People pleasing is on our list of the top 10 ways that intelligent women self-sabotage.

What is People Pleasing?

People-pleasing is fundamentally a search for approval. We are wired to want to want others to like, value, and approve of us, however, in the pursuit of external validation, there’s a risk of losing touch with our true selves.

Without getting into my own (vast) stories with people-pleasing I want to offer the following: People-pleasing isn’t only about being too nice and caring too much or just about needing love and validation. People pleasing is also:

1. A fantastic excuse to put off the often difficult and intimidating task of focusing on yourself.

2. A habit of taking responsibility for the feelings of others (something we can never control).

People pleasing is dishonest. If we frequently tell others what they want to hear instead of sharing our genuine thoughts and feelings, it’s not overt lying, but rather a gradual erosion of our authenticity.

Why stop people pleasing? Over time, the stress of holding back and ignoring your needs can build up to cause anxiety, resentment, and emptiness.

The People Pleasing Paradox

The more we seek external validation through people-pleasing, the more we distance ourselves from our genuine selves. The irony is that while we strive to please others, we sacrifice the authenticity that drives genuine connection.

People Pleasing and Confidence

Simply put confidence and people-pleasing work opposite each other. When people step out of the people-pleasing pattern and focus on being true to themselves, they are nurturing real confidence. This confidence isn’t dependent on others’ views but is grounded in knowing and accepting oneself.

The Negative Impact of People Pleasing

People-pleasing behaviours can have long-term consequences, for example:

  1. Career Stagnation:
    Constantly saying yes at work with the aim of pleasing others may seem like a good short-term strategy, but long-term can shift the focus from strategic career moves to merely meeting immediate expectations. Accumulating more responsibilities to gain approval will increase stress and juggling an overwhelming workload can hinder your ability to focus on your professional development. Also, the fear of disappointing others might lead to taking on tasks that are beyond your capacity, preventing you from showcasing your true skills and talents.
  2. Unfulfilled Personal Goals:
    If you decide to set aside or give up something that means a lot to you just because you believe it doesn’t align with what others expect from you, over time this can contribute to a sense of unfulfillment and longing for what could have been.
  3. Emotional Exhaustion:
    Picture yourself saying yes to every event, fearing that declining might let others down. Initially, it might seem like a way to maintain connections and avoid conflict. However, as you consistently prioritize others over yourself, you may find yourself attending events when you’re tired, overwhelmed, or in need of personal time. This habitual pattern of neglecting your own well-being leads to emotional exhaustion.
  4. Identity Loss in Relationships:
    Adjusting your preferences, opinions, and behaviours to align with what you believe others want or expect from you comes at a cost – the gradual loss of your authentic self. The things that make you unique, your genuine likes and dislikes, and your personal aspirations take a backseat to the perceived needs of the relationship. This process of moulding and adapting can be subtle at first, but over time, this adaptation becomes a significant contributor to identity loss.
  5. Diminished Self-Worth:
    This erosion of self-worth is a slow and subtle process. You might not notice it immediately, but as you consistently downplay your needs and desires in favour of pleasing others, you may start to question your own value and contribution. The more you compromise your authentic self for external validation, the more you risk losing a sense of your own worth independent of others’ opinions.

Breaking the Habit of People Pleasing

If you’re aware of the negative impact people pleasing is having on your life and you’ve acknowledged the need for change to get new results Alignment Coaching can help. It’s like a container to build your confidence, keep you focused, help identify your blind spots, and allow you to feel more comfortable making new decisions. Breaking the habit of people-pleasing is a gradual process that involves small, intentional steps. It doesn’t mean neglecting others, it’s about maintaining healthier relationships and preserving your mental and emotional energy for the moments that truly matter.

Coaching to Stop People Pleasing

The coaching container, whether it be group coaching or personal coaching provides guidance, support, and accountability while you go through the following:

Increased Self-Awareness:

Have you ever found yourself agreeing to plans you’re not thrilled about, just to avoid disappointing someone? Mindset coaching helps you recognize your people-pleasing triggers faster so that you can respond more consciously. It also helps you get clarity on your patterns, why you are behaving the way you are, and what results come from those patterns.

Shift in Perspective:

You will learn to identify and challenge negative thoughts or beliefs that fuel your people-pleasing tendencies. Recall the last time you hesitated to share a unique idea at work because you thought it might not align with everyone else’s thoughts. Mindset coaching shifts that perspective. It’s like realizing, “My ideas are valuable even if they are totally different.”

Establishment of Healthy Boundaries:

Think about the last time you took on an extra work task even though you were swamped. With mindset coaching, you learn to set boundaries. It’s like saying, “I appreciate the opportunity, but I need to ensure I do justice to my current workload.” You can start by saying “no” to minor requests or situations to build your confidence in setting boundaries.

Cultivation of Assertiveness:

Get good at expressing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions even when they differ from others. Ever held back from expressing your preference in a group because you feared disagreement? Mindset coaching cultivates assertiveness. It’s like confidently saying, “I have a different idea that I believe could work well for us,” without fearing rejection.

Mindful Decision-Making:

Imagine a friend asking for your help, and before immediately saying yes, you pause to consider your schedule. Mindset coaching introduces mindful decision-making. It’s like thinking, “Can I genuinely commit to this without stretching myself too thin?” before agreeing.

Here’s the thing. If you’re ready you can do this. I’ve coached women from all over the world and I promise that you don’t need to be a people-pleaser forever no matter how long you’ve been doing it. And even though the first steps may feel awkward and uncomfortable, it gets easier over time.

You’ve got this.

P.S. Getting started and getting results can happen fast once you decide to commit to yourself.
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