“I need to make sure everyone else is taken care of.”
“I can’t say or do what I really want because it may make other people uncomfortable.”
“I shouldn’t say or do what I really want because it will only upset and disappoint them.”
… these are some common things that us people pleasers often tell ourselves when dealing with other people. We focus completely on other people… their wants, their needs, their thoughts, their feelings, their desires… that we get completely lost in them and forget about ourselves.
It can be quite a remarkable realization when we take the time to really dive in and try to see our own inner dynamic in the works. It’s one thing to be mentally aware of it, but to see it unfold right before your eyes from a bird’s eye view is incredible.
Fortunately, I’ve had several experiences of this in the last few weeks. About two weeks ago I went to a workshop focused on energetic boundaries and relationships. It wasn’t your typical workshop of just notes and talking. Rather, it was very experiential and therapeutic. We did a lot of movement and worked both in pairs and groups in order to share and discuss our experiences.
For one activity, we worked with a partner where we were basically told to focus on ourselves and where we were while looking at another person. Then we were told to focus on the other person while looking at that person. Then try to focus on everything in the environment while looking at that one person.
The second action was very normal and easy for me. “Well, of course I should focus on this person if I am looking at them” is the sense that came over me. This felt comfortable. It felt “normal” and effortless. The third action was a little more difficult, but it was still fairly easy for me to do once I really focused on it.
The problem came in was during the first action when I had to look at the person and stay completely focused on myself. The immediate feeling that came up was “Oh my goodness. How am I supposed to focus on myself when someone else is standing right here? Isn’t that selfish? Isn’t that self-absorbed? If I’m looking at them, I need to focus my attention on them!”
Of course, the second or third time was easier with some effort and more self-awareness. However, this realization really led me to not only realize the limitations of my own natural dynamic but the dynamic of every woman who is tends to be a people pleaser: We unconsciously THINK it’s bad to focus on ourselves. For some reason, we don’t BELIEVE we deserve our own time and attention or that we should receive things that we oh-so-desperately desire.
I’ve seen this emerge in my own life in so many ways:
- Putting off going to the doctor by convincing myself “It’s not that bad”.
- Putting off going to a therapist or mentor by telling myself “I’m not THAT upset or depressed” (yeah, and this was even when I could get services for FREE at my university… crazy, right?).
- Putting off buying new clothes or shoes in hopes to save some money by telling myself “Oh I don’t really need that…” or convincing myself “I can’t afford that…”
- Struggling to accept fairly expensive gifts because I felt I then had to “owe them” somehow.
- Putting off going to graduate school and traveling because I believed “I can’t possibly afford that”.
- Putting off starting my own business because I believed “I’m not ready and I can’t afford the start up costs”.
Well, guess what? ALL of those things I listed above I HAVE ultimately done because I knew I would’ve been COMPLETELY MISERABLE later on in life if I didn’t follow my inner desire and give myself what I want. I just delayed doing it because I decided to create this inner war with myself between my lack of self-worth and what I knew I truly needed and deserved.
THAT is the biggest mistake that people pleasers make: We repress what we desire and know that we need because we don’t truly believe that we DESERVE to have it! Us people pleasers need to fully know, trust, and BELIEVE that we DESERVE to receive what we desire. Now, whenever I desire to give myself something but I find that inner critic jump in and tell me “No you don’t deserve it” is to tell myself “I know that I need this right now, so I am going to give it to myself. I deserve this!” I even do when buying some Yankee candles when the critic comes up and says “No these are too expensive! Get cheaper ones!”
It can be a tough pill for many of us to swallow because we are so naturally focused on other people and so desperately want to help other people. What helps me when this comes up is to remind myself of this quote from my absolute favorite actress Audrey Hepburn, “As you grow older, you realize that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
Simply, you honestly can’t really help others very well if you yourself are emotionally and physically drained and unsupported. Be willing to GIVE THAT to yourself!
Give yourself what you know you need today!
So what is it that you desire to have but you are not giving to yourself?
Do you have health issues but you keep putting off finding someone to help you?
Do you keep struggling with relationship problems and you keep thinking about working with a therapist or mentor but you keep telling yourself you can’t afford it or it won’t help?
Are you struggling to cope with some difficult people in your life and you keep thinking about finding some sort of help but you keep avoiding to make any commitments with an expert?
Do you want to make a career change but you keep telling yourself its not realistic?
What can you do for yourself TODAY to help give YOU want you truly deserve? Share in the comments below!