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October 10, 2023

People Pleasing

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One thing that I see so many people get caught up in, including myself, is people pleasing. And it’s not entirely wrong, it comes from a place of genuinely wanting to make sure other people are happy and supported. But the challenge is, how can we do it in such a way so that we don’t step over the line where it goes from being helpful to being sacrificial?

Many of us find ourselves on the extreme side of people pleasing and because of that, I want to get more specific about what’s actually happening. 

In a few different ways, seeking to please others at our own expense teaches us to become dependent on external validation. Instead of finding pride in our own actions, we trust someone else’s opinion over our own. Instead of feeling intrinsically rewarded by our effort, we connect fulfillment with perceived achievement.

And every time we put someone else’s needs above our own, we further permit the belief system that makes it more and more acceptable.

What this leads to is that you’re much less likely to enforce your personal boundaries for fear of making someone else feel bad, which ultimately causes you to be pulled further away from what you want and need. It also causes you to be overstretched so that you have less to give others, pouring from a glass that is nearing empty.

Again, this is the extreme side of the equation. So how do we strike a more healthy balance?

It’s all about intentions and communication. If you can tell someone the ways you’d like to be helpful, within the conditions that do not lead to you compromising your own needs, you have more authority to say “no” when your boundary gets tested. This requires that you define where your boundary is and you make sure the people around you know it.

For example, I’m really prioritizing my sleep right now. So what I did was I told my fiance that my intention is to be asleep by 10:30pm and if she wants my attention, I have plenty of it to offer before then. She has received that message and complied with it, helping us to find mutual ways to get our needs met.

To summarize - Don’t completely reject that people-pleasing nature you have inside of you. It’s beautiful and it means that you care. But when you compromise yourself to please others it reinforces a negative loop that makes things worse for everyone involved in the long run.


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