People pleasers are often told to reject their basic nature of generosity in order to stop feeling unappreciated and drained. They are told to practice saying “No!”
But if you’re a people pleaser yourself, you know that this advice might feel really uncomfortable to you.
Not to mention the fact that it probably makes you feel like their is something wrong with wanting to look after others and make them happy.
Well, I’m here to show you a new way to stop feeling taken advantage of and unloved.
A way that doesn’t involve completely reworking your personality.
A way that will allow you to feel proud of your giving, harmony-loving nature and to actually start getting the credit for it that you deserve.
The Real Reason People Pleasers Don’t Typically Enjoy Happy Relationships
If you’ve been told you are a people pleaser, or a pushover, or a doormat, then you know that being hyper-concerned about whether others are happy with you has often backfired big time.
Being eager to please and willing to do anything for approval or avoid conflict can result in other people disrespecting you, taking advantage of you, and in circumstances where none of your needs are met whatsoever.
But why is that, exactly?
What is it about people pleasing – trying really hard to avoid upsetting others and to cater to them – that makes them value you less and barely acknowledge you at all?
Of course there is the standard (and party correct) explanation that if you show others that you do not prioritize your own needs, then they won’t either.
But there is another reason that doesn’t get talked about as much. A reason that will shine a lot of light onto why your harmony-loving ways have robbed you of healthy relationships.
You see, when you constantly shut down your own needs in favor of elevating someone else’s, you are making yourself invisible.
And while yes, some selfish people love to take advantage of a willing self-sacrificer, plenty of other perfectly good people end up feeling a vague sense of skepticism and distrust around them instead.
They think (or perhaps more accurately, they feel) to themselves:
Who is this person so eager to sacrifice themselves for me?
Now, I want to be clear: it’s not exactly a suspicious kind of distrust.
I would call it more of a subtle uneasiness.
And it’s because most good people seek two things when interacting with other people.
When you allow pleasing others to completely eclipse your own preferences, other people feel weird about not knowing what you’re about.
They don’t have enough information about you to reciprocate your kindness. And they don’t have enough information to relate to you emotionally.
So they just feel uncomfortable around you. And even though you may be so sweet, kind, skilled, and totally awesome, they don’t have the materials needed to develop a real relationship with you.
And you’re left feeling used and crappy, even if when you’re managing to avoid selfish jerks.
The Essence of Mutually Beneficial People Pleasing
So, learning how to stand up for yourself around jerks (or avoid them altogether) isn’t the complete answer to your problems as a people pleaser.
The other half of the equation is, ironically, doing an even better job at people pleasing (with good quality people only, of course)!
This post is going to help you use – instead of throw away – your desire to make people happy and comfortable.
You’re going to get better at giving the people around you the proper materials they want to have in order to give you the love and appreciation you deserve.
A Few Steps to People Pleasing Your Way to Nourishing Emotional Connections
Hopefully you’re starting to see that the ticket to enjoying your relationships isn’t morphing into a different person but becoming an even better skilled version of your generous, giving self.
The key to accomplishing this is learning to start revealing yourself – your preferences, your desires, and your dislikes – to the people in your life in order to put them at ease and give them the tools to be a good friend to you.
But as easy as that sounds, it’s a little bit complicated. And that’s because as a people pleaser, you may have buried your true desires nearly 6 feet under ground.
Here is a list of steps that can help you find and communicate your preferences to people who will give you the love you crave:
Practice Pushing Your Comfort Zone Around Acquaintances First
If you have identified as a people pleaser for any length of time, you’ve probably familiarized yourself with the idea that it can come with some pretty heavy boundary problems. Sometimes these can even go so far as to be called co-dependency.
For this reason, it’s important to start your journey with revealing the true you in situations that won’t trigger any powerful instincts to pathologically merge with a close family member or friend.
Pick acquaintances instead – perhaps some people you’ve started to see in a new class you’re taking or at the food co-op you’ve recently joined.
Work colleagues are also a good fit because relationships with them will automatically be light and slightly arms-length.
Observe Your Instincts Carefully
Once you’ve identified a few people with whom you’d like to practice asserting your true desires and needs, the next step is take a careful inventory of your first social instincts.
This is because, oftentimes, what you want to do for others might actually be a clue as to what it is that you really want.
If you feel out of touch with your preferences to the point that you can’t easily access them in social situations, pay very careful attention to your initial giving instincts.
Ask yourself things like:
Am I inclined to make sure people are physically comfortable because I want to be physically cared for?
Am I a good listener because I want people to listen to me?
Do I bring a nice dessert to every party I attend because I myself love having a great dessert at the end of meal?
Once you’re empowered with the answers to these (and other similar) questions, you can begin to do two things:
- You can prepare to share your preferences with others.
For example, the next time someone says to you “Should I bring anything?” you can say “You know, it would be great if you grabbed some cup cakes or cake on your way over! Thanks!” instead of “Oh, no, don’t worry about it.”
Or, you can ask your friend at work if she minds listening to your dilemma about what to wear to your brother-in-law’s wedding instead of always being the one doing the listening.
- You can be there for others in their own “love language” (instead of yours).
Treating people how we wish we were treated is a very human thing to do.
Sometimes, though, it’s especially pronounced in people pleasers because of their own repressed desires.
Unfortunately, offering up kindness that isn’t in tune with what another person wants or needs actually has a negative impact on relationships – the “receiver” ends up feeling uncomfortable and misunderstood.
Once you’re in tune with your own desires, you won’t accidentally mix them up with the desires of other people. You’ll be able to use your powerful empathy skills and generosity to be there for people in a way that feels amazing to them.
By carefully analyzing your giving instincts you’ll become better in touch with your own desires and the desires of the people around you. Using this information to tweak how you interact will set you up for tons of genuine appreciation and love.
Give and Watch
The last thing that you can do to make sure that you’re getting appreciated for your caring nature is to do what I like to call “Give and Watch.”
Once you’ve used your empathy muscles to find the most needed way to be of service to others, extend yourself in small doses only.
Then, take a step back and watch. Observe how they react.
You’re not looking for a quid-pro-quo here or immediate reciprocation, but you are watching out for warm appreciation.
I know it’s popular to embody the attitude that you shouldn’t give with expectations, and that’s true to a degree – you shouldn’t hope that someone immediately does something for you in return.
But do you really want to deepen a friendship with someone who doesn’t at least let you know they value your generous nature?
Making sure that people pleasing doesn’t eat you alive is distinctly tied to surrounding yourself with other generous and caring people!
Lean In to Your Giving Nature to Inspire Genuine Gratitude
When we meet a new person and spend the whole time pre-occupied with their impression of us, their comfort level, and their preferences, we make them really, really uncomfortable (unless they are takers, in which case they get really excited about ways they might take advantage of us).
This can be a big problem in the lives of people pleasers.
However, instead of taking the conventional wisdom and toughening yourself up and learning to say “no,” it’s far better to focus more on truly upping your social prowess and inspiring good quality people to love you naturally and spontaneously.
If stating your simple, unapologetic preferences and desires makes you really uneasy, remind yourself that this actually puts people at ease and makes them feel comfortable!
Practice balancing being giving and understanding with revealing your own preferences and desires.
Then, give slowly and cautiously to the new people you meet.
When you find people who warmly appreciate your giving nature and take the time to accommodate your preferences, too, you’ll feel more socially fulfilled than you ever have in your life.
It is possible!
Now, I’m curious – Have you ever heard this advice before? Have you ever tried it? Let me know in the comments!