What It Looks Like.
Prioritising The Other Person.
“People pleasing” entails focusing time and energy on meeting the needs of another person. When there are contradicting needs what is important to the other person becomes prioritised over what you need. The relationship can become one sided and you can find yourself feeling resentful and dissatisfied.
Silencing Your Own Voice.
You remain quiet regarding your own preferences, needs and desires. You don’t want to risk upsetting the other person or proposing something that might not be what they want. There is also a tendency to go along with things you don’t really want to do rather than speak up about it.
Pre-Empting The Needs Of Others.
Instead of simply responding to the needs others, “people pleasers” often find themselves trying to guess what another person my want before they even say anything. They are always reading between the lines and looking for subtext in conversations. So much energy is used guess what the other person may be trying to say behind their actual words.
Where Can It Come From.
People who feel anxious in relationship revert to “people pleasing” as a way to alleviate the anxiety. On a certain level they believe that if they focus on taking care of others, people will stay with them and the relationship will be safe. Often there is a lot of anxiety that underlies this pattern of behaviour.
Feeling Overly Responsible.
People who are caught in this pattern of behaviour report feeling responsible for the happiness of others. When their needs contradict those of another person they experience a sense of responsibility for the others persons well being. This results in relationships where they are often placed in a secondary position to others.
Breaking The Pattern.
Notice The Pattern.
Take not of the times when you fall into the people-pleasing pattern. Identify the signs that you are attending to the needs of another person at the expense of your own or spending a lot of energy in trying to make someone else happy. It may look different in different context so spend some time really getting to know how it appears in your life.
Identify Your Own Needs.
Start by acknowledging to yourself what you need in a given situation. Maybe you have been invited out for lunch and you are completely exhausted and just need to rest. First acknowledge that to yourself.
Tolerate The Discomfort.
When you start to prioritise your needs you will probably feel uncomfortable about it and it may come with some anxiety. In the past as soon as this discomfort arose you may have reverted back to your old ways of coping. I want to invite you to sit with that discomfort and give it space rather than avoiding it and falling back into “people pleasing”.
Connect With Someone You Trust.
Identify a relationship where it feels safe to start expressing your needs. Share with another person the pattern you have noticed in your life, how it makes you feel and how you are trying to do things differently. By facilitating this authentic connection you are already starting to break the pattern.
If you want dive deeper into understanding and healing this unhelpful pattern in your life then therapy can help. Call me today to discuss your challenges or to begin treatment.