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How I Stepped Out Of The Vicious Cycle Of Pleasing Others

How I Stepped Out Of The Vicious Cycle Of Pleasing Others

Everyone needs to be safe, loved and to have a sense of belonging. These are innate and natural basic human needs. In an effort to have these needs satisfied, many of us resort to people pleasing. And it works for a while. We find that we experience less conflict with others, but the conflict within ourselves grows. Saying “no” produces feelings of guilt, and saying yes brings anger and resentment. It is the quintessential dilemma–  you find yourself caught between a “rock and a hard place.”

The longing for acceptance which lead to people pleasing, began for me at a very young age. My father was in the military so we relocated frequently. I experienced being “the new kid” a lot. Being naturally introverted further complicated matters as I was shy and did not make friends easily. I was naturally “book smart” and making good grades came fairly easy–but being smart–back then–was not on trend as it is today.

To further complicate matters, I grew up in a household where grades, image and how others perceived our family was very important. In our household a “C” was unacceptable, a “B” should have been an “A” and an “A” meant the class was to easy and we needed to be moved to a higher level class. I was too skinny, my sister was too fat and my brother’s lips and ears were too big for his tiny head (actually true–but not his fault).

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People pleasing became a way of life.

By: Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget
    Photo Credit: Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget on Wikimedia

    How to stop pleasing others just for the sake of acceptance

    The ability to stop pleasing others as a coping mechanism after it has been a way of life for so long is easier said than done. It’s a long process one in which I consistently am working to perfect.

    The turning point for me came shortly after I married my husband. He was a people pleaser as well. We found very earlier in our marriage that in order to remain married and have a successful future together we would have to stop pleasing others and do what was best for us as a unit. That meant learning to say “no” and making people upset.

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    Best decision we ever made.

    One of the very first things we did to end the cycle of catering to others was developing our own identity as individuals and then as a couple. A funny thing happens when you know who you are–you begin to care less about what others think of you.

    The second thing that really changed our lives and helped us stop pleasing others was the develpoment of a strong set of core values and a vision for our future. We determined what was important to us, established our non-negotiables and made all of our decisions based on these factors. We developed a habit of discussing all decisions with each other. And this was especially crucial during the initial stages of our transformation. Saying “no” is just hard for some people. It was extremely difficult for us. So, instead of making a decision the moment a request was made, we always told the person we would get back to them. If we could not discuss it and at least sleep on it, the answer, most often, was a no. When we would discuss pending decisions and if the answer was no, we would assist each other with framing the response and then provide support in helping each other stick to the decision.

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    The third and one of the most valuable things we did during this process was developing our own personal sphere of influence. These are people we surrounded ourselves with who are, older, wiser and more successful than we are and whose opinions we value deeply. The sphere was and still remains very small. Our sphere is objective, holds a similar value system that we have and above all else– is honest with us.

    The last thing we did was come to an understanding that sometimes helping people actually hurts them. When we are quick to swoop in and rescue individuals or remain at their beck and call, we actually create a system of co-dependence which inhibits them from every being their best selves. Struggle is essential to success. Struggle strengthens character, builds tenacity and resilience and forces people to use ingenuity an grit. Sometimes allowing a person to struggle is the best thing you can do for them.

    Now, when I am approached to attend an after hours office party which I vehemently do not want to attend; I square my shoulders, look my co-worker dead in the eye and say, “I would love to, but my cat just died.”

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    I am still a work in progress.

    Featured photo credit: Hobvias Sudoneighm via flickr.com

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    Denise Hill

    Speech Writer/Senior Editor

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    Last Updated on August 21, 2018

    15 Signs You’re an Old Soul and Think Differently

    15 Signs You’re an Old Soul and Think Differently

    If you’ve often felt slightly removed from the worries of today and miss the simplistic life of a time gone by, or somehow feel a little out of sync with what your peers are concerned with, there’s a chance you may be an old soul.

    Being an old soul refers to how you view and approach life.

    Your views echo those of someone much older than you, who has lived a long and fruitful life. You approach life with a greater sense of knowledge and wisdom coupled with a greater sense of inner wealth.

    If you’ve ever met an exasperated 10 year old saying, “Kids today are so…”, or a 28 year old who says, “In my day…”, an awful lot, chances are you’re in the presence of a beautiful old soul. They’re often perplexed, and unable to relate to the things people their own age consider fun, or important, and so feel out of place.

    They look at life through a vignette of experiences they may not have lived, yet, but somehow, just seem to know.

    So if you’ve ever felt like you’ve lived before, and you have a wealth of wisdom you can’t explain, chances are you have been reincarnated—

    —or maybe, you’re just an old soul!

    Here are some tell-tale signs to help you find out if you’re an old soul.

    1. You know there’s another way to do things.

    You often say things like, “I have a feeling this will work”, or “there’s no harm in trying.” People may view your suggestions as outdated or done, but you know that sometimes, just sometimes, the tried and tested ways of doing things are best. Hey, if it ain’t broke…

    You feel that not all problems require a new and innovative solution, and going round in circles when the answer may be staring you in the face is usually a waste of valuable time, and energy.

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    You have no problem trying out new things, but know, too, that oldies can also be goodies.

    2. You give advice well beyond your years.

    You somehow seem to know how to do things you haven’t even done yourself yet. It’s like you’ve lived before, and just know how it all works. People often look at you with that “how do you know?” expression, and you respond with a confident, “I just know!”

    Truth is, you do just know, but don’t know how you know. Those people who come to you for advice, though somewhat freaked out by your amazing prophetic powers to impressively offer solutions and predict outcomes, trust you wholeheartedly and don’t doubt your authenticity.

    3. You like to think things through.

    Even the most impatient of people will need to think things through if they are an old soul at heart. You need that time to maul it over in your head.

    It’s an important part of your to-do process, and it enables you to move forward in the direction most in sync with your mind, body and soul.

    To you, not being able to think things through, even a little, leaves you feeling uneasy, and that does nothing to help.

    4. You don’t waste time asking why.

    After you’ve thought things through, you move ahead, confident in the knowledge that you’ve done all you needed to do to get going.

    You don’t waste time in trying to justify it to yourself or anyone else. You have little time and patience for the nonsensical and would prefer to utilize your time getting things done, rather than sitting around talking about getting things done.

    In the end, you understand that whatever you do, you trust that all things work out just as they are supposed to, and you don’t want to question that wonderful process.

    5. You don’t like to go out just for the sake of going out.

    It’s quality over quantity for you. You love to go out and have fun, but going out because others feel it is required, or you look boring if you don’t, holds no merit for you.

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    When you go out, you’d like to experience something; something that resonates with your way of perceiving the world and challenges you.

    You’ll happily spend money on those things that give you wonderful experiences and broaden your horizons. Going out just because, seems pointless to you; you’d rather save your time, and money, and do something of quality.

    6. You have an appreciation for old literature.

    You respect the classics. You’re often found getting euphorically high off old books. You’ve probably sniffed a good few old books in your time, and you don’t care who sees.

    For you, old literature should be respected and valued; they hold history and historical experience between their pages and deserve to be exalted.

    7. You have old ears.

    You love and appreciate the classics and have a longing for the musicality of those nostalgic tunes. Your record (that’s right, record!) collection looks like a retro music store. Probably only 10% of your collection consists of what you refer to as “nowadays” music, the rest are from decades gone by.

    You know only a handful of today’s artists, and that’s only because you haven’t heard an album yet to rival your favorite Grateful Dead album, or your favorite Frank Sinatra track.

    You don’t go out of your way to avoid modern music, it just doesn’t seem to whet your appetite. So you’ll happily pump your beloved Janis Joplin or Nat King Cole all the way home. Heaven!

    8. You see no need in being unnecessarily stressed.

    You don’t invite drama just because it makes you feel alive, no, you’d much prefer to live without it.

    You appreciate the quiet, and invite peace. It’s become apparent to you that the world views stress and busyness as being productive.

    But you know that being productive has nothing to do with being crazy busy or stressed, but everything to do with how well you utilize your time.

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    So you’re mindful about what you spend your hours doing, and make sure your doing something worthwhile, and not just keeping busy for busy sake.

    9. You love to meet new people.

    To you, talking to people is enriching and adds to your experience of the world. This isn’t because you just can’t help chit chatting, but more so because you are genuinely fascinated by those you share this planet with, who can offer different perspectives.

    You love being able to swap stories with people you’ve only just met. Plus, it also serves to make those trips to the bank all the more interesting!

    10. You value deep connections.

    For you, it’s all about quality over quantity. You require a deeper connection with those around you in order to feel any connection at all.

    Half-hearted friendships, surface-level relationships and fly-by-night hook-ups are not your thing. You value the essence of deeper friendships and long lasting relationships, as you give yourself wholly to them, too.

    11. You love learning.

    Nothing gets you going more than learning more about yourself, other people and the world around you.

    For you learning is growth, and growth is part of life. As an old soul, you approach learning from the understanding that it doesn’t have to lead anywhere, for example, a degree or certificate.

    Sure, those things are great and offer a sense of accomplishment, but for you it’s the act of learning something new and wonderful that motivates you, not the initials after your name!

    12. You don’t see the fuss about the latest craze.

    Following others just to fit in? Where’s the fun in that? To you, being a style chaser or tech follower is something you can never quite get your head around.

    Sure you may even own a Kindle or you may have an iPad, but now they sit there, gathering dust, because you miss the feel (and smell) or the real thing, and computer works just fine.

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    You don’t really care whether you’re an early adopter or a late comer. None of the things defines you, and you’re okay with that.

    13. You value the company of those much older than you.

    You want to drink in their wisdom and you hang on their every word as they tell you stories of their youth. You laugh at their accounts of old trends, and cry at the war stories, you reminisce with them about long lost loves, and actually listen to their pearls of wisdom.

    At a time when we seem to have less and less time for the more mature among us, the old soul has nothing but time to give. That’s because you appreciate what they have to share, and let’s be honest, you secretly wish for a time when life seemed so simple.

    14. You are the epitome of calm.

    You are the steadfast one, the one neither swayed, nor toppled, even in a crisis. You probably say things like, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast,” and tell people to “Get a grip!”

    To everyone else, you appear disconnected, but to those who know you well, you’re actually hard at work, you just work differently.

    You’ve learned that nothing actually gets done if everyone is running around losing their heads; someone needs to be the calm force. This is just how you make sense of what is happening.

    You stop. Wait. Listen. Then decide what steps to take next.

    15. You truly understand what it means to give.

    To you, there’s no better way to live, than to give.

    Giving your time, or money or those things you simply have no need for is the most rewarding thing anyone can do with their short time on earth. It isn’t an ego thing, far from it.

    For you, giving is the purest act of love. Plus, you see no point in holding on to things you cant take with you, so you’re more than happy to travel light!

    Featured photo credit: Portrait of fashionable well dressed man with beard posing outdoors looking away, confident and focused mature man in coat standing outside at sunny evening, elegant fashion model via shutterstock.com

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