Have you ever had a date with someone where all you could think of during the date was, “I hope he thinks I'm pretty”, “What if what I order is too expensive”, “I hope that impresses him.” Your mind is racing like a mouse on a wheel with thoughts of what he thinks about you and if he liked you. And he never even asked you anything about yourself! It never crosses your mind to ask, “Do I like him?” You come home from the date after having eaten a steak dinner (and you hate steak) and seeing a movie you hated (it was violent) and you feel exhausted, tired and depressed and didn't enjoy it at all and just want to crawl into bed? Welcome to the draining world of people pleasing!
Do any of these apply to you?
It is difficult for me to say No.
I avoid speaking my mind.
I try really hard to be who someone wants me to be.
I find it much easier to go along with what someone else wants, rather than rock the boat.
If you find yourself agreeing with these statements, a Part of you may be a People P leaser. You may not even be aware you are doing it, but a Part of you may want to please others in order to avoid reactions you are afraid of. When you are people pleasing you may have a hard time setting limits or saying no, setting boundaries and want to avoid others disapproval at all costs.
What to do? First try to pay attention in the moment you feel it happening. Do you feel a knot in your stomach? Do you get fuzzy thinking? Is it only with guys? Your boss at work? Do you feel afraid? Once you understand the underlying feeling you can assure yourself that you won't be rejected and if you are you can take care of yourself. Work on saying what you want and need from other people. Pick safe people to start with and work on knowing what you think and feel and sharing it.
Start small. Reassure yourself while you are doing it that you are just taking care of yourself And finally, surround yourself with friends who will support you in trying this. Maybe it's time to get some of what you really want and start surrounding yourself with people who like you for who you really are and not because you are good at pleasing them!Maureen McNichols Ed.S, LCPC
Maureen currently is doing a training internship at The Awakening Center