Do you ever ask yourself:
"Why don't other people treat me as well as I treat them?"
After all, you're so considerate and kind - it can seem like a mystery that they don't treat you in the same way.
The chances are that you're approaching those relationships from a very common limiting belief.
That is, the mistaken idea that you need to please people. It’s so very common. Most of us pick up this keep people happy idea in early childhood because, back then, it was a way of getting love and attention from the people who cared for us.
This way of thinking works very well in childhood. After all if you kept others happy, you got rewarded with attention and validation. So of course it was a good idea. Then.
However, as an adult, the people pleasing approach doesn't help at all - in fact it makes relationships really hard work, and it strips away our confidence.
If your happiness is dependent on other people's acceptance and approval of you; well that puts you in a pretty precarious situation. We all lead busy lives; other people have their own challenges to deal with, and their own goals and plans. You can't always rely on someone to be in a positive frame of mind, or to have the time and space to give you the attention you want from them.
In most cases someone doesn't mean to be unkind, but if they're distracted or busy, they can quite easily end up disregarding you without even realising they're doing so.
If you have the habit of pleasing them, to gain their attention and validation, you make yourself powerless to their current state of mind or situation. That's not fair on you, or on them.
The solution is to recognise that you have the People Pleasing belief. Then, to let it go and begin providing the majority of love and validation for yourself. It's like becoming your own best friend.
The majority of us get to this point in life where we recognise there's a people pleasing thing going on, and decide to make changes to become more authentic and confident. I did, and I've helped hundreds of people do the same.
Do You Have The People Pleasing Belief?
One way of knowing if you have this belief (and many people do) is to look at the following checklist. How many of these seem familiar to you?
The urge to keep other people happy in order to be liked and to avoid rejection can be very strong indeed, and those people we’re trying to please may well take advantage without even realising they’re doing so. Odd as it may sound, even the nicest, most well-meaning of people can disregard a ‘pleaser’ in this way.
There’s a good reason for this. Subconscious Communication.
Are You Giving Out The Wrong Signals?
A lot of the time we tend to think of communication as being open, and easily recognisable:
- You say something, I hear it
- I say something back, you hear it
… and so it goes on.
Much of the time, though, we communicate indirectly and in subtle ways. We do this by the signals we give each other, through our behaviour and by the way we treat ourselves. People make ‘Subconscious Psychological Agreements’ all the time; subtle signals indicating what they expect from each other.
When we approach life from the belief ‘I have to please people,’ we unwittingly set up one of these subconscious signals that we really dont mind putting someone else's needs before our own.
The Pleasing People Agreement Goes Something Like This:
‘I will put up with your stuff; you don’t need to think about my needs, but I’ll always be understanding of your needs and make sure you’re OK. Then I can be happy because you’ll like me and think I’m a good person and want to be around me.’
Like Amanda, one of my clients who said
‘I must have “TREAT ME LIKE AN IDIOT” tattooed on my forehead’. ‘Why are people so awful to me?
I try really hard to be nice, but they still treat me like dirt!’
Everyone in Amanda’s life; her family friends and work colleagues treated her poorly no matter how hard she tried to please the,
Amanda was always eager to give her friends a helping hand; she offered to babysit, she helped them decorate, and she walked people’s dogs and looked after their cats. She told me she was always offering to help other people because she thought that they would be nice to her in return. But these friends very often took Amanda for granted.
Amanda assumed that she was unhappy because of the way other people treated her. She hadn’t ever considered that by looking for validation from other people she was forgetting to look to herself. This realisation helped her feel more empowered. She began to see that instead of seeking happiness outside of herself from other people, she could start from within.
Amanda’s story is very common. We get so caught up in chasing approval from others that we forget to stop and look at ourselves and remember our own self worth.
If you recognise yourself as a people pleaser, then you’re certainly not alone!
It is entirely possible to overcome this habit so that you can move forward to have much more confidence and healthier, happier, relationships.
I've spent the past 25 years helping people gain confidence, overcome anxiety and have happier relationships.
Now I'm sharing all my tools, tips and techniques on assertiveness and loving relationships in my latest book.