People pleasing is not merely wanting others around you to be happy. That is being a nice person. And this misconception is why people pleasers have a tough time changing. “What, you want me to be mean to everyone?” was one comment I heard while giving a workshop about this topic.
“No,” I responded. “I want you to respect yourself at least as much as you do others.”
That peaked her attention.
You see, people pleasing is motivated by something deeper than wanting others to be happy. It is fueled by conditional self-worth.
Self-worth is how worthy you view yourself. We will talk more about it in the blog dedicated to this topic, as it is a vital component of the Me Too Now What movement.
And yet, we cannot have a discussion about people pleasing without bringing it up.
Your self-worth is a fundamental (usually subconscious) lens through which you see the world, as well as how you view yourself. When it is conditional, it means you only feel worthy, or good about yourself, when certain conditions are met.
It is human nature to want to feel good about yourself. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when attempts to feel good about yourself on one level actually counter your ability to address your own needs, to take care of your own goals, or to do what is truly best for you.
This is not to say you only put your needs and desires first before everyone else all the time. There are times when it makes sense or is even vital to prioritize someone else. As a mother of two children, I would have loved to have slept through the night when they were babies. Instead, I got up every three to four hours to feed the tiny beings.
That is not people pleasing. That is being responsible.
People pleasing occurs when you put the contentment of others as your highest priority, despite potentially going against your desires, negatively impacting your physical or mental health, or even countering your values or what you believe deep down that you “should” do.
Why would someone do this? To feel good about themselves.
“Wait, you’re saying I’m selfish? How can that possibly be when I take care of everyone else?”
No, that is not what I’m saying.
What I am communicating is that people pleasing is caused by a desire to feel better about yourself.
Conditional self-worth has established deep-seated rules that sound like this:
- “If other people around me are happy, then I am OK with myself.”
- “If other people are not happy, I need to do everything I can to make them happy. Then I will feel OK about myself.”
- “If I take care of my own desires or even my needs when people around me are not happy, then that makes me selfish.”
Did any of those comments sound familiar? Sure, they may not be conscious thoughts you are aware of, but as you read them over, did any hit close to home?
Yay, I thought so.
How might this play into the Me Too Now What movement?
Are you concerned that speaking up might impact other people? Are you worried that your story will make others uncomfortable? Are you fearful that telling someone might stir up stress or unpleasant events for others?
If so, people pleasing might be playing a role.
Now, the antidote is not to tell the world about what happened, at least not necessarily. For some people that is liberating and freeing. For others, it causes themselves more stress.
How do you overcome people pleasing? Change those ingrained bylaws that are governing your thoughts and actions.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to apply the WWYSTYBF concept.
What is that? What Would You Say To Your Best Friend?
If she told you how overwhelmed she felt while trying to make sure everyone was happy but was running herself ragged, what would you say? “You better keep prioritizing others, only try harder this time?”
No way! You would probably tell her how thoughtful she is, how much you applaud her effort and, most importantly, that it’s time to take care of her own needs and desires, too.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is vital to your well-being and success. Want to learn more? Check out a blog I wrote about this.
You are worthy, not because you make others happy, but because you are YOU. And, as you, you will continue to care about the well-being of others. At the same time, from now on, make sure you are in that group of people you take care of and support.
Stop people pleasing and start tending to your own desires and needs while still caring for others.
You are worth it!