My friend and I were chatting as we walked. One of the things that came up was how coaching helps me ditch my inner people pleaser. People pleasing is a common trait among many individuals, and while it may seem like a positive attribute, it can have negative consequences in the long run.
I am a recovering people pleaser. It shows up for me as prioritising the needs and wants of others over my own, which leads to a lack of self-care and self-fulfilment.
How coaching helps me ditch my inner people-pleaser
With help, I am learning to set boundaries, prioritise myself and find a healthy balance between giving to others and taking care of myself.
For me, this is practical things like:
- Saying no to requests that aren’t aligned with my values/goals
- Setting limits on the amount of time and energy I gave to others
- Prioritising my own mental and physical health in order to prevent myself from burning out
I work on self-reflection through journaling and take tiny steps to recognise and prioritise my own needs, whilst still being there for the people I love. Additionally, I work on my strengths so I can see where I add value, which in turn builds my confidence.
Understanding why people want to please others
But there is also deeper work. I work with my coach to identify the root cause of my people-pleasing tendencies. I used to be scared of rejection (very common and normal); I was searching for approval and I was struggling to see my worth. This isn’t an easy fix, nor is it over, this will be a lifelong journey!
We work on my understanding of what worth is and how there is no scale of worth - no one measures you up and deems you more/less worthy than someone else. Our worth is innate and is nothing to do with what other people think about us (again, something I am still working on!)
One of the biggest lightbulbs for me was something Steve Chandler said in an audio recording I listened to:
“If we assign causation outside of us, then we aren’t even our own person any more. We could melt down at any moment on the basis of what someone has said to us. We lose our sense of self because we’re attributing causation - allowing what people think and say about us to control how we feel about ourselves. Therefore losing our innate self-worth.”
As I discussed my own experience of this, my coach asked me - how have you created/promoted/allowed this? That was a bloody uncomfortable truth!
Handling our own people-pleasing mindset
Steve also said,
“We aren’t being true to ourselves when we people-please. In the name of being valuable to other people and not being true to oneself.”
The truth is, we are more effective when we don’t care what others think of us. When we believe that the only way to get through life is to be stressed/exhausted, then we are in people-pleasing mode. This approach is unsustainable because it leads to burnout and poor relationships. It leads to resentment of our career and the opportunities we have been given/sought. Then we blame and fall into that victim mindset.
When we handle our own people-pleasing mindset, we can make a bigger difference. We don’t have to please everyone, we can do so with grace and authenticity in a way that’s neutral, powerful and empowering.
People-pleasing means quitting on ourselves
The other thing about people pleasing is that we quit on ourselves. We de-prioritise our own growth, needs and desires in order to put someone else above us. That’s what people pleasing is - believing that others are better than us and so not fighting for ourselves. We find ourselves worrying about what others think or feeling guilty for not doing enough!
(As a coach, I am coaching my clients to honour themselves and their own wants and needs by calling them out with love and getting them to see what they are doing. I am encouraging them to ditch their own inner people-pleaser)
My coach and I work on creating a strategy for noticing those feelings and sitting with them. I use mindful meditation to help me stay grounded, present and connected to my own needs.
Stopping people-pleasing behaviour
Ditching your inner people-pleaser can be a challenging process, but it is possible with some intentional effort and self-reflection. Here are some steps you can take:
- Recognize the problem: Acknowledge that you have a people-pleasing tendency and that it may be causing you stress and anxiety. Be honest with yourself about why you feel the need to please others.
- Identify your values: Take some time to identify your own values and priorities. What is important to you? What do you want to achieve in your life? When you have a clear sense of your own values, it will be easier to make decisions that align with them.
- Set boundaries: Learn to say no to requests or demands that conflict with your values or priorities. Set limits on what you are willing to do for others and be assertive in communicating your boundaries.
- Practice self-care: Take care of your own physical, emotional, and mental health. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
- Learn to handle criticism: Understand that not everyone will agree with you or be pleased with your choices. Learn to handle criticism constructively, and don't let it undermine your sense of self-worth.
- Seek support: Surround yourself with people who support your goals and values. Share your struggles with trusted friends or family members, or consider seeking the help of a therapist or coach.
Ultimately, coaching helps me find a healthy balance between caring for others and caring for myself. By setting boundaries, building self-confidence, and managing my emotions and stress, people pleasers like me can break free from the cycle of over-giving and find fulfilment in our own lives.
Remember, stopping people-pleasing is a process, and it may take time to change deeply ingrained habits. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small successes along the way.