People pleasing – why it is detrimental for you and how to let go of it

You probably know the feeling of doing something just because you want someone else to be happy or to keep harmony. You probably know how it feels to sacrifice your own beliefs, your values, your needs just for the sake of harmony or the seeming happiness of another person. I certainly have... I have been the queen of people pleasing. 🤷🏼‍♀️ And most of my clients know that as well.

What is people pleasing?

First of all, I want you to know that it is okay to want good things for people. When we speak about people pleasing, it is less about becoming the opposite and becoming really mean to people and not be compassionate anymore. People pleasing means it's kind of an unhealthy behavior. It's just over the top. You sacrifice yourself for the sake of other people, other people's happiness or other people's harmony in general. You let go of taking care of yourself and totally shift into the opposite. It does not mean that it's not good to be compassionate and to take care of the emotions of other people.

People pleasing is just on the other end of the spectrum, meaning holding back on yourself and being nice to other people through sacrificing yourself.

As the word says, you please others. You are always nice. You never say no. You don't share your own opinions, your values. You are not yourself, basically. And you don't do what you necessarily want, but what you think others want to see and hear from you. It's not even that you know that for sure. You just act on this idea of "this is how they want me to be". And you try to keep harmony. So you don't do anything that would create conflict. You let others overstep your boundaries. Over and over again.

It happens in different areas.

  • In friendships and partnerships
    You have a problem voicing your own needs and you constantly do what you think they want and need. And you become kind of wishy washy. You know, quite like a slippery person. They don't know who you are actually, because you don't voice it. You don't express yourself and you don't take a stand for yourself. And you're basically available for every behavior that people show towards you.
  • In business
    You say yes to whatever behavior your clients or your prospects bring to you. You have no ability to say no. You work the whole day and night. You don't charge your worth. You don't ask for the sale. And you want to save and rescue your clients. You're super soft with them. You don't challenge them. You always think, you need to be nice to them. And with that you misunderstand that sometimes they need to be challenged and you need to hold them accountable to their potential.

What is the reason for people pleasing?

Why do we do that? It doesn't sound very healthy, does it? There are two sides to it.

  1. As a sensitive person it is a trait of you to be nice to people because you feel them. You as a sensitive person, you sense more, you have less filters, so you have to process more sensory input. You will quickly see and feel and hear more than other people when it comes to the reactions of other people, to their emotional state of being. And some of you are empaths, so you feel deeply what another person is feeling at that moment. And that means you feel the emotions of that person. The good ones and the bad ones or the happy ones and the sad ones much more strongly than the average person. And obviously, it's super hard to see others suffer. Of course, you need to understand that you can't make anyone else suffer. It's always their experience and their choice. And still, you will feel their pain and you try to avoid it, because you want to lighten that burden. And that's okay.
    You don't need to let go of that ability to feel others deeply. That's beautiful. You are a compassionate person and  someone who can sense the feelings of someone else. It's a powerful gift. And we don't want to take that away from you.
  2. And the other side is your limiting beliefs, your shadow, your unhealed parts. Not feeling enough. Not being worthy. Not feeling worthy or fear of rejection. Fear of conflict. This is the part which we want to deal with. This is the part we can work on.

    If you don't feel enough, of course you will never be able to charge your worth because you feel unworthy. And if you just charged like one Euro per hour or something, it would still not feel aligned. And if you don't heal that part, this will always show up in interactions. Fear of rejection, fear of conflict, this idea of no one will buy from me or no one will love me. This obviously leads to I will do whatever so that the other person perhaps likes me. I will do whatever because I am lacking that and I need the other person to fill my cup, whether it's a client or it's a partner or friend.

    And then there is this need and desire for approval and belonging, and you sacrifice everything in order to belong and to be approved. So this is the part we can work on.

    Keeping your sensitive traits and healing your limiting patterns, your limiting beliefs, your unworthiness, your need for approval means to still be super compassionate, to still be able to decide to be there for others. However, from a place of power and not from a place of powerlessness and neediness. That's all the difference.

Why do we need to let go of people pleasing?

You will let go of the negative aspects of people pleasing and being there for other people, and you will let go of acting out of shadow and out of your own limitations.

Others will get your real version, your full version. They will get everything. Not this watered down version. This tiny fraction of you. They will get all of you all of your emotions because all emotions are beautiful. And your clients will get your upgraded version.

By the way, I needed to learn that as well. You teach your clients what and who you are. It's not only what you teach them in skills. So you either teach them healthy boundaries or you teach them people pleasing. I experienced huge financial crisis in my business because I didn't hold clients accountable and responsible to their contracts. I thought it was the "nice" thing to do, to let them slip some payments. Until I understood that I was teaching them exactly that for their own business, I was hurting them! Being easygoing with clients (because of fear of conflict) and loosing control over their business. I explained it to them, held them accountable, created healthy boundaries and they had some of the biggest breakthroughs because of it.

When you let go of the negative people pleasing trait, you are really holding people accountable to a higher level of consciousness and expression.

You raise your standards and you raise you belief in yourself and others. 

How can we shift it?

You probably have understood by now that letting go of the negative traits of people pleasing is really helpful. Not only for you, for your business. For all the people you have contact with, your partner, your family, your kids, your parents - if you have healthy boundaries. It's amazing to let go of neediness and needing other people to step up for you, needing other people's approval.

  1. What comes first is awareness. That's a huge, big step forward already because when you then do people pleasing again, you will in that moment already cringe and see like, oh, I did it again. Therefore it becomes harder to do it. Moving it from the unconscious to the conscious is the first step forward. And then you go step for step. It's a process and it's not a single shift in behavior.
  2. Give yourself time. Start small. That means to work on yourself and your limiting beliefs and shadow. Because when you deal with the stuff in yourself, you are not searching in the outside anymore because you feel it in the inside. So when you, for example, shift that belief of unworthiness into utter and full worthiness, into a  feeling and belief of your own worthiness, you won't need that approval of others anymore because you already feel it inside. This will help you to say no in situations, because you don't need that approval anymore.
  3. There are many, many different tools how to do that. I really love journaling about what your negative beliefs are and then shift them into positive beliefs. You can even voice record your positive beliefs. Do shadow work. Another thing is to feel into your needs and desires and become crystal clear on them. Because most of the people have actually no clue what they need and want.
  4. Use a safe space to start practicing saying no and sharing your opinion. Don't practice in situations where lots can go wrong 😉 Practice standing up for yourself in safe environments. Usually the fear is the biggest part. It's not the doing itself, it's the fear of it. Grow your comfort zone, get out of your comfort zone in tiny steps. Put it into action, i.e. introduce new working hours, message your clients about it, hold yourself and them accountable.
  5. Don't do it alone. Get a coach, get support. It's a huge catalyst for change and bringing your unconscious beliefs and your unconscious behavior into your consciousness and shift it. A coach can guide you much quicker through those rapids than you can do yourself. 

It starts with you. If you keep going and keep being in your new standards, they will become the new normal for other people and they will start seeing you in your new version. Start showing up from a place of power instead of a place of powerlessness and neediness.

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