Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reflection Exercise: Are You a People-Pleaser?

In my quest to reduce emotional clutter in my life and make the best use of my energy, I'm always looking to eliminate patterns and habits that are counterproductive to this goal.

In other words, I gotta get rid of some of this baggage, in order to make the most of my journey. Make sense?  To that end, this post is targeting one of my bad habits: People-Pleasing.

Many of us complain of being too busy or being pulled in too many different directions. Sound familiar? Often, if we really took a closer look, we'd find that many of the things we do are because we just didn't want to say no. Or perhaps your calendar is full of your own responsibilities but you don't want to ask for help because you don't want people to think you can't handle it all.

Truthfully ask yourself: Do you always say what's on your mind? Do you ask for what you really want? Do you let people's opinions change your behavior? Your decisions?

For me, the answer to all of these questions is SOMETIMES. And I'm not comfortable with that. It's great to be considerate of other people's feelings but to the extent that you deny your own volition - now, that's a problem.

Here's what I know about abusive people-pleasing:

*When your actions are based on what you want other people to think about you, you're not being true to yourself. Furthermore, you're putting unnecessary strain on yourself.

*No matter what you do, you simply cannot please everyone.

*Seeking to please yourself and do what's best for you is not selfish.

Saying no when you mean yes and yes when you mean no is not only misleading to others, but it also causes a build up of resentment inside of you. This resentment drains energy that could be used more productively.

A big part of what's created this pattern for me is my need to make everyone feel comfortable. I always feel overly responsible for how everyone around me is feeling. By nature, I care more about relationships than I do tasks and responsibilties. So my preoccupation with making sure everyone is happy makes sense to me. The only problem is, when I put everyone's feelings before my own, I end up feeling miserable. Fortunately, I've become passionate about having a peaceful mind and feeling content within myself, so I recognize this conditioned pattern and I'm changing it.

If you want to simplify and enjoy your life more, take some time to consider if this habit is having a negative effect on you. First, identify it, then see what you can do to change this behavior.

Here are some tips:

*Saying no can be difficult, but remember that often it's not what you say but how you say it.

*Likewise, asking for help is often difficult, but for that very reason it's more a sign of strength and awareness than a sign of weakness.

*Speaking of awareness, make logical and realistic decisions about how you spend your time and energy. Don't overextend yourself in order to please others.

*Remember there's a time and place for everything. Be honest about how you feel, but choose your battles wisely.

Don't worry that people will stop liking you or misunderstand your intentions. You must first accept your reality in order for others to accept it. If your goal is do to everything with love and sincerity, then you must clearly articulate your true feelings.


NinaG said...

I just finished watching Love & Hip Hop (don't judge me) and this is how I felt Olivia was during the show, a people pleaser, and unfortunately this is how I related to her.
You make a good point about choosing battles wisely. When I do decide to be honest sometimes I take it to the extreme.
This is a good reflection exercise.

GG said...

LOL, I can't judge. That's one of my "smut" shows that I still like to indulge in occasionally. It must be very eye opening (at least I hope so) for her to see herself sort of twisting her words depending on who she's talking to. it's something we all slip into occasionally. We can't be afraid to be honest with our friends, especially. if the friendship is strong, it will survive and become better because we kept it real.

Jess said...

To sounds like the problem isn't (really) people pleasing--that again makes it about the other person. This is about you. Its about learning to sit with discomfort. Learning to hold yourself together in what feels like chaos and not sacrifice yourself to fix it. People pleasing is really an inability to stay centered in the present. Trust me, I think we all know this work to some extent. Happy journey :-)

GG said...

"Its about learning to sit with discomfort. Learning to hold yourself together in what feels like chaos and not sacrifice yourself to fix it." - Jess, thanks as usual for giving me additional perspective and more insight for my journal...

MerelyMarie said...

Loved this!!! Saying "No" does feel discomforting at times, but I realize how pleased I am with myself for not saying "Yes" to things I either don't want to do, or can't do.

GG said...

Yes, I know, Marie! Between you and Jess bringing up this idea of "discomfort" is really enlightening me. My perception has always been that I'm trying to make others feel comfortable, when really I'm trying to make myself feel comfortable. I really don't think I ever thought of it that way. EYE OPENING.

Alexis said...

This post definitely resonates with me. I have been a people-pleaser all my life, and in the last few years I have been working on these very principles to rid myself of those bad habits. You gave some great tips that I find I have to constantly work on. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Great Post! Right on time!

Anonymous said...

Great post, I think it is part of a growing acceptance of yourself when you can refrain from toatlly pleasing others. Personally I did that in my adult life because I was just an akward child nervous in my own skin always worried about how ohters perceived me... overtime the skin has become more comfortable but not entirely so I slip into habits that mirror some of my elder insecurities

Danielle Navonne said...

Im late to this post, but LOVE IT! That saying NO thing changed my life!! :-)

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