YOU WERE NOT BORN A PEOPLE PLEASER, BUT YOU WERE RAISED ONE
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
So often women identify as people pleasers - “uch I’m such an empath and I just want to make people happy!” To these people I reply, No. These are not mutually exclusive. You were raised to feel this way. There is a world in which people feel compassion for others and do not feel fear, guilt, or obligation to intervene or change another's state. That impulsive need to please them so that you yourself can calm down is a result of your lack of boundaries.
The lack of boundaries among women is systemic. Your lack of boundaries is the very nature of the world you were born into. You, me, most of us, were raised to think that this is who we are - helpers and pleasers. Well guess what, I am here to tell you its not true. You are not a people pleaser, you were raised to be one. This is not your identity, rather, it's how you have been groomed by society to think and feel. Raised to believe that you will feel better about yourself and develop confidence if/when you are perceived positively by others. So you work extra hard all day, everyday, thinking and planning, without even realizing it - asking yourself how you can help others or impress them or get them to approve of you.
Being an adult is hard! It's even harder when you have not been equipped with the skill set required to be emotionally independent. When we don't have boundaries, this independence is hard to muster. We start to realize that its damn hard to please everyone. So instead of learning to balance independence with collaboration, we just start to engage in negative self talk which results in BOAT LOADS of anxiety and self doubt.
If you are like me (or rather how I used to be), you also realize that of the people you are trying to please, you are LAST on this list. You want to be included but you struggle to really come to terms with the fact that you do matter. You fight yourself on this because you don’t want to be “selfish” and you don’t want to see yourself as a bad person who is doing the wrong things.
When we start to accept that lacking emotional independence is NOT because it's who we are, but rather because of HOW we were raised, we can start to then detach from it and not identify so strongly with the behavior of pleasing. What do I mean by this? If I can accept that people pleasing is not who I am, then I can start to notice when I am doing it and challenge it.
Take for example making a plan with a friend - they want to go to Italian and they want to make a reservation for 8pm. You are not eating Italian currently and you are not sure you want to commit to this plan. INSTEAD of saying ok and agreeing reactively, notice that you have that internal conflict. Give it a name - call it something. Call it "pleaser." Talk back to pleaser:
"I see you pleaser wanting to say ok so that you dont have possible conflict and you don't want your friends judging you for being "difficult" or "annoying" - but are those even true? Would my friends be so offended so quickly if I voiced what I wanted? If so, maybe they are not friends worth keeping? Let me give it a try and see what happens. It will likely not be as bad as I imagine, and if it is, that is important information for me to know to make my next step in this friendship."
So, I am here to say a few things - one, when you are struggling to achieve independence and confidence in the face of perceived or real differing opinions, realize that you are living out a life that was planned for you; its automatic. DO NOT judge yourself for thinking this way, and don't avoid it, rather notice it and explore it! Next, be kind to yourself and remind yourself that this kind of conditioning to put others first takes TIME to undo. Finally, find peace in knowing you are not alone. You are part of a community of BILLIONS of women ALL AROUND THE WORLD who feel this way. So start small and in your own way.
Start modeling for yourself and others that you can say no and not have your world fall apart. When someone disagrees with your decision, remind yourself that you are awesome and that you did the best you could with what you had and love yourself through the discomfort. Be the very thing your parents and family and society have conditioned you not to be… SELFISH.
When we partner WITH ourselves, we open the doors for a new way of thinking. A new way of seeing ourselves and our interactions with others (not as being obligated to them or reliant upon them for our wellbeing). This is the BASIS for us to start understanding boundaries and implementing them. When I can understand, rationalize and internalize on a deep level that I MATTER independent of what others think of me, OR what I perceive others think of me, then I start to open the door to my needs becoming a priority.