I have been a people pleaser for most of my life. It has meant that I have done things and been things that I’m not proud of in an effort to receive validation and attention from others. For years I got involved in things I didn’t need to, or put huge effort into people that didn’t care about me to fill the ‘void’ and feel that I was seen and needed. I was subservient in my relationships to gain approval from them. Its wasn’t long before the relationship ended and I was alone feeling rejected and used. I masked my people pleasing by coming across as a generous and caring person but as I reflect honestly on it my heart motivation was not from a place of generosity it was from a place of lack and hurt and it made me feel better about myself. I was a ‘wounded healer’, trying to bring healing to others and not experiencing it myself. Can you identify with what I’m saying?
Years later, countless sessions of therapy for myself, heaps of forgiveness towards others and a determination to be the best version of me and I can truly say that I am whole and healed. Its not that I have arrived but I continue to forgive when I have been hurt and ask for forgiveness when I have hurt others, I continue to review how I could do things better and I always check my motivation for doing something- a place of generosity or my own need?
People pleasers are motivated by a strong desire for approval and external validation. Often insecure, they look to other people’s opinions and ideas to make decisions rather than on their own. People pleasers find it hard to say ‘no’ and if they do will often feel bad and regret their decision or go back on it just to get a better reaction from others. They are often double minded and can rarely make their mind up and even upon making a decision doubt whether it’s the right one. People pleasing greatly affects a person’s relationships and the quality of them. Strong and opinionated people enjoy having people pleasures around as they get their way, however the relationship is not able to be built on trust, respect and individual strength.
Long term the people pleasers rarely have their own needs met as they are so busy nourishing and building up others. I heard it put brilliantly in relation to airline oxygen masks. You know how they say ‘before helping anyone else put on their oxygen mask, put on your own.’ This is so we don’t run out of oxygen while attempting to help others. If we move this to the emotional aspect of our lives, then attending to others without first ourselves we will run out of what is critical to maintain emotional or mental wellbeing.
So if in reading this you realise that it might just be that you have been people pleasing and masking it as being a generous person please take a breath and don’t be hard on yourself. What you have been doing for others is great, however its time to gain some healing for yourself. The first part of any challenge is recognizing it. You cant change what you don’t know needs fixing. Whether its stemmed from a traumatic upbringing, a string toxic relationships or abuse im excited to tell you that if you want to put a bit of work in there is some awesome change coming your way.
You may want to look up some sites on people pleasing, read a book from a trusted source and enter into counselling. It will take some practice to get out of old habits of people pleasing but its so worth it.