“Hello, my name is Eric and I’m a people pleaser.”
By far the most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog and the one that seems to deeply connect with the most people is:
In this post I lay out some of the key signs of being a people pleaser and then offer some tips to help overcome this terrible and self destructive personality trait.
What I found interesting, though, was just how many people could clearly associate with being a people pleaser. If you read through some of the comments you’ll see that many had no problem laying out their life story knowing that they were among fellow pleasing addicts. And those who really got the message had a tone of relief as if a heavy burden had been lifted from their shoulders.
Since writing that post I’ve spoken with many readers about the topic and I’ve come to realize that this is not only a common issue for many, but that the end result is a certain faded version of the individual. Just like pouring water into a glass of fine wine, those who are actively living out their people pleasing personality are quickly diluting their very existence.
In the above mentioned blog post I painted my thoughts on the subject using a broad brush. With this post, however, I would like to refine my focus. So let’s talk about making decisions…
Never Fear Making A Bad Decision, Only Fear Others Making Decisions For You
As a people pleaser it’s easy to give decision making control over to others. Not only are we often suffering from some form of low self-esteem, but our desire to do what we think others want us to do is often stronger then that of taking control of our lives. The problem with this unhealthy habit is that we are diluting our decision making data.
When we truly make our own decisions we are able to gather useful information based on the outcome. Regardless of whether the decision was right or wrong the information provided by the result will prove equally useful for better decision making in the future. If a child decides to touch a hot stove and gets burned they will have learned just as much as if they touched cold water to sooth their skin.
This is the natural way that our brains use our senses (including our 6th sense…those gut feelings we have) to learn how to improve our way of life. From learning what not to touch so we don’t get burned to better understanding our sense of others. The problem with people pleasing is that it disrupts this process and dilutes the information our brains are trying to absorb.
The reason people pleasing is so destructive to this data is because the results observed when letting others decide your direction is tainted. Even if you encounter a positive outcome from a people pleasing based decision you will find no use for that data because it tells you nothing about how your own decision would have turned out. In other words, it’s better to make a bad decision then to let someone else make a good decision for you. In the short run you may be better off with the latter, but down the road your ability to make your own good choices will atrophy as a result.
Resentment Is Often The Result Of Allowing Others To Direct Your Decisions
When we make a bad decision it can sting for a bit but in the end we live an learn. But when we make a bad decision and we know that this decision was not the one we wanted to make from the start, we can be devastated.
The saying goes, “You’ve made your bed and now you have to lay in it.” Yet as people pleasers we are constantly laying in a bed made by those around us. Considering the mess of decisions based on who knows how many personalities and agendas, we find ourselves frustrated that our own less than ideal situation is the result of other peoples mistakes. Resentment, no doubt, ensues.
The problem is that we have no one to blame but ourselves. Because the one choice that we people pleasers always seem to make on our own is to hand over the keys to our own lives.
You Are No Longer You
As time goes on the active people pleaser will become less and less like the unique individual they had come into this world to be. Just like that water polluted glass of wine, the people pleaser has been so diluted by the people around them that they lose their distinct taste. So afraid of being disliked or disagreeable they end up being left with little personality. And let me tell you, it’s better to be loved by some and hated by others then to only be liked by all. Some may love wine and hate beer or love beer and hate wine, but no one likes a watered down version of either.
The First Steps
There’s nothing more freeing then finally making your own decisions, but the first step is giving yourself permission.
As a people pleaser I know first hand how hard it is to let myself grab the wheel and push everyone else into the back seat. We feel guilty for even considering such a thing, but how crazy is that?! This is our life and we are the ones who have to walk in our shoes or lay in the bed we’ve made. So the idea that we should have any form of guilt for taking charge of our lives and finally directing our future is insane! So stop listening to that little people pleasing voice and start making your own decisions, finally gathering that ever important data.
You’ve Got To Walk Before You Can Run
If you’re like me you’ve been trying to please the world around you for decades. As a result we find our 6th sense to be immature at best. Once we decide to break free from our people pleasing ways we may find the road ahead to be a bit bumpy at first. Going too far in one direction and then not far enough, we have to be patient as we feel out our new dedication to making our own decisions and in time we’ll greatly improve the accuracy of our intuition.
Never Let Fear Dictate Your Decisions
If you’re a people pleaser then you will no doubt relate to this scenario. You’re faced with a tough decision, one which will directly effect others. Your first thought is a clear take on what direction you should go. Yet moments later your judgment is clouded by the fear of what if. What if so and so did such and such when I decide to do this or that? We try and play out the scenario in our minds to find the path of least resistance. But the bottom line is that the only path should be the one you feel is best. And the moment you stop letting your fear of the unknown outcome dictate your decisions is the moment you will be free to live your life like a glass of fine wine, providing a distinct flavor to the world around you.
So stop trying to please and start learning to live your best life possible!