In every workplace and friendship circle, there’s often that one person who makes a habit of putting everyone else’s needs and wants before their own; and is often identified as a people pleaser. Generous as that sounds, there’s a downside. This urge can begin to outweigh one’s own happiness, value and self-respect.
For instance, if someone in their orbit is unhappy, a people-pleaser might immediately scrutinize what they’ve done “wrong” to cause it; when, in reality, it has nothing to do with their actions. A people-pleaser tends to be in a constant state of self judgement of themselves for not being able to do enough for others.
I’ve found that people who exhibit people-pleasing tendencies are usually highly sensitive people; and in many instances, their behaviour has origins in their childhood. I’ve asked people, “How many of you had tried to make your parents happy?”, and pretty much everybody raises their hand. Then I ask, “How many of you failed at it?”, and pretty much everybody raises their hand. So we start really young by trying to make our parents happy, and it doesn’t work. And then this gets carried into our life and living.
Here are three tips for stopping your people-pleasing ways:
1. Ask Yourself: Can I truly make this person happy?
Ask yourself: Have I ever been truly able to make this person happy, and is cutting off my arms and my legs and my happiness really going to make them happy? Or will they require more of me tomorrow?
Also ask yourself: What else could I do that would make a difference in their world, other than doing everything for them and making myself small in the process? What else could I do in my world, so I don’t have to make my world about them being happy in order for me to be happy?
2. Ask Yourself: What would truly make me happy?
It’s not a surface question, even though it can seem like it.
In a people-pleaser’s world, there is an inherent idea that, ‘If I could just make enough people happy, then I can be happy too.’ And if they can get underneath that to ‘What would truly make me happy?’, they start to look at the world from a different place.
It’s great to examine this question in relation to people in your life that you always find yourself trying to please. In this situation, it’s great to ask: ‘What would make me happy, in regards to them? And what else can I choose, in regards to them, that would create happiness for me?’
3. Realize that we teach people how to treat us by how we are with them.
Perhaps the ultimate incentive to stop the urge to always please others is realizing that our behaviour towards others tends to shape how they treat us. I’ve seen people who were having very little happiness in their own lives and were trying to always give, give, give and make other people’s life better, but their life was not getting better. After they started looking at what would make them happy, they started showing up differently – and now these people that were only ever taking from them, actually started contributing to them too.
What else is possible as we ask these questions? And what would that be like to discover what would truly make us happy?
P.S. For even more fun tools, tips, and adventures with being you and discovering what else is possible, I invite you to my next Being You Class in Mexico City! I’m so excited! I would love to have you there in person, or joining with audio live. How does it get any better than that?
P.S. And for the full article in the online publication Honey, please go here.