Yes, I’m talking to you!
The person who said yes even though in the pit of your stomach you swore you wouldn’t. The beautiful soul who so hated to confront conflict that she said yes to that project at work that she really didn’t even feel qualified, let alone the bandwidth, to do. And yes, that person who loves her kids so much that she puts them first to the point of feeling completely depleted. You are a people pleaser. A beautiful, kind, people-pleaser.
Is this bad? Not necessarily. And this week on the blog I’m going to help you wade through this potentially messy state and decide for yourself. I have a few questions for you to “honestly” ask your self, an admission of “people-pleasing” guilt from my own archive and ways to honour yourself during times of extreme people-pleasing. So let’s get to it!
People Pleasers Unite!
I like to share the story of me and my “yoga-loving” neighbour as an example of how people pleasing can back-fire on you. When my older boys where about 9 and 12 I was at the height of my “people-pleasing” addiction and I didn’t’ even know it. I had no idea how tied this behaviour was to my reactivity and constant feelings of overwhelm. I was in a phase of saying yes to everyone’s requests, running around short of breath and behaving like a perfect martyr. One day I noticed my neighbour heading out with a yoga matt slung around her shoulder and a smile on her face and I thought “wow, what a self-indulgent (fill in the blank)! Imagine leaving your kids with a sitter to go to yoga….on a SATURDAY! How selfish”. Well, selfish indeed. Interesting enough, this is the same person who then had the energy and patience to have all the neighbourhood kids over to bake (for which I also criticized her with “must be nice to have that kind of time!”). What I failed to realize was that my pleasing everyone else while depleting myself made me down-right angry at people who were giving themselves the very things I needed. Once I had this epiphany I then had a decision to make; do I continue on with the pleasing or do I learn to honour that I have needs to and that I can’t be the person I want to be unless I start to take care of myself. A job that only I can do. This really was the start of my journey (about 10 years) that lead to AmandaMeditates and the beautiful “work-in-progress” that I call my soulful life, today.
Honouring Your People-Pleasing Tendencies
In my experience, we most often people please because we are addicted to approval and/or desire to avoid conflict. Both of which are the wrong reasons to people please. Why? Because they come from an object-referred state that says that other people’s needs are more important than your own. Oh, you can do it! Sure! But at a cost. As you continue to deprive yourself, you become depleted, reactive and unhappy. In addition, it becomes a really difficult habit to break.
When doing for others is not people-pleasing I like to call it “acts of kindness”. Acts of kindness are not done out of obligation, the need to be accepted or to avoid conflict. They are done from a self-referred state; from a place that feels like compassion, love, gratitude.
So how do you know if your people-pleasing is healthy or not? The vast majority of people I work with are well aware; that isn’t the challenge. If you take a moment to close your eyes, have a couple long, slow, deep breathes and ask yourself “is this an act of kindness that I can do with my whole heart or I am afraid that saying yes will result in me feeling depleted” your body will give you the answer. At that point its up to you to make a tough decision. Can you be brave and say no and then hang out in the discomfort long enough to see what happens? To see if it will all be ok? To find out what taking a different and more nourishing approach may get you? I bet you can and if you can’t, I’d love to hear from you. This is a life skill. And every time you say yes to your health and happiness, you model for people how they can treat you and how they should treat themselves. Awesome, right?
So before you say “yes” to that party you don’t really want to go to or “ok” to that request to help out at an event when your week already looks over-committed;
STOP, Take 5-10 long, slow, deep breaths and ask, Am I people-pleasing again? Can I honestly say, “this is a full-body yes?” Awareness is the catalyst for change. And that simple awareness followed by a “thanks for asking, I’m flattered, however my week is too full already” or “I would love to but I’m learning to say no” could be the difference between you continuing to feel overwhelmed or the start of a love affair with yourself that will ripple into every corner of your life.
Your “Inner Wisdom” Challenge (should you feel ready to accept it)
- Say “I can’t” to someone today (not sorry, not a drawn-out excuse, just “I can’t”)
- Notice how it feels (it might be messy but please stay with it and NOTICE)
- Assess how it went (as bad as expected? Not that bad really? Pretty good?)
- Commit to try it again (Neurons that fire together, wire together. Every time you try out a “no” you are teaching your brain a new habit! Its called Neuroplasticity and it means that you can re-train your brain to automatically take better care of you!)
Let’s work together to kick #UnhealthySacrifice to the curb.
And in case you didn’t know, YOU ARE WORTH IT! YOU ARE SO FREAKING WORTH IT!
Sending love and strength your way,