people pleasing

Dear Jenn,

“Someone recently told me a line I'd never heard before: ‘When you stop people-pleasing, people aren't pleased.’  Ha.  I'm right in the middle of that and it's so uncomfortable and I find myself questioning my ‘right' to say no to some things.  I get confused about the difference between boundaries and responsibilities.  Aren't there some things we should do for others even though we don't want to?”

Sincerely, People Pleaser

Dear People Pleaser,

Totally love that saying!  It’s really true.  And it’s awesome that you are stepping into it even with the discomfort.  Breaking a pattern can be a very uncomfortable process.  

The people you are pleasing are used to you doing things for them, they are just as comfortable in the pattern as you are.  They are even deriving benefit from your people pleasing (it makes their life easier, they don’t have to take responsibility, they get what they want, may add more time to their day etc, etc).  So... of course they aren’t going to be pleased when you stop and say “no”.  They may even have a negative reaction which makes it even harder for you to stick to your new boundary.

Remember this: making other people happy IS NEVER our responsibility.

The only person’s happiness you are responsible for is your own and your reactions to another’s behaviour.  Stay with the discomfort.  You are stretching a new muscle and in the beginning it’s always achy and uncomfortable.  Your role is to acknowledge and be ok with the uncomfortable feelings you are left with from breaking a pattern.  It will get easier the more and more you get behind yourself.

Knowing our truth around boundaries and responsibilities can be tricky business.  Our minds can talk us in and out of anything. Your head (deep-seated beliefs that drive your behaviour) may tell you that you are responsible for something when you’re really not.  Perhaps, your deep-seated belief tells you that you need to be the provider or you need to keep people happy or you are responsible for the cooking or you must always keep the peace or you must always be there for someone yet in reality this isn’t really true, it’s what you believe to be true.  It may even be what’s keeping you miserable. 

If it doesn’t feel right to you to do something for another person then you are actually doing the other person a dis-service. If it doesn’t feel right for you ... it’s not in their best interest either (even though you/they make think it is).   When you do something against what feels right, you are enabling each other in an unhealthy pattern which messes with the authentic ebb and flow of our true nature.

To gain clarity on responsibility beliefs, you might want to do some deep inquiry to gain awareness around where this idea is coming from:

  • Get honest and ask yourself, what is my intention behind this “responsibility”? Is it really my responsibility? Am I doing this from obligation or to please another or to manipulate an outcome or to keep myself from experiencing uncomfortable emotions or from my ideas of what I think a ‘good person’ might do?
  • Tune in to your body?  What does responsibility feel like?  What does people pleasing feel like?  What does being connected to your truth feel like? Become familiar with the difference between these feelings.

You know deep in your being what is a responsibility and what is not.  Connect with that part of you and courageously step into your truth regardless of the reactions of others.  

You may even need some extra support during this time.   Ask yourself, what kind of support do I need right now to take care of myself while I’m feeling uncomfortable?  What do I need from myself?  Do I need help busting my beliefs and getting clear on my truth?  Do I need support from friends?  family?  a professional?  

It sounds like this is some really big stuff you’re working through and I’m here to support you if you need it.  Remember to be gentle and compassionate with yourself in the process.


Jenn xo

PS - If you're looking for some self-reflection, The Silent Retreat is back on June 25.

PSS - If you book the Breakthrough Intensive this week, you will receive 10% off the service if you use the password:  breakthrough