Updated: Aug 20, 2022
I have noticed a bad habit in most of my clients and I can't stop thinking about it!
It is people-pleasing. This doesn't even feel like a habit, it seems like a lifestyle! If I'm being completely honest, I used to suffer from this myself and I am so happy to have healed the wounds that led to this behavior.
When I first start discussing people-pleasing with someone I tend to get the same reaction "But if I don't do that I would be selfish. It's important to be kind and take care of people. It makes me feel good."
There is a difference between being selfish and self-centered. There is a difference between helping others and people-pleasing. I want to give you my personal definition of these words. I find we all have different meanings and interpretations of the same words, so let's get clear on language first!
Being selfish means that you have no regard for anyone else. You do things in life based on your own self-interest and what is best for you. You don't factor in other people and the impact your words, actions, or decisions may have on them. It is more like you are the center of the Universe and nobody else truly matters. Selfish people tend to be preoccupied with themselves and only concerned with their own welfare, interests, and desires.
Being self-centered is a way of living that comes from daily self-care. You are operating from a base of what would be best for your mind, body, and spirit. You realize that when you take care of yourself first that you are a much better human being for everyone around you.
People-pleasers tend to give and give until they are burned out, exhausted, and stressed. Often times they can even be resentful of all the help they give to others while not receiving the support they need in return. They are sacrificing their own needs for other people and it ends up being to their own detriment. People-pleasing can also make you feel lonely rather than connected.
Another interesting side of people-pleasing is that you so freely give of your time and energy to help others and are always there for them, but are guarded and refuse to be vulnerable enough to ask for help yourself. You don't allow others to gain the same joy from helping a friend, and that is selfish.
When you are self-centered you are still able and interested in helping others. You are simply making sure that you are leaving time for your own needs. You are not avoiding facing yourself and your own issues by being busy with taking care of everyone else. You are making sure you are not overcommitting. You are not saying "yes" when you would really prefer to say "no".
I'm sure you have heard the saying "you can't pour from an empty cup"? Well, what if your cup was so full that everyone else got the energy that was spilling over the brim? That is what life looks like when you have a more self-centered approach to life. You are taking care of your mind, body, and spirit so that you feel balanced and full of energy and joy before you take care of others. You are able to operate out of abundance rather than servitude.
The reason I think people-pleasing is a form of manipulation is that you are essentially trying to get other people to love and appreciate you because you do so much for them. You are trying to earn their love. You are trying to be the person they want you to be.
They may not even know the true you because you always adapt to what they want to do, go to the restaurants and movies they want to go to, and have conversations they lead. You may even be a totally different person based on who you are around. You may know people better than they know themselves while they know a small fraction about who you truly are.
I have some clients that have no idea what really brings them joy because they are so used to doing what everyone else wants to do and helping everyone but themselves. You lose yourself in the habit of people-pleasing. This is why the trend needs to end.
We were all born with unique gifts and have unique perspectives based on our life stories. We all have something special to bring to our friendships and relationships. We all deserve support and to be supported. Your voice matters. You matter.
You should be loved because of who you truly are. You are worthy of love simply because you exist. You don't have to sacrifice your time and energy consistently for other people in order to receive love. YOU need to give yourself some love first!
I hope this gives you something to reflect on and empowers you to start taking care of your own needs today - mind, body, and spirit! If you would like to dive deeper, please schedule a free call with me to connect and find more clarity on how you can heal.