Anxiety and the People Pleasing Trap
Do you get caught up in a cycle of worry about what others think of you?
Do you hate upsetting or disappointing others with your actions, words or opinions?
Is it important for you to be liked and accepted by everyone around you?
Do you over commit, promising to do more than you actually have time and energy for?
When someone asks you a favour, do you automatically agree?
If you answered YES to any of these, then you may be prone to being a people pleaser.
Being a people pleaser is a behaviour that women with symptoms of anxiety may fall into at some stage throughout their lives. For others, this can be a life long pattern. What most people don’t know is that this people pleasing pattern can be underpinning many thoughts and behaviours that fuel anxiety. The constant desire for approval from others can be playing over and over in the background of your mind, monitoring your every move.
Your actions may be guided by a fear of disappointing others and not being liked, so you begin to change yourself to make sure you are. You say yes to everyone at the drop of a hat, you make sure you say the ‘right response’ every time anyone asks you a question. You agree with everyone else’s opinion and you drown out your own voice.
Making everyone else happy first becomes a relentless task. You worry about what other people are thinking of you, and you start to ‘mind read’ how people are perceiving you, pre-empting other’s reactions before you say anything. This worrying can get out of control, leading to constant fear and chronic anxiety.
This is NOT the way to live.
I used to be a people pleaser, and it sucked BIG TIME. I had no idea who I was anymore. My self-worth was based on other people’s opinions of me and it was time to finally break away from this pattern so I could be free from anxiety.
I want this for you too. So to start, follow these tips to break out of the people pleasing trap and take your life back.
1. Make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like you
And actually… that is OKAY! I am sure you don’t like everyone, and you know what – not everyone is going to like you too and that is okay – you will live! When you start to approve of yourself, you let go of the need of others having to validate and approve of you. So start working on loving and approving of YOU first.
2. Learn so say No in a way that feels okay for you
No is a word that many of us could probably be using a whole lot more. I used to say no and then make a whole lot of excuses to justify my decision, out of fear of hurting the other person.
But this just opened me up to the other person pressuring me and negotiating my No to a Yes. When this happened, my inner people pleaser was likely to give in, and I found myself doing things I didn’t really want to do.
So learn to say a strong No that feels okay for you. Do this by being truthful.
For example: “I would love to help, but I have booked in a ‘me day’ that day.”
“That sounds like a great opportunity, but I believe someone else would be in a better place to help you.”
Stick to the original answer and if the other person begins to pressure you, stand your ground, stay true to you and kindly and firmly repeat your answer.
3. Accept the guilt you will feel when you say No.
Yep feeling guilty is going to happen, because you aren’t used to saying no and putting your own needs first. You probably feel like you’re selfish or that you have let someone down. This is misplaced guilt. You have done nothing wrong, and that person will most likely find another solution to their problem. It is not your responsibility to fix everyone else’s problems.
Think about how much worst you would feel if you actually said yes. Would you be honouring you? Or would you be choosing to sacrifice your own needs to make others happy? What is more important in this situation?
Breaking out of the people pleasing pattern takes awareness and commitment to honouring YOU, but it is possible and in the long run you will be much happier and way more confident in who you are.
If you think you need some support in helping to break out of these patterns that are keeping you fearful, anxious and overwhelmed then book in a 30 minute anxiety breakthrough session with me and lets get you moving forward!