Overcoming People Pleasing
Ep. 126
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In this week’s episode, we are tackling people-pleasing. I figured this topic would be perfect for the week of Thanksgiving. As we know, the United States is experiencing a massive surge of COVID cases, and many of us are stuck facing the dilemma of whether or not to see our family. This is a prime example of a moment where we have to choose what is best for our life and the life of those around us. Thanksgiving may not look the same this year, but this is a topic that affects every day of your life in every way. So I think it is still one that you will find useful, even if you are spending the holidays in a less conventional setting.

I am also running a four-week goal setting workshop during the first week of January to kick-off 2021!!

Here’s the thing: Most people don’t set goals because they know they won’t follow through. Setting New Year’s resolutions has almost become a joke. But the problem is not setting goals (I can’t believe I have to say that). The problem is not knowing how to properly set goals and how to actually follow through.

I want to teach you the techniques that have truly changed my life. I want to show you how to set proper goals, how to make time in your calendar to work on them and how to overcome all of the self-sabotage that usually gets in the way. If you want to learn how to set and reach any goal, head to www.quitterclub.com/goals to sign up. Doors will open next week.

Show Transcript
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode. I am so excited you are here. You're in for a treat. We are tackling people-pleasing. I actually did an episode on this two years ago, the week of Thanksgiving as well, but I have learned a ton in my own journey of overcoming people-pleasing in my life, coach certification in a lot of the mindset work that I'm doing. And I figured again, the week of Thanksgiving in the States right now, where a lot of us are around a lot of family and a lot of these people-pleasing tendencies tend to come up is a perfect time to tackle this topic. I know Thanksgiving may not look the same this year with COVID, but this is a topic that affects every day of your life in every way. So I think it is still one that you will find useful, even if you are spending the holidays with less people this year, before I jump in, I did want to mention again that I am having a goal-setting workshop in January.

I'm going to open up doors next week, and I want you in this workshop. Let me tell you why it's not so much because I think that, I dunno, we need to constantly be hustling and I don't want you to think of goal setting like that. I actually want to help you rethink of goal setting the way that I have started rethinking of goal setting. I hated resolutions. I never did them. I thought it was a waste of time. And now I realize how the error in my thinking and how much that held me back over the years, I have learned really incredible techniques that have helped me figure out how to grow every year. Like that is really my goal. It happens in all aspects of my life. And I want to teach you not only how to approach goal, setting, how to think about it, how to stop, attaching your worth to these goals that you set so that you go through these like shame spirals if you don't hit it.

But I also want to teach you techniques of how to find the time to work on these goals and how to overcome the procrastination and the self-sabotage that so many of us suffer from when we pick something that seems scary or that we're not going to make it to. So basically it's a whole lot of information in one month. And I have purposely picked a very affordable price point for this because I know my other programs tend to not be as affordable for people. And I want to make sure as many of you can join as possible and you get to hang out with me for four weeks, which who doesn't want to do come on guys. Um, so if you want to sign up, if you want to be on the waitlist to get notified, go to quitter club.com/goals and join me. Okay.

Now that is out of the way let's jump in to people-pleasing. I wanted to start by talking about what it actually is. I think that a lot of us think we know, obviously like we want other people to be happy. We want it to please them, but I want to define it because I think we gloss over how serious of an issue it is. So the definition I found online is a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of his or her own needs and desires, right? And I want to focus kind of on this emotional need that we have to have everybody else be happy or to like us at our own expense and what that is costing you right now, people-pleasing is it's easy to understand why we do it. One, we are evolutionarily wired to want to be a part of a tribe right back in the day.
If people didn't like you and you were ostracized, you would die. And that is why so many of us still feel as though we're going to die. If somebody doesn't like us, right, we have this a visceral response. And so there is an innate need for connection and for a community. But as we talk about later, what people-pleasing actually does in my mind is take away an authentic connection. And that is why so many of us feel very lonely, even though we are surrounded with people and we'll talk about this later. But part of it is this innate need to want to be connected. And we just go about it the wrong way. We think that if we just do what everybody else wants, then we will have, you know, love and connection and people around us. Part of it is that we've been programmed from when we were born.
Basically, if you think back to your schooling childhood if you look at work, now the entire message across the board is do what you're told. Be obedient, don't make waves, right? Seek the approval of others. So that's what we do over and over again. We just learn that the number one goal is to make sure everybody else is happy. Now as a child, it could actually be very threatening or extremely scary when an adult got angry. Right? So depending on the home that you grew up in, it could have been a form of protection to want to make sure other people are happy so that you are not neglected or abused in any way or even less dramatic. You know you don't kind of bear the wrath of an angry adult. And for so many of us, we internalize that message that part of our survival or protection is to make sure other people are happy.
So that becomes kind of this dominant goal in our lives is like, forget everything else. Just make sure the people around us are happy. And so we bring that into adulthood where we may not have those same threats, right? We don't need to please people, we won't get kicked out of a tribe and die if people don't like us, but we have these subconscious patterns and thoughts and beliefs. And it is when you don't examine it. When you aren't aware of your own thoughts, it becomes difficult to ever either observe and or change these behaviors. And that's sort of what I want to talk about. So there are two ways that I see that this comes up in our lives. One is that we are just very deeply uncomfortable with other people experiencing a negative emotion. Okay? So a lot of people well blazing that I think a lot of people may not actually relate to people using or don't think of it this way is that you just don't want somebody else to feel a negative emotion.
It may not even have anything to do with you. I want you to think about the last time you were around somebody who was upset for whatever reason, maybe they were sad and maybe they were mad, whatever. And I want you to think about the physical discomfort that you felt, the tension that you felt that somebody else is experiencing a negative emotion. Again, we are programmed from childhood to believe that negative emotions are bad or wrong or need to be fixed, right? Like the language is what's right. Wrong, stop crying. It's okay. Or, you know, the, our parents tried to fix it. And now we do that for our children. And the message we are sending is that it's not okay to just be sad, right? It's not normal. Something has gone wrong and we must fix it. We are not taught how to process emotions, right?
We are taught that negative emotions are bad as children. You can see now like we are taught that you're not alone, how to show anger. You're not allowed to be in a bad mood and throw a tantrum. And so when we, you see somebody else experiencing a negative emotion, it physically hurts us. Right? We have this feeling. It's a vibration in our body and it feels really uncomfortable. And so we bend over backward to fix it. You know, that might show up in like, we don't voice what we need. We just become agreeable. We just want to keep the peace at all costs. Right? This shows up in our relationships. We end up just foregoing. Anything that we actually need, because we would rather there just be peace as opposed to like showing up fully. It shows up at work. Obviously like we don't set boundaries. So many people I work with are burned out because they go above and beyond what is required of their job because they don't want their supervisor or boss or coworkers to be upset, to have a negative emotion.
That's one reason the other reason, which is I think more readily known is that we want to be liked, right? We people please because we want people to like us. So we are trying to control their perception of us. Now, again, we have a deep-seated need to be liked or accepted, right? We don't want to feel rejected. But what I want you to understand is a lot of times what we are subconsciously doing is that we are linking people, liking us and quote, unquote being nice as being good. Right? So if people don't like us, if we are not considered quote-unquote, nice, then that means that we are bad or selfish or unworthy or whatnot. Right? And so when you are hanging your own self-worth or whether you are a good person or good enough person or whatnot on whether other people like you or what other people think you are a good enough person, then you are constantly going to need to hustle for that external validation.
Right? A lot of us are seeking our own self-worth through people's approval. And so we lose who we are through this. Right. I want you to think about the last time somebody didn't like you thought somebody didn't like you, the last time you were in a situation where you felt somebody was upset, or I don't know, just, you had a feeling that they weren't that into you. And I want you to think about, why was that a problem for you? Right. If they didn't like you, what were you making that mean about yourself? So many of us become performative. Like we end up going, you know, really extreme to try to get that person to like us. And I want you to think about why, why is it a problem? Like intellectually, we understand that not everybody is going to like everyone. Right?
There's different strokes for different folks. I mean, there are people that don't like, Beyonce, come on, there's going to be things like, you know, there's that saying? You could be the juiciest peach. And there are people that don't like peaches. So we can understand that intellectually. But when we are in that situation, it becomes almost unbearable that like everybody, for some reason has to like us. And I want you to think about what am I making that mean about myself? If somebody doesn't like me, because the reality is like, they just, for whatever reason, like you might rub them the wrong way, or there's something about you that they don't like, and that's more about them, right? It's their own thoughts that are causing their feelings to not like you. And if we were rational beings, we could decide like, okay, that person, for whatever reason, the thoughts they have about me are not good and who cares.
Right. But we don't think like that. We think like this is a problem that makes me bad somehow. And that makes me mean somehow. And so I have to like go above and beyond. Right. And what I want you to understand with both of these situations is that you are trying to manipulate people through niceness. Okay? So in the first situation where we talked about where we just can't let somebody experience human and emotion, you are trying to use your kindness, niceness, whatever, to change or manipulate their feelings. Now, if you listen to this podcast, then you know that we don't cause other people's emotions, our thoughts cause our own emotions. So that other person who is having a negative emotion is having it because of their own negative thoughts.
We also know that life was always going to be good and bad. That negative emotion is always a part of every single one of our adult lives, right? I mean, even kids lives just life, right? No matter what happens in your circumstances in your life, you will feel sadness and anger and frustration, whatever. And it's just a negative vibration in your body. And it's okay. So I want you to repeat this to yourself. The next time you are around somebody who is upset, who you know is having a negative emotion. I just want you to repeat, I am not responsible for other people's emotions. I do not have to manipulate the environment to make sure that this person never feels anything negative because spoiler alert, that's impossible, right? Everyone's going to have negative emotions. And if you've taken on the burden to make sure that the people around you never feel anything negative, you've taken on an impossible task that you will fail at.
And so if you start reminding yourself that they are having an, a human experience, right, and it's their own thoughts and it's okay, nothing has gone wrong and they can experience it, but it doesn't need quote, unquote fixing. And what your job is, is to learn, to sit with that discomfort of somebody feeling negative emotion and not wanting to make it your problem. And that's going to be the hardest part, right? So we talk about like observing your own thoughts. The next time somebody around you is upset. I want you to just watch your own thoughts, watch your mind freak out when somebody is mad or sad. And I want you to ask yourself, why is it a problem for me that they are experiencing a negative emotion as you practice this, it becomes easier, right? You take off that burden. You've placed upon yourself.
You let them have a full human experience and you stop trying to control circumstances outside of you that you honestly have no control over anyways. But the bigger problem I think comes in the people-pleasing of wanting people to like you. And I really want you to understand that this is manipulation in the form of niceness, right? We don't look at it this way. We think it's such a great thing to be nice. Like I'm so nice. How wonderful of me to be so kind. But I want you to understand that you aren't doing it out of a genuine, authentic need to be nice or desire to be nice, or because you really want to help this person. You are doing it to manipulate how they perceive you. And so it's a lie. And I don't think most of us realize that, that you are lying to people.
You are showing up as a lie of yourself. And so many of us lose who we are. I can't tell you the majority of people that come to me and are in my programs, have no idea what they like, what they want for their life, because they've spent so much of their life trying to be this perfect, nice person for everybody else. I don't think a lot of us realize like overachieving or even perfectionism is a form of people pleasing. We learned early on that everybody is super happy when I do the right thing, right? When I get the a hundred percent or when I go after this degree, or I get this job, that's considered quote, unquote, successful. Like my parents are happy. The teachers are happy. My friends are happy. Society is praising me. I'm just going to keep doing this because this feels good.
And we're using other people's opinions about us to satisfy our own need, like to build up our own self-confidence. But I don't have to explain to you the problem with this. Because if you are living by external validation, you are also dying by it, right? If all of your own self worth and your love for yourself comes in how other people view you. That is why you are so desperate to make sure they like you. Because what happens when they don't, what happens when someone doesn't approve of what you want to do, what happens when you make a decision that goes against what your family wanted or what your, you know, what society wants? That feeling is so hard because you have let your entire self-worth ride on what they think. Now, of course, we're not doing this consciously. We've done it subconsciously for our entire lives. But I want you to understand that, that you are using this tool of controlling how people perceive you in order to feel better about yourself, mind blowing, right?
And here's the saddest part. Like you will contort yourself. You will basically lose who you are, right? You haven't really have no idea, like what you actually like. You're like this watered down version of yourself. And there are people that still don't like you, right? But now they just, don't like a watered down version of you. And as I talked about earlier about this need for connection and this need for, to be loved and all of the stuff that we actually have, you know, innately within us. I think the reason that so many of us are surrounded by people, but we still feel lonely. Right? We still feel as though we don't have these authentic connections is because you aren't showing up authentically as yourself, right? The persona you're putting on the play, you're putting on this mask that you're putting on is it's like super agreeable, nice person who is easy going, who has no opinions.
Who's just going to do what everybody else wants is not who you are. And so you haven't given people the chance to love you for who you are. And so I think so many of us feel lost and feel lonely because we don't even know who we are. And other people definitely don't know who we are. And so we don't have those authentic connections. And what happens often is we bend over backwards. We water ourselves down, we do all these things and then people still don't maybe appreciate it, or they don't reciprocate. And then we become resentful in our relationships, right? We get angry that like I do all of this for you or to please you or to make you happy. And you're still not satisfied. Right. And we put it on kind of on them to know what we have gone through, like the mental gymnastics that we have gone through. Whereas the other person doesn't know that you're doing it as a lie. Right. They just think you don't have an opinion or you don't want to do the, you know, you're fine with whatever they pick. Let's just say. And so you, the relationships get strained, right? Because you're putting on this act.
And so many of us feel this type of resentment and anger to our parents or to our spouses or whatever, because we agreed to do something, wanting to make them happy. And then we didn't actually want to do it. And so the way through this with anything is to become aware of your own thoughts when you are doing this and why you are doing it right, so that you can change it. The first step is just becoming curious, like the reason I picked this week to do it is because if you are going to Thanksgiving, I want you to just observe how many times you try to get someone else's approval. How many times you talk about something that you know, that they want to talk about, or they're going to be excited about you doing, like, why are you seeking that external validation? That's like the first step, but I think a bigger step for so many of us in overcoming people, pleasing is not in just learning how to put up boundaries or whatnot.
It's in cultivating your own self-confidence and self-love right. It's going back to truly loving yourself without needing somebody else to approve of you. It's working on understanding that you are perfectly whole and normal and great. If you aren't nice all the time. If you have an opinion that might go against other people's, you are allowed to voice that opinion and you are allowed to have your own back. You're allowed to love yourself. Even if other people don't agree with the decision you've made, right? That's where the real work comes. Because the more you start to actually enjoy yourself, the more you look at all of the wonderful things that you provide and the value that you bring to this world, the less you need other people to validate that for you. And it becomes easier then to actually speak your own mind or to go against what somebody else says.
Now, I think sometimes people mistake what I'm saying, or when you talk about that and thinking like, well, then I'm just going to be selfish. And I'm going to walk around just doing what I want all the time. And I'm going to be mean, and I'm just not going to be a nice person. That's not ever going to be the case, right? Because most of us with maybe small things or certain things like we actually maybe don't have a preference, or if we genuinely want to do something, because it makes us other person feel a certain way, or it's going to help them. I want to genuinely help. Let's say my parents or whatnot. But when I do it from a place of like genuinely, I've chosen to do this, that I'm not resentful. If they're not as appreciative as I think they should be.
Right. Or that it took more time out of my life than I wanted to get, because I've made the decision purposefully. And when there are times when I'm like, no, I just can't do this. It goes against what I want to do. Then I'm okay if they're upset with that, because I want it to be a genuine connection. I wanted to be a genuine relationship. We're not going to all of a sudden like human beings have this need to like, want to work together and compromise. Most of us feel good. We have good thoughts when other people feel good and we want to do it. I just want you to do it from a genuine place. I want you to do it because it feels good to you. And you've decided, and you like your decisions, not because someone is guilting you into doing it, or because you feel terrible that they're going to have a negative emotion.
That's not the reason to do it. And I often hear people who I coach, who really want to work on this people pleasing and the men till gymnastics starts. And it's like, okay, yeah, I'm going to set up this boundary, but I just really don't want this other person to be upset. Like they want to create a boundary that the other person is going to be happy about. And that is not the point. Okay. I want you to understand it. There's going to be a lot of people in your life. When you set up boundaries who are going to be upset about that, because obviously it worked in their favor when you didn't have boundaries. And so nobody wants that when they've had access, like full access to you, doing everything that they wanted you to do, your work is not in making sure that they are happy while you are setting boundaries, because that is an impossible task. Your work is in setting up that boundary and then sitting with the discomfort when they are upset knowing that it is okay, that they have a negative emotion about it, knowing that it is,

it doesn't mean that you're a bad person or mean or whatnot. It comes from a place of love, both love for yourself and love for them to create more of a genuine relationship. Boundaries don't have to come from anger and they shouldn't.
They should come from love, right? They shouldn't come from a place of like, I'm so burned out. I have to do this, or I'm, we're going to kill each other. It should be like, this is what I need. And so I'm going to do it. And if that's not okay with you then that's okay, then you have to make a decision for yourself. When you learn to set boundaries and learn to show up genuinely as your whole self, you give other people in your life permission to do the same. You are more understanding of their boundaries. You understand that it doesn't mean that they don't love you or that, you know, you're not good enough or whatnot. It's just what they need in order to feel the way that they want to feel in order to go through life, the way they want to go through life.
And you allow for more of a genuine relationship with that person, where everybody is allowed to be their, their full selves, as opposed to putting on an act, which so many of us do with our friends, with our families and feel so empty and kind of disconnected. Now, one trick, I do want to give you in figuring this out, because like I said, the first step is becoming aware. And so a lot of us don't really even catch ourselves, um, while we're in the people pleasing. And I want you to think of it this way, this will let you kind of uncover what you're doing.
So our brains love patterns. They have to figure out how to act in a certain situation. So that every situation isn't new, right? And this works for the vast majority of things. It's a great tool to have, right? Every time you see a door, it doesn't want it. You don't need it to be a new event. You need to know what, like, I turn the knob and I open, or I push or pull or whatever, or a cup is like, this is a cup. I pick it up. And I drink out of it. Like for the most part, we don't need to unearth these millions of rules that we've created for ourselves because they help us live our lives.
But you do want to unearth the rules that are leading to resolve faults that you don't like, right. That are causing problems. And so when it comes people pleasing, I want you to ask yourself these questions to start unearthing some of the rules that you've been living by. And that question is, what should I always do in this situation? What should I never?
So let's say with respect to like a coworker that comes by your office and starts chatting, and it takes time away from your day, you're not going to hit your deadlines. You're getting distracted from work. You don't want to talk, but you just find yourself talking because you don't want to hurt this person's feelings, right. You would ask yourself, what should I always do? When a coworker to chat with me?
What should I never do? And the rule you're likely living by is I should always smile politely and engage. You know, I should show them that I'm friendly. I should never say no, because that would make them feel sad. And it's not okay to make someone feel sad. I hope you can see that this is like a very insane rule to live by. You are allowed to protect your schedule and do the thing that you need to do for work. Even if somebody else has a negative emotion. And once you can kind of see the rules you're living by, it starts becoming easier to say, like, that's not something I want to do anymore. That is not a way I want to live. So maybe that happens with like, when my mother calls me, what should I do every time my mother calls me, maybe that means I have to answer it every time, or she's going to feel bad or whatever the rules are.
Once you start uncovering it, it becomes easier to decide consciously, is this a rule I want to keep? Or is it not? How can I honor myself and decide what I want or feel, or need is just as valid as what everybody else feels and needs and start putting yourself first. This takes practice. It does take time. Okay. So your brain is likely going to want to go back to making things okay. To making everybody happy. And that doesn't mean anything has gone wrong. It's just a process of figuring out, okay, this is the way I've always done it before. And I don't want to do this because it's creating a lot of problems. It's leaving me overworked. It's leaving me exhausted. It's leaving me not showing up as the person I want to be. And I want to honor myself and love myself. And so I'm going to work on this every week.
And each time I catch myself doing it, it doesn't mean that I need to use this as a tool to beat myself up and say like, see, I'll never stop doing this. It just is a way to get curious and understand like, Oh, here I go again. Why did I think in that situation, it was okay for me to forego everything I wanted so that this person could be happy. I wonder why I'm doing this again. So that with each time you start learning and I promise you, it becomes easier and easier and easier to catch yourself and to sit with that discomfort of other people being unhappy.
I hope this was helpful. And I hope you take this to heart and really start loving yourself and put yourself first and allowing yourself to show up as a full human. Because the more you love yourself, the more you show up as yourself, the more you can give to other people, the more you can genuinely create relationships. You love, the more loving you can be. So many of us are so burned out because you know, we're trying to pour from an empty cup. And so this is the opposite of being selfish. This is the opposite of being self centered. It is putting on your own oxygen masks so that you can help the people in your life. I hope that this has helped you. And if you like this episode, let me know.
I will see you next week for another one. And if you want to join the goal setting workshop, the Twitter club.com/gold. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcasts, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.