women from all walks of life.