People-Pleasing: The Struggle is Real
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
People-pleasing has been a lifelong habit of mine. For as long as I can remember, I have put the needs, wants, and expectations of others in front of everything else. I used to think I was just a helpful, kind person; that my desire to help others was a selfless act. I believed that I was being a good friend/family member/girlfriend, etc., but in all reality, my “compassionate”, “selfless” behavior comes from an unhealthy place of co-dependence, selfishness, and low self-worth.
Every once in a while, I will try to fool myself into thinking that my behavior is just that of a kindhearted and sympathetic person, but I am missing a key component in my consideration and kindness: myself. A healthy, compassionate person gives from a place of abundance, taking their own needs and feelings into consideration, treating themselves as equally important as the other people in their life. They don’t feel that pleasing others is their obligation (as I feel on a daily basis).
The people-pleasing behaviors have wreaked havoc on my self-esteem. I have severe anxiety of saying “no”. I am fearful that I will not be loved or accepted or that I am disappointing or letting down the people that I care about. I also worry that I will no longer be included or fit in because I am no longer “useful”. I engage in negative self-talk and tell myself these things almost daily… and then get frustrated or mad when I am not getting the positive feedback and praise that I so desperately desire. The worst part is, I have been doing this to myself. No one requires this of me nor do they tell me it’s what they expect. It’s the standard that I set, the measuring stick of my self-worth.
My selfish, people-pleasing ways have never served me and I am finally ready to try to let go of them. I am addicted to the behavior, so I know this is going to be a long, difficult process, but in the end, valuing myself and serving others because “my cup runneth over” will be such a positive change.
The first step for me is to start saying “no” to things that I feel will burn me out, knowing that I always have a choice and no one will like me less because of it. I also need to remind myself that my needs are just as valid, worthy, and important as everyone else’s.
“As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are. What others say is irrelevant.” –Nic Sheff