Have you heard of the term ‘people pleaser’?
Perhaps you are one and didn’t realise it. I know I am one, an unintentional one too. I have always put others first, I’ve always gone out of my way to help others. It’s never been to show my knowledge, state my expertise, or to be a hero. It’s just when someone asks, I instantly (without thought) offer to help them. My answer was mostly yes, and rarely no.
People pleasers are defined as “one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say “no.” You can always count on them for a favour. In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people.”
There is nothing wrong with being a people pleaser, except for the moment you stop caring for yourself, or when those you’ve been pleasing no longer need you. This is the moment you find yourself standing there wondering what you did wrong, why they don’t want to know you anymore, or why their attitude changed towards you.
I so get it. I have been there, time and time again.
It took me a long time to learn why. I found myself constantly replaying relationships, trying to identify what went wrong. Why did they suddenly stop … Inviting me? … Spending time with me? … Hanging out with me?
Why do I refer to myself as an unintentional people pleaser? It’s because I actually never realised that I was being one. It wasn’t until a friend told me. This is when everything made sense.
When my life changed to become a mother, and my family needs became my priority. Those I was constantly pleasing became a lesser priority. I was no longer meeting their needs, and the result was my exclusion. These people no longer needed me, because I wasn’t delivering.
It can be hurtful, because you feel used. It’s not their fault. And, in many ways, it wasn’t mine either. I had no idea I was being the ‘unintentional people pleaser’.
The greatest lesson I took from this was, identifying the role I was unintentionally playing. Learning to establish boundaries and recognise when I must and need to pull back in giving. Not to be mean, but put my focus and energy on my own family needs.
You see, people pleasing doesn’t apply to just one person or a group of people, it’s generally to all. The result when you constantly people please, is you give so much away. You lose yourself in the process, and when all is taken, you’re left with pretty much nothing for yourself and questions, like why?
People pleasers need boundaries. Boundaries aren’t the enemy; boundaries are your greatest resource to protect yourself from giving too much away at the expense of your own important needs.
As a people pleaser, I would often respond to a social media post, offering everything for nothing. Not a great thing if you’re running a business. These days, there have been times where I have found myself typing a response, I then stopped to re-read it and then press delete. Nowadays, I tell myself, to let others handle it. That I have other things I need to focus on. Otherwise, I’m the person there all hours of the night playing catch up, or always rushing my own things because I’ve given too much time to everyone else.
Those moment when I stop myself and pull back are my moments of empowerment, when I know I can give, but choose to hold my boundary, keep my focus on my own priority (not everyone else’s). I can ‘people please’ when I want to, but can mindfully choose when without compromising me.
And remember, establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries takes practice. We will all trip up at one time or another. It’s okay, main thing is that we are aware of it when it happens, and we use that lesson to have a better go of taking control of what we want to give and not give next time. At the end of the day it’s you you’re compromising, no one else.
It’s lovely to be able to be able to help people, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your own basic needs and survival.
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