In January 2019 I published my first ever blog post on my website titled #Recovering People Pleaser. I wrote this blog after noticing how depleted I felt after trying to manage my roles. Those roles included a therapist, business owner, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and I had just survived my first year of parenting during this time. I set my intentions after writing that post to start being mindful how I managed my energy instead of my time. It’s been 3 years since I made the decision to begin recovering from people pleasing tendencies. This is what I’ve learned through my journey.
Be Willing to Know Your Path
It is easy to get caught up in your feelings if you don’t know your path. One of my love languages is quality time and I thrive on inclusion. Because of this, one of my strengths is to bring people together, as well as being an easy person to talk to. I always educate my clients that strengths can be weaknesses, and weaknesses can be strengths. We have to find the balance of the two to create that flow where you can connect with others, and continue to connect with yourself. All or nothing thinking is a child’s way of thinking. As a recovering people pleaser, whenever I felt triggered by being left out I had to remind myself that I would feel depleted and not of much use to anyone if I was always included in everything. This was heightened after the birth of my second daughter in 2020. If we know our path, we can easily manage our anxiety and stop automatic thoughts that lead to disconnection. Having the ability to connect with yourself gives you the best chance to sustain the connections around you.
Willing to Be Okay with Being the Bad Guy
I had to be willing to be okay to be seen in a poor light through other’s lenses. One of the reason’s people engage in people pleasing is to control people’s perceptions of themselves. This happens when you have grown up in a home where other people’s perception of the family was put first before the needs of each individual in the family. I learned that people will judge you based off the narrative they already have of you. I recently finished Will Smith’s book called Will and in his book he talks about his people pleasing tendencies. He writes “as long as you are twisting and contorting and selling yourself out for the affection of others, you will always be untrustworthy”.
When I began setting boundaries, I noticed that people will react to your boundary settings based on their attachment style. Those who have insecure attachment tend to look at boundaries as rejection or abandonment. So when interacting with someone with an insecure attachment style you will be treated with guilt trips, silent treatment, gas lighting, etc. This is a protective factor for them, and the best thing you can do is not personalize their actions. They are having a hard time, and they are responsible for managing their feelings. Those who have secure attachment style will look at boundaries as necessary for the sustainability of the relationship. People have the right to react the way they do, and we do not have to base our decisions off their reactions.
Be Willing to Abandon the Scarcity Mindset
I could not thrive until I abandoned the scarcity mindset. When you engage in the scarcity mindset your thoughts and actions stem from a place of fear. An analogy I like to use in my practice is making decisions as if a tiger was outside my door. People often based their decisions off of fear instead of just feeling scared. The difference with fear is that it is based off of life or death. Making every decision as life or death will keep you in your sympathetic nervous system for too long. It is okay to feel scared. It helps us recognize what we need to feel safe. When we feel scared we know we have the opportunity to move forward. When we feel safe and grounded we are willing to take risks. When you engage in the scarcity mindset you FEAR there will not be another time when this opportunity will arise. So you end up saying “yes” before thinking about what you have to sacrifice when you make a commitment to others. When you develop the abundance mindset it gives you the ability to reframe the new space as opportunity rather than lack.
Be Willing to Create Choices
I learned the value of creating choices in my recovery. A few months ago I read a life changing memoir called “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger who is a psychologist and Holocaust survivor. She writes in her book “if you give up the authority of your own choices, then you are agreeing to be a victim and a prisoner.” When I engaged in people pleasing I gave my ability to choose to others. I continue to practice not using the victim mindset to meet my needs. When you create choices for yourself you will get one step closer to your goals. The secret is to know that choices are not always going to be a comfortable choice, but they are still choices. When you create choice, you create flexibility. With flexibility you are able to pivot when life throws you curveballs.
I have learned so much and will continue evolving as I shed layers in my people pleasing recovery. I had to be brave and look at the not so great parts of myself. To share this with the world releases that shame for others’ approval. I will leave you with this quote by Dr. Edith Eva Eger “It’s our responsibility to act in service of our authentic selves. Sometimes this means giving up our need for others approval.”