We've all felt it right? That feeling like you don't want to say or do something because it might upset someone, especially if it's someone you care about like a friend or family member.
The truth is that people pleasing is one of many coping strategies, others include:
- Approval seeking
- Performer or comedian
- Rescuer or caretaker
- Being busy all the time
- Being judgemental
- And of course, people pleasing
A coping strategy is something that you take on to protect yourself from, or deal with certain situations or relationships in your life.
We're naturally wired to operate from a place of fear, but be really authentic and real is very vulnerable.
It's scary as hell to be vulnerable, it can feel like you're leaving yourself wide open to attack.
If you're someone who has adopted any of the coping strategies above, it probably means that you've experienced some sort of situation or relationship in your life where you've felt it's been necessary to protect yourself in this way.
It could be that you felt you needed to always be the best in order to receive love or feel worthy. It could be that you were always relied upon to take charge and if you didn't no one else would and things would go wrong.
This will have stuck with you as a fear response and therefore you act it out in your day to day life now because of fear of what might happen if you don't.
If you're a people pleaser it probably means that you felt like you had to be a peace keeper, maybe you knew some pretty volatile or highly strung people, maybe you got shouted at or made fun of if you voiced an opinion that differed from those people, maybe you felt very judged by those people and therefore always felt like you had to be a certain way or walk on egg shells around them.
This coping strategy in particular is a dangerous one because out of all the ones listed above, this one is the only one that really waters you down. Instead of trying to be more, you're trying to be less.
This is so detrimental to your happiness and success because you're never living into your full potential.
All of the coping strategies are ways of masking and protecting your true authentic self, but people pleasing is less about protecting and more about denying it.
If you're constantly censoring yourself or worrying about what to say or do, you're never going to take full control, or take the massive action you need to take in order to create the life you want.
You're going to stay stuck in blandsville!
If you're a people pleaser reading this now and feeling a little confronted by it, know that I am saying this with so much love, compassion and empathy because I have used this coping strategy for decades!
I can tell you first hand how detrimental it is to your success and happiness because I've lived it for myself.
If you're scared of taking action because of what someone might say or how they might feel about it, you're not very likely to take any action at all.
If you're scared of saying things because you're afraid of how people might respond to you, you're afraid of being challenged or attracting some sort of aggressive or condescending response, you're not likely to say what you want to say.
You will be spending so much time and energy overthinking, worrying and making assumptions about the reactions you might receive that you end up not showing up fully in your true authentic power!
You deny yourself and the world your true awesomeness. You stifle your authenticity and you become a watered down version of yourself.
And guess what? That doesn't feel good.
You're essentially putting other people's needs, wants and comfort above yourself.
You're not seeing yourself as equal.
You're denying yourself and you're gonna feel resentful.
When you feel like you're constantly managing other people's emotions and protecting yourself from attack, it's frickin exhausting!!
Not only is it exhausting, it's frustrating and over time (sometimes instantly) you become bitter and resentful that you "have" to appease so many people.
You feel annoyed that you're not getting the levels of happiness and success that you really want for your life.
The truth is that you need to let go of this coping strategy.
Ask yourself why you felt the need to adopt it in the first place. What relationship or situation in your life prompted it?
What do you need to make peace with? Who or what do you need to forgive? How do you need to remind yourself that you're totally worthy and equal? How are you going to remind yourself of all the ways in which you're amazing?
What would happen if the worst case scenario happened? What if you did show up completely authentically and someone didn't like it?
Really what would happen?
If someone feels triggered or confronted by you being you, and if you being you comes from a place of love and compassion, what does that say about the person who feels triggered?
It says far more about them than it does about you. It's triggered them because of a fear or insecurity that they have.
If you decide to take on and own other people's fears and insecurities then yes, you're going to feel under attack.
If you recognise that it's not about you, it's their thing, then you choose not to own their stuff, then you won't feel so attacked.
You will feel far more empowered and accepting of yourself and them.
Remember that this is a journey.
I recognised a while ago that my coping strategy was people pleasing. I knew exactly why I adopted it and I did the forgiveness work around it. I worked on my self worth and started practicing showing up more authentically and empowered.
But, there have been several times since then where I have found myself exhibiting those people pleasing tendencies again. It's like I'll clear some of it and then a bit later there'll be more to work on.
So it's totally ok and normal if this is the case for you too, just know that if you keep practicing being self-aware and working on your self-worth, you'll keep levelling up and being the truest most awesome version of yourself.
Finding inner peace and happiness with who you truly are is totally doable. The way to start is to let go of the coping strategies that are holding you back and masking your authenticity.