Welcome, you beautiful people pleaser! I want you to take a deep breath, settle into your body, your greatest resource.
And let’s now take a deep dive into people pleasing together.
The very first thing I want to share with you is this: there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with people pleasing.
All it is, is a tool, a strategy, to get one of your needs fulfilled.
If you choose, you can dismantle it, specifically when you can sense that it is hurting you more than it is contributing to your life.
The Definition of People Pleasing
People pleasing is the tendency, habit and behavior of:
- Saying yes when you mean no
- Giving more than you would like (over-giving), including help, support and gifts
- Saying things you don’t mean in order to please someone else
- Helping when you are not being asked to do so
- Savorism: saving people and rescuing them without being asked to
- Over-responsibility: constantly thinking about how what you say and do makes other people feel, and stopping yourself from doing and saying certain things you’d like to express because of how others would react
The major paradox with people pleasing is this:
People pleasing is an experience of self-abandonment that happens out of a deep fear of abandonment.
What I mean by this is that when you aim to please others, you are doing so out of a deep belief that if you do not, you will be rejected and abandoned by them.
At the same time, when you people please, you abandon yourself: you let go of your own needs, boundaries, and desires.
Let’s break down people pleasing even further…
The Origins of People Pleasing
As a coach, I work with my clients on 5 levels, and so I will break down people pleasing for you on these 5 very helpful levels:
People pleasing is a belief that if only I help someone else and please them, they’ll approve of me.
This may be a subconscious or even unconscious belief, but it’s definitely there.
Deep in your unconscious, there is a deep need for love and approval, and a fear of abandonment and rejection.
For empaths who often take on others’ feelings around them, there is a fear that if you do not people please, people will get angry at you, and you will take on this harsh energy and be stuck with it.
4. Somatically (a felt sense in your body)
People pleasing is the felt experience of moving out of your body.
Imagine for a moment how it feels like in your actual body when you people please: I imagine myself moving my whole body forward. It is a feeling of abandonment of your own body and boundaries. It feels very unsafe.
The behavior of saying no when you mean yes, of helping others when they do not ask you to, of leaving and abandoning your own body, needs and desires for someone else.
Powerful Tools for Healing People Pleasing
People pleasing is not a disease. It’s a strategy for us to get love, and it comes from childhood, when we learned that the only way to get love from adults in our lives was by doing what they wanted, not showing emotion, and abandoning our own desires and needs.
Healing this is awakening to your own truth. It means standing authentically for who you are, trusting your body and your voice.
Healing this is beyond powerful, and it is a process of finding yourself.
Remember that this empowering process is not about transforming into someone you’re not. It’s exactly the opposite.
It’s about becoming exactly who you truly are, and boldly standing for it.
It’s not hard or complicated, but it certainly will feel uncomfortable at first because it means that you’re developing a new habit and healing trauma that may have existed in your family for many generations.
Here are my favorite tools for healing people pleasing:
1. The Candle Exercise
This is a beautiful exercise I learned from Aaron Doughty in this video.
With this exercise, you look at the candle flame, and shift your focus from the candle flame to your own body (feeling your body while looking at the candle flame), back and forth.
What this does is it teaches your body to focus not only on other people, but also on your own body when you are around others – which is the direct opposite of the action of people pleasing.
2. Saying No
This won’t feel easy at all. But it is very simple.
Say no, say what you think, and do it in baby steps.
Step a tiny bit outside your comfort zone every day to teach your nervous system that it’s ok and safe to be authentically yourself. That you do not have to please others to survive in life.
This works in conjunction with all the other tools I’ve offered here, because doing this alone will not stick. Behavior changes without the inner work are short lasting.
It will work almost as a result of the other inner work tools I am sharing with you.
3. Inner Child Work
When we are little, our main goal is to survive. We are completely dependent on our parents to do so.
If you were raised in a family where it wasn’t ok to cry, it wasn’t ok to be completely you (especially if you are a very sensitive empath and were often told to tone yourself down), or you had to constantly achieve in order to receive love, approval and praise, then inner child work will change your life.
And if you’re a people pleaser, I am most certain that this resonates for you.
Inner child work is the MOST powerful tool there is for clearing unconscious programming and retraining yourself to show up in a new way in your life.
Inner child work will help you dive deeper into the reasons why you people please, and to allow your nervous system to relax and learn that you don’t have to.
I describe inner child work in depth in this post.
4. Telling Yourself What You Want to Hear
You can do the following simple exercise with your eyes closed, in a meditative state, or in front of a mirror with your eyes open.
Try both and see which one feels more powerful to you.
Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you have an instinct to get love or attention from someone, or to hear certain words of praise, do this instead:
First, acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with that need. Don’t judge yourself. This need comes from a deep wound from your childhood, and it’s the little you showing up now.
Love them and have compassion for them.
Second, grab that mirror, or with eyes closed, tell yourslf everything you want to hear:
“Hi. I want you to know you’re beautiful, intelligent, wise, attractive, gorgeous and I love you so much. You are so good at what you do and are so successful”.
Perhaps the first time you do it, it will feel really weird and uncomfortable.
The more you practice, the deeper these words will enter your body and mind.
5. Feeling your Edges
This somatic tool will support you in getting a felt sense of the experience of people pleasing.
Because people pleasing is such a deep rooted habit, it takes time to really begin to recognize when it kicks in.
The best way to gain awareness is through the experience of your body.
Close your eyes, and feel into the experience of people pleasing. First, feel the edges of your body. If you were to draw your own outline, what would it look like? Feel those edges.
Notice sensations in your body as you do this: belly, chest and throat.
Second, begin to imagine a situation in which you engage in the behavior of people pleasing. Notice what happens to the edges. Let yourself move your body as if you’re engaging in people pleasing without words, but with your body.
Notice and become aware of sensations of your body: belly, chest and throat. What do they feel? Is there a change from the first part to this?
6. Energy Release Meditation
Part of the reason why empaths engage in people pleasing is because it’s hard for us to feel another person’s energy entering our body and taking over.
It feels very overhwleming even imagining that someone will be angry with us, which is what we believe would happen if we say what we really think.
What we can do is practice releasing energies, and this will support us to know that we do not have to be victims to other people’s response to us.
Practice this amazing meditation for this:
Above all, the work of overcoming people pleasing is about self trust. It’s about overcoming the belief and experience that you must be anything else than exactly who you are, authentically.
Over time, you’ll learn to trust yourself and listen to your intuition. You’ll open your heart into your own inner wisdom and allow it to guide you in every step of your life.