People pleasing sounds so nice doesn’t it? But we have a question for you: What is more valuable/important for your wellbeing, what people think about you or what you think about yourself?
Nobody cares about the doormat – in fact, people automatically wipe their feet on a doormat without thinking twice – do you want to be the doormat?
Everyone wants to be liked. The issue arrives when that inclination to do what will make people like you gets out of hand. Running errands for a friend or family member once in a while is helpful, but ignoring your own life’s needs, wants, and responsibilities for someone else’s wants and needs isn’t healthy.
The “good” feeling that you get when you do someone else a favor or help somebody with a problem they have, or even just do a good thing for someone else is from dopamine being released in your brain. It’s the feel-good neurotransmitter!
The only problem is, some of our brains LOVE that feeling a little more than others, and it can become really hard to control the “want” or craving for more serotonin to be released.
It’s almost like an addiction. It’s an easy slope to fall down – you only intend to keep doing nice things for people, because it makes YOU feel good. BUT, like a substance addiction, the craving for that “good” feeling keeps pulling at you and pushing you to ignore what YOU need to live and thrive in the service of other people.
The breaking point comes when you no longer have anything left to give anyone, including yourself. Not enough sleep, not enough money, not enough self-care – you have been giving all you have to everyone around you to keep them “happy and liking you” but you never took care of yourself! Your temper shortens and resentment starts building, but here is the fucked up thing – you start to resent the PEOPLE YOU ARE PLEASING as if their “needs” are the reason you are such an unhappy person.
Reality: You did it to yourself – but because you are always doing things for others you perceive the problem as something that is being done TO you, rather than something you are doing.
Kyle used to get really caught up in one specific area when it came to people pleasing. (Kyle will now write in the first person!)
I used to LOVE being the best bartender at the restaurants I worked at. I enjoyed being the fastest in the service well, the most knowledgeable about drinks and drink history, the person who could make a shitload of money talking to the guests, the best salesman of food over the bar… the list goes on and on. But, do you know what really stroked my ego the most? Knowing that OTHER people knew that about me. My managers, my fellow coworkers, and even the bar guests, I wanted them to know (and rely on me) that I was the best. Especially for my managers. I wanted the best, most lucrative shifts, and the best way to get them was by being reliable and kick-ass at your job. So I stopped saying no and started replacing the word “no” with the phrase “No problem, I got it”. Hindsight is incredible, isn’t it?
Things went predictably terribly.
I would take all the burden of responsibility, pick up every shift I was asked to take, made overly-complex drinks for regular guests during the busiest of happy hours, come in early to clean, leave late after more cleaning, help the management with inventory, come in on my (often) one day off that week for a meeting or for some other work bullshit.
Sounds terrible, right? Here is the most fucked up thing, I was AWESOME at doing all of that, I really was, for about 4 years. During that time I was able to be “Johnny-on-the-spot” for just about anything and everything my job asked of me. After that, however, I really burnt out fast. I had all the symptoms of someone who was falling apart after people pleasing for so long. I was exhausted, irritable, constantly blaming others for what I was doing to myself, and generally miserable. Not sustainable long term – even though I did it for years to come. Getting out of restaurants helped me curb my people pleasing habits, but so did constantly reminding myself as to WHY I did what I did and what my values are.
So, with that story, you can see how many people can easily fall victim to people pleasing especially when the reason intended to be positive.
Now you may be asking yourself… HOW CAN I AVOID THIS PEOPLE PLEASING HABIT?
You can simply remove yourself from a situation or scenario where you find it difficult to say no to people or to prioritize yourself.
And if it’s more complex than that, which many times it is… ask yourself WHY and WHAT.
Why are you doing something for someone else? What do you get out of it? What do they get out of it?
This isn’t a suggestion to be “selfish,” rather it’s a reminder to remind YOURSELF of the reason you do things. If the reason you are going grocery shopping for your friends instead of them doing so is that they just had a child and have zero food in their house and no car to go to the store in – then that is probably a fine amount of “people pleasing” behavior.
But, if your friends don’t have any restrictions or challenges around going shopping and you are doing it for them on your only day off… then that might be an issue. “People pleasing” is a normal human action. We like other people, we like doing things for other people, we like having things done for us! The problem arises when the person who “people pleases” begins to do it at the detriment to themselves. Everything in moderation.
If this blog has resonated with you and you want to go deeper into learning more about how to STOP people pleasing, we have two suggestions for you.
#1) We have a masterclass on this! Our How to Stop People Pleasing Masterclass is one of our most popular with actionable steps to take in your life. Check it out here.
#2) The Disease to Please by Harriet Braiker, Ph.D. — This book is AH-mazing and we highly recommend it to anyone who has a deep desire to shift this potentially destructive habit. You can get it on Amazon here.