Is People-Pleasing Really So Bad?

Everyone is taught to people-please. We learn to belong by keeping the rules of belonging in our families and groups we choose to be part of. We learn to please others to get our needs met. We all want to belong and belonging is important to our survival.

People-pleasing becomes dangerous when we learn to abandon ourselves to belong. Often, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Women especially are taught that our value is in our relationships and most of us are terrified of losing relationships, so we continue with unhealthy people-pleasing that creates a distorted view of happiness, limits our potential to thrive, and slowly chips away at our health and wellbeing. I’ve talked with dozens of women who share this fear, and I have experienced it in my own life.

True belonging does not require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.

~Brené Brown / Braving the Wilderness

People-pleasing is sneaky, often invisible and hard to recognize.

For starters, it’s familiar even if it’s painful. Our brains love comfort and familiarity.

Secondly, people-pleasing can look like a lot of other things such as:

  • Perfectionism
  • Overwhelm
  • Burnout and exhaustion
  • Stress and anxiety

Many of us have been trained to self-abandon, to put others needs ahead of our own, and would sooner risk our health and wellbeing than risk putting ourselves first and taking care of what we want, need, and quite frankly deserve.

Some signs you self-abandon

  • You want recognition for doing so much for others. The “what about me” problem.
  • You are usually overcommitted
  • You pressure yourself to do things that you don’t want to do
  • You go against your own values
  • You think it’s selfish to do something “unproductive” for yourself
  • You walk on eggshells to preserve relationships

I’ve done all of these things. I was taught to wear self-sacrifice as a badge of honor. It’s what made me a “good” person. Here’s the problem with that. Putting everyone else’s needs first, burning yourself out, draining your resources and neglecting yourself then trying to help from that depleted place is really not helping anyone. Least of all you!!

Imagine a beautiful home. Freshly painted, clean, bright, welcoming and happy. Now, imagine that same home left abandoned. People walking in and out freely, leaving their mess behind, taking whatever they please as they come and go without a care for the home itself. Eventually it goes to ruin. Now, imagine this is your home, YOUR LIFE.

Would you want to close the doors? Take time to repair, restore, and regenerate the vibrancy of this home? Create a lovely inner space for yourself to dwell, rest, be, create, and thrive. Eventually, you open the doors and invite in guests. You are mindful of who enters, the energy they carry, and how they treat your home.

You can even choose to keep all visitors out. If you want to. You might, for a while…so you can have the time and space to do what’s necessary to breathe life back into it. Eventually you open the doors to those you choose to invite in. No hard feelings towards anyone else…just love and care for yourself, your life.

It’s easy to imagine this blight on a house, a physical building, but when it comes to ourselves, we are often willing to neglect what we need, diminish our worth, and sacrifice ourselves for the “shoulds” and expectations of others.

Take a moment and imagine this house is your life. Where are you allowing others to walk in and out as they please, taking what they want, leaving their waste behind for you?

What is it worth to you to reclaim your life? To belong to yourself, first. To release the pressure to perform for the likes of others and do those things you’ve been wishing for?

I know how challenging it can be to break the cycle of  self-abandonment that’s been instilled in you since…well, forever. I also know it’s possible to move beyond these limitations and step into more authentic ways of being, to express yourself as boldly as you desire, and still be a “good” human.

Unraveling the need to please begins with self-acceptance. A deep knowing that there is nothing wrong with you. There never has been. Redefining what it means for you to be a good human. The importance of being good to yourself. You are a badass woman who has been holding up expectations for the world that are both unrealistic and in many cases don’t even belong to you. Are you ready to let that shit go?

It’s impossible to please others first and create more success, freedom, joy, and fulfillment in your life. You deserve that.
You’ll also have to accept that you might be a disappointment to others…it’s the only way to stop disappointing yourself.

With love,

The Key is in Your Pocket – let’s unlock the door to the success (and life) you dream of!

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