Are you a people pleaser? Do you put others wants, needs and desires ahead of your own? Do you make decisions based on what other people may think or what they may want? Do their opinions matter so much that they can influence your emotions? Make you feel “less than”?

Whether this happens in your personal life or professional life, people pleasing is one of the biggest habits that holds you back from getting what you want. Don’t feel bad if this is you, however, it’s been a long road getting here and it’s going to take some time and effort to get your brain retrained to think differently.
Here’s what I learned about people pleasing:

  • Consider our role through the ages. When you think about it, for centuries in our history, women were property. They had no personal property nor were they allowed to have any. Women, until the early 20th century were not even allowed to vote. Women for an extended period of time were dependent on others for their livelihood. People pleasing has been in the DNA for a while.
  • The “Good Girl” Syndrome. When you were little you were told to be a “good girl” and you made efforts to make the adults in your life happy and you got rewarded when you did. You had teachers that told you how your work was to be done and you had to conform to how they wanted you to learn. You’ve been doing “people pleasing” since an early age.
  • People Pleasers need outside validation. People pleasers sense of what they should or shouldn’t do comes from how others perceive them or their actions. What will they think of this? What will they think of me? If I do this, it will make them happy.
  • People Pleasing can actually make you sick. If you’re consistently pleasing others over your own desires and choices that means you’ve given YOUR own power away. You’re moving away from who YOU are. This has consequences and can cause stress and anxiety, eventually showing up as “dis-ease” in your body.
  • Women are the caregivers and nurturer’s. It’s usually our job to make sure that others are taken care of. We’re good at it, right? We understand community and what it takes for communities to thrive, which involves people getting along. Oftentimes, you use yourself as the bridge for how that happens though.
  • Being Kind vs. Being a People Pleaser.  There may be times that you agree to someone else’s preference because it is the polite thing to do. There’s a difference though between an occasional case of being polite vs. the perpetual people pleasing that undermines your confidence, however.

How can you part ways with People Pleasing? Here are 7 steps to start the job!

  1. Know your values. You need to know what is most important to you in life. There are some things that are acceptable and some that are not. Where is the line in the sand? If there isn’t one, you discover it by exploring your values. In any area of life ask yourself what is most important to you? For example, in a friendship, if it is most important that there is mutual support, confidentiality, loyalty, respect and you have a friend that continually takes up enormous amounts of time with her latest drama because she “knows you’ll always be there” is your value being compromised? If she is never around to support you and it’s always about her are your values being supported in the friendship? When you take the time to explore what is truly important to you in any area of life you can make easier decision about what you will and will not do. You’ve got to have a real good idea of what that is first!
  2. Know your boundaries. Once you know your values and what is most important to you in any area of life, the decision to honor your values (or not) comes with enforcing your boundaries in a healthy way.  If you have a friend that is “sucking the life out of you” then you can minimize it. “I can meet you at noon for lunch but then I have to go at one.” Make sure you stick to it! Maybe you realize that she really isn’t a friend after all and you decide that she isn’t worth your time and energy.
  3. Know your priorities. You’re a busy woman and it really helps to get clear on what your priorities are. Who or what is most important to you? Where do you need to be spending your time? Having a solid sense of your priorities will make it easier to make choices about how you use your time. Time is precious, use it wisely.
  4. Zip it. When you give your decision – you Zip It! Close your mouth, take a breath, don’t say another word.  Let the silence be awkward for the other person, get comfortable with the quietness you exude after telling it like it is for you. You’ve made your decision for a reason, you have no obligation to explain.
  5. The issue is theirs. If you can’t spend the four hours it will take to hear the latest drama of your friend and you’ve only got an hour, whatever reaction that comes from her, it just that – it’s hers. When you start making decisions based on your values, your priorities – from who you are inside at your core, people might not like it. That reaction is theirs to carry – don’t even pick it up!
  6. Happiness is a personal responsibility. Happiness does not come from someone else or something else. People and things don’t make you happy, you make you happy. Happiness is internal to you. Therefore, it is internal to whomever you are trying to please. It’s not your job – it’s theirs.
  7. Baby Steps. Like I said, you’ve been doing this for a long time and it will take some time to correct. Put your focus on what brings YOU happiness while paying attention to what you know is important and a priority for you.  Instead of being a people pleaser to everyone, maybe it’s just about the people most important to you.  Find small ways to start pulling your power back to you instead of supplying it to everyone else. Guaranteed they don’t appreciate it as much as they should.

Incorporate just one of the steps and get comfortable with it. Notice how this starts affecting your own happiness. Grab another step when you’re ready and soon you’ll be on a roll. It’s not about being selfish, it’s about being considerate of yourself. It’s self care and you deserve it!

I’d love to hear which tip you’re going to implement by replying to this email.

Until next time, here’s wishing you the clarity you deserve!