Letting Go Of People Pleasing
You probably already know that living in a world full of other people can be challenging.
For people pleasers it can be even more difficult because they can’t help putting some other people first even if they don’t want to.
They can spend lots of time, money and energy trying to keep other people happy, they know it’s not good for them but they can’t help themselves.
In spite of their best efforts they struggle to speak up for themselves, and their wants and needs without fear of criticism or rejection.
If you have had enough of people pleasing then the Becoming Your Self Process I am offering may be just what you are looking for.
If you are reading this my guess is that you struggle to stand up for yourself with some people. Perhaps you find yourself trying to fit in with what they want, or what you think they want. It can be an exhausting and frustrating way to live.
Life doesn’t have to be that difficult, there are ways to comfortably be yourself and get along with people without having to go along with them all the time.
I am the first to admit that I don’t know all the answers to speaking up for yourself and living an authentic life. I’m on that journey myself (more on that later), but I do have a process which I have developed and I think will help you give up being a people pleaser and be more your authentic self.
A lot of people struggle to be fully themselves around others.
They want to be accepted and valued for who they really are, but that takes second place to keeping other people happy, even when it makes them unhappy doing it. In spite of their best intentions they find themselves saying yes when they want to say no.
They may even be afraid that if they don’t go along with the people they are trying to please they will be criticised, condemned, rejected or even abandoned.
Whatever else they try to do, they feel compelled to say yes, to agree, to pacify the other person.
It’s as if they have been programmed from an early age to please others before themselves … and, in some ways they have.
Children are very vulnerable, they need looking after for a long time before they can become independent adults. When they are growing up they may have to learn strategies to keep their parents caring for them.
In some childhoods they need to adopt people pleasing behaviours to be looked after. During childhood these strategies were essential for their physical or emotional survival.
In an ideal world as soon as we enter adulthood we would be able to let go of those childhood strategies, behaviours and feelings, becoming a well adjusted adult.
We bring what we learned in childhood with us into adulthood. If what we learned was useful then we will probably have happy and contented relationships with ourselves and others. If what we learned was based on fear of rejection or punishment then that may not serve us well in adulthood and our relationships with ourselves and others might be difficult.
Those lessons learned in childhood are powerful lessons indeed, shaping our emotions and actions into adult life, however what was learned can be unlearned.
The idea that people pleasers can change how they think and feel may be difficult for them to believe because they have probably tried a lot of different approaches to changing what they do: they may have read books and articles, used affirmations, watched videos, taken courses or been to counselling or seen a coach.
They have probably tried everything they can think of: standing up for themselves, being assertive, trying not to be bothered by what other people think, but nothing seems to make much difference.
Although those old patterns of thinking, feeling and acting as a people pleaser no longer good for you, they were originally formed to make sure you survived childhood.
When they try to be different by willpower alone some deeper part of themselves takes over and they go back to doing the same old thing over and over again.
It is that deeper part of themselves that needs to change so that being who they are, saying what they want and think will become the new normal.
Sometimes it’s more complicated than ‘just’ being afraid to speak up for themselves.
People pleasing can have some benefits that may feel hard to do without. Although it’s hard work, their efforts may get some small reward of recognition, gratitude or even love from the people they are pleasing.
It may not be much, but it feels important. It’s as if they relish their crumbs of comfort after handing over their entire meal to the person they are pleasing.
I know what this is like, I used to be a people pleaser.
Since childhood I had done my best to be nice to everybody. I was always keen to help and keen to keep everyone happy. I lived in fear of the people I liked not liking me, finding fault in me or getting angry with me.
I didn’t like what I was doing and I didn’t like myself for doing it, but I couldn’t stop myself. When I look back on it now it’s embarrassing to realise just how far I would go against myself just to keep other people happy.
While I was bending myself out of shape trying to please other people I was only being 50% myself.
Since then I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) looking for ways to be more authentic and comfortable in my own skin.
I’ve been to encounter groups, gestalt trainings, NLP and EFT trainings, Buddhist retreats and I’ve trained to be a Person Centred Counsellor, NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer and EFT Advanced Practitioner and Trainer.
On the way, I started to learn how to say what I wanted and how to say no to what I didn’t want. At long last I’m getting much better at being myself and being able to speak up for myself.
These changes have come about after a lot of work and effort, it’s been a slow process. However I’ve distilled down what worked for me to create a package that could help you (without needing 30 years of self-development).
The Becoming Your Self Process
This process is designed to help you unlearn old ways of fitting in that no longer serve you and to develop new ways of being in the world.
What we need is a way to update our ‘relationship’ software, replacing what we adopted in childhood with something more appropriate to our current situation.
Of course we are not computers and it’s not a great analogy: we can’t plug ourselves in and get a download of the latest version of ‘Human(TM)’ software, but we can unlearn what we learned and learn something new … if we know how.
The Becoming Your Self Process is one way to do that.
The Six Stages Of Becoming Your Self
The process has six parts designed to unpack and undo people pleasing patterns, replacing them with a more robust and adult way of dealing with others.
1. Identifying the people pleasing patterns
Everyone is unique, we all have our own way of doing things. The first stage of this process is to find out who you people please and how you do it. It’s the way you operate, understanding how you people please makes it easier to find the simplest way to dismantle those old patterns.
2. Soften fears about life without people pleasing
One of the main components of people pleasing is fear of the consequences of not pleasing those particular people. These, often unconscious, fears that you will be criticised, blamed, rejected or abandoned are the glue that holds people pleasing in place.
Identifying and neutralising these fears will release one of the main blocks to standing up for yourself, allowing change to happen more easily and it to be welcomed rather than feared.
3. Neutralise the emotional compulsion to people please
Once the fears have been lessened it’s possible to work on the emotional drivers that ‘force you’ to say yes when you want to say no.
All our decisions are determined by emotion (even the logical ones).
Many people feel compelled to say yes, help out, go along with what’s being asked, even it they don’t want to, because the decision is powered by uncomfortable emotions that can’t be denied.
Neutralising those uncomfortable emotions makes it easier to do things differently.
4. Clearing the roots of people pleasing
Nobody is born feeling that they need to say yes to everything that is asked of them, people pleasers learned how to do that at an early age.
By this stage of the process, the roots of people pleasing have probably been exposed and can easily and comfortably be removed.
Being set free of those parts of your past allows you to do things differently in the present and the future.
5. Satisfying the part of you that needs to be rewarded
If there is a part of you that feels valued, loved, respected and safe by pleasing other people it may feel neglected if the people pleasing stops.
In this stage of the process we give these parts new ways of feeling valued, loved, respected and safe without having to people please. With these parts of you satisfied then it is even easier to change.
6. Mental rehearsal
Athletes have used mental rehearsal for years to practice their skills. By using their imagination they try out different ways of improving their performance. In the last part of the process you will practice in the safety of your imagination some of the different ways that you could use in responding to people.
This is a chance to experience in advance what it would be like to say no to others and say yes to yourself and to deal with any potential snags or emotional residues not yet taken care of by the previous stages.
This stage makes it easier to take the changes you have made out into the everyday world.
Does this sound too good to be true?
The process I’m describing is not yet perfect (and may never be perfect) but it is good enough to take you much closer to being able to say yes for yourself and no to others.
This process is not an instant cure. You will change how you are in the world and like most changes it will take some time for them to become the new normal.
You won’t get it right first time. Like learning to ride a bike you will probably wobble a bit at first as you find a new balance. It’s normal to wobble and adjust as you learn something new, it proves that you are doing things differently.
You might have to say no to some people who are used to hearing yes. They might struggle to adjust to the new normal. The process has some steps built in to help make that transition.
The process recognises that there may be setbacks and builds in ways to make the transition to a new way of being as easy as possible.
You are going to have to make the change, to do things differently. There is no magic wand that will change everyone else so that you can stay the same.
What can I expect?
If you do this process you can expect to feel …
- safe when saying no
- less stressed, anxious or guilty
- more true to yourself
- less afraid of criticism or rejection
- more robust when dealing with other people
If you do this process you can expect to be able to ….
- say no without fear or guilt.
- tell people what you want
- express your true self
- be more relaxed and confident
- accept yourself more easily
Will this process turn you into someone who just says no to everyone and everything? No. The purpose of these techniques is to give you the choice to say no if that is right for you and the situation. Being able to choose your response rather than being driven by your childhood programming is what is important.
Will this process make me a selfish, pain in the backside who pays no attention to what other people want? No. The aim of this process is to let you judge each situation on its own merits and act accordingly. You will still be able to take other people’s concerns and needs into account (as well as your own) and say yes if the situation requires it.
Who is this for?
This process is for you if you …
- are a people pleaser who is fed up with fitting in with everybody else
- want to keep everybody happy even it makes you unhappy, stressed and exhausted.
- are afraid that if you don’t go along with what others want they will criticise, think badly of you or even reject you
- always need to keep the peace and have to soothe difficult situations
- say yes to people and feel out of balance, inauthentic or false doing it.
- secretly resent putting yourself out for other people and not getting the gratitude you feel you deserve.
- feel guilty if you don’t go along with other people and worry if you have upset them or offended them.
- feel angry with yourself for going along with what other people want.
- spend a lot of time, money and effort being everything that everyone else wants you to be.
- feel deep down that it’s not safe to say no to people, even if you want to and know you should.
- want to be able to say no and be comfortable doing it.
- want to be able to say no and not feel guilty afterwards
- want to be more authentic, more your true self.
What do I need to do?
If you want to work with me to let go of your inner people pleaser then follow these simple steps:
- Contact me by phone or email.
- Then we can have a short phone conversation to discuss your needs and whether what I have to offer is the right thing for you. It’s in our best interest to find out if we can work well together. This is important: there really is no point doing the wrong thing, for the wrong reasons with the wrong person. If I don’t think we are a good fit I will do my best to find someone for you who is better suited to your needs.
- If it seems like we are going to work well together I will send you a Confidential Client Questionnaire which you will need to complete and return to me.
- When I receive the questionnaire we can arrange our first appointment.
- Meet and get started.
How long will it take?
As with all work of a therapeutic nature it is impossible to tell how many sessions it will take to get the result that you want.
Therefore I am suggesting that the initial time investment will be eight one-hour sessions or four two-hour sessions.
If it takes less than that amount of time to get the result you want, that’s fine. If it seems like it will take more time we can negotiate that along the way.
How much will it cost?
Each one hour session will cost £50 (paid in advance)
Each two hour session will cost £95 (paid in advance)
Where do you work?
I see clients in three different therapy centres in the Tyneside area.
- Newcastle: Jesmond Therapy Centre
- Hexham: The Bodywork Centre
- Whitely Bay: The Azure Therapy Centre
Sorry, this process is not yet available via Skype or phone
There are a few constraints in place at the moment.
These are the early days of this approach and I don’t know yet whether it can be conducted via Skype or phone.
Therefore I am only seeing clients on a face to face basis in the Tyneside area.
You will need to have the time (usually during office hours) to travel and meet in Newcastle, Hexham or Whitley Bay.
At some point it may be possible to do this work online but not yet.
If you are interested drop me a line and I’ll get back to you when and if I decide to offer the process online.