Choosing Yourself As A People-Pleaser is One of the Best and Most Difficult Things You Can Do For Yourself
As a recovering people-pleaser, I think people-pleasing has its roots in insecurity and a feeling of less-than.
I was not always a people-pleaser. It’s something I picked up along the way.
The first crack was when I was 13 and my sister compared me to a friend of mine asking why I couldn’t be more like them.
“Maybe because we are different and that’s how God meant for us to be?”
The crack got bigger in high school. I was a victim of bullying.
By the time I was done with high school, I had learned:
Not to trust me.
To dim my light.
To silence my voice.
To take as little space as I possibly could.
To avoid being singled out, do what everyone expects or wants from you.
People-pleasing became a defence mechanism that made me feel safe.
But it was rooted in feelings of inadequacy which bred the insecurity about myself.
The phrase, “Why can’t you be like person X” implies that you are less-than person X in some way.
Being bullied implied that if your light shines too bright, you become an easy target so keep it on the down low.
To betray oneself is one of the worst sins against self that you can commit. In my opinion.
I was doing it every day.
The thing with people-pleasing is once you’re on that path, it feels impossible to switch lanes.
Your every interaction, including how you introduce yourself to new people, is that you are this peace-loving, kumbaya, person who will do whatever to not ruffle feathers.
The day you dare express an opinion, let alone a different one, people clutch imaginary pearls and claim “blasphemy!”
“Who are you and what have you done with our person?”
And that makes you feel self-conscious. Like you’ve done something wrong. As if having an opinion is wrong.
Because you have convinced yourself that your existence depends on you being liked, and validated by the people you have surrounded yourself with, you get back in line.
“I exist to please you.”
That’s until you go to therapy (in my case) and you realise that even with all the bending backwards to accommodate everyone else, people still left. People were still mean.
While you thought you being agreeable was protecting you, it was actually a different form of harm.
People will do what they want to do regardless of what you do or don’t do.
A bitter pill to swallow, but it is the truth.
Of course, by you allowing yourself to be a doormat, you are definitely making their lives easier because they never have to consider you in any real way. Ultimately, though, people just do whatever they want to do.
So, the betrayal of yourself is really just you robbing yourself of a beautiful life experience.
I had to grieve the years I spent putting myself last and all the harm that did and then forgive myself.
I then had to start setting boundaries.
That was a hike I was not ready for!
But I was not going to backtrack either.
Learning to trust that who I am, just as I am, is enough and awesome and you can either take me or leave me, was destabilising, to say the least — all in the best ways.
To trust that I can present my true self and that someone will still want to know me and be in my presence was crazy to me.
But, I was ready and willing to do it. What I had been doing hasn’t been working.
“Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of madness.”
I was a lot of things — mad was not one of them.
Next came learning to say, “No!” And not feel like the world would come to an end if I did not give this long explanation or excuse that served the purpose of making the other person feel better.
People-pleasers thrive on saying yes!
That was and still is a mind shift. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
And then learning to ask for what I want without feeling like my skin is crawling.
There are steps to undoing this, hun.
It’s a process; not a thing you can wave a magic wand and “Taadaa! You no longer care about what anyone thinks about you.”
I, however, have never been happier!
Choosing myself, using my voice, showing up as me, saying no, and asking for what I want. All the things.
It’s happier because now I know if you are on my team, it’s because you actually like me and want to be there. I am not out here doing tricks for you to stick around.
Advocating for myself is sexy to me. It makes me light up and feel all these warm, fuzzy feelings.
It really is one of the best gifts I gave to myself. One you can give yourself too.
It starts with you believing that you are enough, just as you are.
Don’t even try to do anything else before you wrap your reality around that. The belief you are enough ends up becoming your anchor and protection when people try to challenge you.
You see if you don’t need my approval to exist, then whether I like you or not, is a non-issue. Period.
You take away my power and now you create a safe space for you to build the other pillars to move you out of “people-pleasing-ville”
Try it and let me know how it works out.