People-Pleasing in a Pandemic

You’ve heard of people-pleasing before, right?

People-pleasing is telling people yes when we mean no to change the way someone feels about us. And you know what? This is a complete waste of time because we can’t control the uncontrollable. We can’t control how others feel about us, just like we can’t control the smoke that’s blowing up the coast from California into Washington. It just is. When we say yes to people when we mean no, we’re not just wasting our time, we’re harming ourselves and our relationships with others.

What do I mean by that? If we do things to please other people, we end up feeling resentful, frustrated, inauthentic, exhausted, and angry. And what do you do when you feel those things? If you’re anything like me, you might unconsciously sabotage your life…maybe you take it out on yourself by eating and drinking too much to deal with your stress; your career, by blaming it for how much you’re working; or your relationships, by being angry at your loved ones for wanting too much or doing too little.

None of that feels good. And yet we do it…even during a pandemic.

We work extra-long life-sucking hours from home with kids in tow to show our boss that we’re “all-in” even though the company line is that they understand what’s going on in our lives.
We pick up the slack for our families during our workday between meetings by making dinner, unloading the dishwasher, and doing laundry.
We’re feeling squeezed by a lack of private space/time, but try not to let anyone see that it’s bringing us down.
We pivot, then we pivot again and again and again…until we’re feeling sick and dizzy.

The way we’re people-pleasing during this pandemic reminds me of the Dry Idea Antiperspirant Ad of the ’80s -“Never let them see you sweat.” Remember when Donna Karan said, “Feeling tense is understandable. Looking tense is unfashionable?” Well, in my opinion, we can do better than just slapping on some antiperspirant to cover how we’re feeling. We need to pay attention to our feelings-BIG TIME!

Our feelings are there to let us know when things aren’t quite right and that there’s something we need to pay attention to so that we don’t get emotionally drained or sick. And as far as sweat goes, sweat’s there so that unhealthy toxins are released from our bodies so that we don’t get physically sick. If we keep covering things up-feelings or sweat-we’re harming ourselves, no matter how you spin it.

So how do you stop being a people-pleaser?

Pay attention to your feelings. For many of us who people-please, we try hard to control things that we lose sight of ourselves and don’t even notice how we’re feeling inside. So, step one is to feel. Close your eyes and deliberately try to feel the feeling coming up for you when you find yourself trying to people-please. If you notice you’re feeling frustrated, angry, or resentful, ask yourself why. How come I’m feeling resentful? Dig deep and keep asking until you get down to the core reason. You’ll know when you get there because it’ll feel like a punch to the stomach. Becoming aware of why you’re doing this is the first step in changing how you show up.

Acknowledge that you can’t control other people. When you find yourself trying to people-please to make them like you, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can’t control other people no matter how hard you try and that you can only control what you think/feel/do. From that place of acknowledgment, ask yourself how you want to show up in this relationship, knowing that you can’t control anyone but yourself. Do you want to be angry, resentful, or frustrated? Calm, competent, or enough? Decide for yourself how you want to show up and become it.

Take action from that place. You are enough just as you are, and you don’t need to people-please to get ahead, make people like you, or show your worth. Instead, decide you’re enough from the start and take action from that knowledge. That means setting healthy boundaries for your work, family, and friends and deciding to be ok with the outcome. Setting boundaries means having a clear idea for yourself about what’s ok and what’s not ok for you to be healthy in all of your relationships. I promise that your interactions with people will be much richer, more genuine, and far more satisfying if you take action from this place.

It’s certainly not easy breaking the habit of people-pleasing, but it also doesn’t mean that you’ll be pissing people off by not people-pleasing. You’re simply acting from a more truthful place where you do things for other people because you want to, not because of how you think it will make them feel about you. And isn’t that so much sweeter for everyone involved-especially you?

If you want to talk about your people-pleasing ways and would like help changing them, book a free consultation me!