"If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you've already forgotten your worth." ~ anonymous
I recently discovered that I'm a...
*drum roll please*
Are you surprised? (I'm not, either.)
This entire summer has been beautifully bizarre in that I've learned so much about myself and my relationships. I've also come to discover my seemingly inability to say "no" to others, in turn ignoring my own needs and accidentally harming those closest to me.
When I let go of two of the closest people in my life earlier this summer, it seemed as though everyone rushed into my life, eager for my attention. And I couldn't have been more grateful! It seemed as though I finally had friends, true friends, and so many people expressed love and admiration toward me. My nights, and mornings, and weekends, were spent out with friends, meeting new people, strengthening relationships, and well, enjoying summer! Maybe it's just me, but I've come to realize that once we let go of those we no longer need, our true desires race into our lives, big and bold and beaming with light.
However, with this came an entirely new array of challenges. My people-pleaser tendencies bloomed alive, and from them I felt overstretched, overworked, and burnt out. There were a few times when I'd cry over the idea of having to leave the house to do something fun because I was just so tired, and all I wanted to do was curl up and read a book, drink some tea, and fall asleep. The fact is, I didn't have to say "yes", but I did, because I felt bad for saying "no" to anyone in fear that they wouldn't like me anymore. I would be emotionally available to everyone in my life, because I would hope to expect that in return. I felt like life was constantly moving at the speed of light, and yet, I did nothing to resolve this.
Do you know what's funny about this? Trying to make everyone like me in turn actually made people dislike me! I would overlap plans, tune out during conversation, never being fully present in group settings, and consistently run late. Therefore, the people I was trying so hard to please began expressing annoyance, which made me slip deeper into my fear-based tendencies. I suggest listening to this episode of The Mindful Kind for more on this topic.
I've come to learn that it's quite impossible to make everyone happy. And by trying to make others happy, you fail to make yourself happy.
In time, I realized how far I had drifted form myself and my own needs. I've now been incorporating small tips in my daily life, taking baby steps toward a stronger, more authentic and confident version of myself, beyond fear. I still have a ways to go, but simply acknowledging these people-pleaser habits of mine has already helped me tremendously.
Below are the few things I have done to finally tap into my self-worth and overcome this "overly kind and understanding" persona so that I can live slower, more genuinely, and finally free myself from the past, which possibly influenced these behaviors.
1) Identify the fear behind people-pleasing
I've always struggled with the fear of people abandoning me. Perhaps this is due to not-so-good men leaving me in the past, or having unreliable friends growing up, or so on. Whatever the case, those childhood occurrences have bled into my adult years, resulting in me worrying about others leaving me. If I'm nice to them, and say "yes", they'll never be mad, hence never leave me, right?
By saying "yes", not only do I tend to accidentally make decisions that result in people being upset with me, but I find that in some situations, I get walked over, or "used", and the person, once finished with me, leaves me anyway. I've had to really learn when others are being genuine, or being friends with me solely for their own personal gain.
Therefore, people-pleasing doesn't keep people in our lives. And if it does, it will probably keep the wrong people--the people that learn it's okay to walk all over you.
Whatever your fear is, it's so important to recognize it. After doing so, you can work through it by falsifying it, as I did, and then working to release it by healing through the past, or whatever summoned the fear in the first place. The step that follows this is undoubtedly to...
2) Work on your self-confidence.
Most often people-pleasing stems back from our own insecurities. We believe others won't like us as we are, as we come, so we much chameleon ourselves, and act overly kind, to fit in. Furthermore, people-pleasers often avoid acting or being confident to avoid offending others, or making others feel bad about themselves.
Whatever you need to incorporate, whether it be body-confidence, self-compassion, or acceptance of your self, as you come, make it a priority in this time. Trust in the fact that you are wonderful, immaculate, exactly as you are. And, if you're unsure of who you are? I can assure you that releasing people-pleasing tendencies will help uncover your true, clear self. You can also make time to...
3) Spend more time by yourself.
They say you can't fully love others until you fully love yourself, and perhaps, if you don't love yourself fully for whatever reason, it's because you don't know who you truly are. You're so wrapped-up in appealing others that you have forgotten your own hobbies, likes, and wants.
I suggest picking up a hobby just for you, such as reading, crafting, running, or anything else that makes you happy and that you can use as an excuse to hang out with yourself!
If you're avoiding this because of a fear of loneliness, or a fear of missing out (another cause of people-pleasing), then check out this post on overcoming loneliness.
4) Actually listen to your feelings.
My therapist told me something that sunk deep and lingered there.
"People-pleasers often manipulate themselves more than others manipulate them."
Sometimes it's easy to blame others for our busyness, or inability to tear down our walls, but most of the time? It's us, due to the failure of listening to our own feelings. Recently, I've caught myself trying to suppress anger, irritation, fatigue, and so on, empathizing with the other person to avoid any conflict, such as making them angry. A bit ago, when I was canceled on unexpectedly, I found myself eager to forgive because I understand that life gets busy. But, the more I tuned into my emotions, felt the swell of anger there, I knew I didn't want to forgive right away. And I didn't. My gosh, did it feel empowering, to accept the fact that I was mad and understand that that's okay, to feel mad.
But, it is still a little scary. Which leads me to my next tip....
5) Don't be afraid of a lil' conflict.
While I appreciate honesty and heart-to-hearts, I also occasionally notice myself steering away from conflict whenever possible. If someone makes me upset, I "ignore it", or if someone needs me, I'll put their needs first so that I'm not being "rude". However, this, as I've learned, is not the way to go about life. Then again, when we do finally learn to stop being overly forgiving and understanding, we might stir up some confusion and possibly conflict, hence why we probably avoid dropping these tendencies at all costs.
Just an FYI: I'm not saying to be rude or not be there for friends. However, if others are angry at us for abiding by our own rules and needs, or don't respect our feelings, or are overly upset when we say "no" once or twice, then perhaps they are not the people we need in our lives. Life gets busy, and this is okay! Others should understand that, as we can understand that in them.
6) Put yourself first.
This includes saying "no" when you want to, cutting out people who no longer serve you, not responding to someone if you don't want to, setting boundaries, not being emotionally available to everyone, prioritizing certain people or hobbies that make you happiest, and tuning into your own needs over others. Once again, I'm not suggesting to go off and be an awful friend, but guess what? You can be a kind person without having to be a "good" friend to everyone! (Shocking, right?)
What's ironic is that while writing this post, I feel bad. I do. Bad about putting my needs first, possibly hurting others, and offending others by being too confident or talking of myself highly (yes, I often put myself down to make others feel better). This just goes to prove that I have a long ways to go, I suppose!
I hope that, if you experience any of the same feelings as I do, this post has helped you, sincerely. It's quite frightening, to take those steps toward releasing people-pleasing tendencies, but I can assure you, it'll feel so empowering, so freeing. I know that at least for me, it already has.
Here's to new beginnings, and stronger selves,