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THE MYTHS OF PEOPLE PLEASING

INTRODUCTION

  • There are five key common myths surrounding people pleasing and they show up time and time and time again in experiences.
  • It's vital to get these widely held but nonetheless false or certainly very distorted beliefs out in the open so that they can be challenged and dismantled.
  • By opening up your awareness about these beliefs, it also becomes clear about where you're setting up for pain or even double-standarding yourself.
  • It's likely that one or two in particular resonate with you.

 

#1 It is wrong to disagree with people, to point out where something is wrong, or to correct something. This is intolerance!

It's this belief that by being a people pleaser, that you're super tolerant of others when actually, not only do you specifically choose to avoid disagreeing etc, due to underlying motivations to avoid feeling, thinking, or doing certain things, but you're not as tolerant as you believe in the wider sense. As a pleaser, you tolerate what you do with a view to influencing others to adapt their behaviour and thinking further down the line. You people please in lieu of standing up for you and actually, you tolerate the unacceptable to the detriment of yourself.

Pretending to agree with people, squeezing out your true self, not voicing feedback and yeah criticism, as well as allowing things that are wrong to stand, is not tolerance and I bet you it doesn't feel all that pleasing to you either.

Voicing opinions and expressing feelings is how we not only get to know ourselves but also how we get to know and interact with others.

Disagreeing is a very healthy and necessary part of life. No you don't want to be disagreeing all the time because that's disagreeing for disagreeing's sake or possibly refusing to accept that you and a person have very different outlooks and values, but equally not having an opinion on anything and never disagreeing is a code red alert. It's a sign that you're suppressing and stewing.

Disagreeing is not wrong - it's actually the right thing to do in order to discover your own position on something or the position of another. You are not under license or court order to agree with everybody. The fact that a person doesn't share the same outlook and values as you doesn't invalidate yours. It will not make you more 'pleasing' to them if you try to pretend that you think, feel, and act as they do even though you don't, or if you attempt to merge; it will just make you inauthentic.

And you know what? Yes there are people out there who are very,"It's my way or the high way" and will feel very put out if you don't sign up to their outlook but your job here on earth is not to agree with everyone. You are allowed to say no, you're allowed to disagree, and it is wrong to take up a position that is not yours, especially if it affects your sense of self or even puts you in danger.

It's also OK to point out that something is wrong. You would be amazed at how many pleasers I've heard from who have squirmed internally and yet remained silent and continued engaging with people who have intolerant views or engage in exceedingly shady behaviour. No it's not your job to teach people how to be respectful grown-ups but it is OK to say, that something is wrong or that it doesn't work for you, or to point out how wrong something is through action - distancing yourself or opting out of the situation. I've heard from women who have continued going out with men who admit to chasing after / engaging with teenage girls. That's outrageous! The amount of people I hear from continue to be with people who drunk drive, abuse drugs and alcohol, commit crimes, are racist and/or anti this and that, and who neglect and abuse is truly astounding.

It is a myth that it is rude to point out or show that something is wrong and that you are not going to hang around to tolerate it in your life. This is your life, not some twisted endurance game show.

Think of parents who have the job of raising children - do you really think that parents can truly expect to raise a child into a healthy adult who can survive and thrive, if they don't teach them about conflict, criticism and boundaries? Should they not teach them about right and wrong?

Tolerating the unacceptable actually distorts your values as well as your perception of right and wrong.

Silence and so-called 'tolerance' are actually seen as acceptance. When something remains unsaid, the status quo gets treated as a fact. A lack of boundaries and limits is an automatic precursor to problems.

You don't have to sit there and silently fume or feel shocked while somebody says stuff that you know to be nonsense, mind fuckery, outrageous, belittling, illegal, or whatever. You have a right to speak up and you have a right to choose who you want to spend time around. Even saints disagreed with others and pointed out wrong - don't get things twisted! Believe me, you are not about to get a sainthood for services in the line of pleasing duty.

It is hard because showing or saying that something isn't OK can feel rather daunting but remaining silent feels far worse. Other people's behaviour is about them but your behaviour and your boundaries are about you. Whatever you accept may communicate to others that it's OK to be lazy in their interactions with you. They may get a false sense of their importance and actually believe that the crap that comes out of their mouth isn't crap. People pleasing can cause you to fall into the trap of automatically complying with that which you do not actually agree on. You can be tolerant in recognising that people come from all walks of life, backgrounds, religions, and race, as well as recognising that not everybody shares the same values and that we don't have to. But don't tolerate the unacceptable and dress it up as 'nice'.

 

#2 People Pleasers are the most generous and helpful people

People Pleasers are amongst some of the most generous and helpful people on the planet when you look at what they do, but when you start to examine what they're doing in the context of who they're being so benevolent with and why, you come to discover that it's generosity and help that doesn't come without a pricetag and an agenda.

This is always a tough subject because the initial thought is, 'How dare you! I am very generous and helpful!', as well as a sense of feeling slighted. In your beliefs somewhere is this idea that even if you do have an agenda and predetermined idea of what you expect to get back, that this is OK because nobody does anything 'just because'. Actually, lots of people do stuff with an agenda and plenty of people don't, possibly because they've been burned through experience and have learned to give when they want to and they have it to give, and when they can do so without feeling aggrieved if the person doesn't live up to their expectations.

You are generous and you are helpful but your reasons for doing so are far from being altruistic because you draw your value from your endeavours and you do what you do to influence and to avoid certain things.

When you think about the people who you're most generous and helpful to, you start to see a picture and a pattern that may be quite worrisome. If we have the potential to give and help, why isn't it being given to those that truly need it? Why is it only to people that validate our unhealthy beliefs?

I have been generous and helpful to a fault in the past and the truth is, it's not because I'm one of the most generous and helpful people on earth, but it's because I had an allergy to saying no along with a fear of failure and rejection. I gave and helped to limit this and I actually increasingly felt like a failure and rejected, while also feeling a tad bankrupted.

Who have I helped in the past? Mr Unavailables, shady relatives, 'friends' who are only around when they need a favour, and people who don't respect my boundaries. Sure I did some actual charity work or donations but really, I was not putting my seeming need to be of use to the people who could probably use it most.

When it came down to it, I had to admit that I gave to receive. I gave away my version of love so I could trigger something in others. I gave bountiful loads of the benefit of the doubt because it was easier than having boundaries.

I'm not saying that you're not helpful or generous but who you help and give to, how you help and give, and more importantly why you help and give, is undermining you while putting you in toxic situations.

The most generous and helpful people are those who do their best to do so with no agenda. There's no fanfare, no need for congratulations, no need for the recipients to change or give something specific. It doesn't mean that others aren't giving and helping, it's just that there's often a lot of unnecessary pain laden giving and helping.

 

#3 Assertiveness is the same as aggression.

This is a theme that will come a lot throughout the course because there are such negative associations with representing your needs, expectations, wants, opinions and feelings. It's mistaken for aggression, which is doing these by force, which is not the same as assertiveness, which is doing so with respect of you and others. All the fears of political correctness, how rude you're being, how uppity, demanding, forceful, militant, hostile, ill-mannered, and offensive you're being, stem from this perception of people who you deem to be the opposite to what you're doing.

The thing is, we're right to have an issue with being aggressive because going around trying to be who we are and get what we want from others by force is abusive behaviour.

Expressing a dissenting opinion, living your own values, offering feedback or criticism, expressing your feelings to others, knowing your line, being au fait with your needs, expectations, and wants, none of these are aggressive.

Doing the above PLUS limiting the rights of others to disagree, trying to crush out another person's values by forcing them onto yours whether it's covertly or aggressively, claiming to be honest when you're actually being rude and even abusive, carrying on as if it's only your feelings that matter and telling others that theirs are wrong, stupid or whatever, as well as forcing your way upon others while busting their boundaries is abusive. As is deciding that the way that you're going to meet your needs, expectations, and wishes is to demand and force it out of others whether it's covertly or directly.

Honesty is the truth with respect and yes, sometimes the truth hurts. Aggressive people cloud that honesty, which incidentally may not even be honesty if they have skewed outlook on things, with the way in which they go about things.

To mistake assertiveness for aggression is to suggest that nobody has the right to be who they are and to live their own values.

It's saying that assertiveness is wrong and that people who are assertive are actually imposing themselves upon others, as if fading into the background, telling people what they want to hear, and squashing down your true identity is the 'right' and respectful way. It's also saying that because pleasing others has a lot to do with trying to influence others, that it's better to get what you want covertly and through generating IOU's than it is to just represent who you are respectfully.

It's taking things in extremes as if there's only be passive with a mix of passive aggressive behaviour or be aggressive.

It is a myth that assertiveness is 'bad' and 'forceful' because an assertive person can voice their opinions and feelings without disrespecting others. They will allow other people to be who they are and to have a voice and position without questioning who they are as a result. An assertive person isn't going to force a person to take up their view or to do as they want and they will represent their own needs etc by honouring those, even if it means stepping away.

It is a myth that assertiveness is forcefulness through aggression not least because as 'bad' as we may have claimed to believe assertiveness and aggression are, oddly People Pleasers tend to gravitate to assertive and aggressive people to fill in their gaps....

Only the abusive want to be abusive so it's important to stop telling you that being you and speaking up for you is abusive when it's not.

 

#4 Without people pleasing, a person is neither useful nor loveable.

The easiest way to blow this open is to consider what this truly means: That not only does your value lie in being pleasing but that you don't believe that the people around you are decent, loving people. You think that if you're not running around doing things for them all of the time and telling them what they want to hear, as well as pretending to be somebody that you're not, you will no longer have a position in their lives. You'll fall out of favour.

Now the trouble with this is that you're either judging these people accurately (which in itself points to an issue that needs to be addressed) or you're judging these people unfairly (which would also need to be addressed). Which is it?

Are the people in your life users and betrayers?

Or are the people in your life people who do actually love and care about you?

Whichever camp these people are in, you no longer saying yes all of the time is probably going to ruffle a few feathers. That's not because reducing people pleasing is 'wrong' but more that people get used to hearing yes and so they will have to make their own adjustments.

You can't just decide to keep users and betrayers in your life though, because pleasing them or not, these are toxic interactions. You need to question why you need to hold onto them instead of holding onto this limiting belief that if you're not sucking up to people who don't appreciate you anyway, that you're going to lose these people who don't appreciate you... That's a gain not a loss.

It's not that curbing your pleasing behaviour will make you lonely - people pleasing is actually quite a lonely existence because you have the illusion at times of being cared for and useful but you only temporarily feel safe, useful, cared for and loved.

We will be talking about ways that you can manage the shift in your habits so that you don't feel like having some self-respect killed off all of your relationships. You don't want to get hung up on the 'some crumbs rather than no crumbs' mentality because you'll be miserable forever more. You have options!

It's also important to point out that most people have a pleaser in them, it's just that some of us manage it better. You're not looking to eradicate it - you're just looking to get into the driving seat of your life.

 

#5 Boundaries and standards are only for certain types of people.

I think that one of the hardest things to get through to People Pleasers is that it's OK to have boundaries and standards and that they're not just for aggressive or more _________ people, you know the more successful, beautiful, intelligent or whatever people.

Boundaries are for everyone. They don't discriminate and it's a function of being human that you have but you just haven't utilised or trained yet.

Boundaries are like muscles - the more you use them, the stronger they get. Don't have boundaries and standards and you will be run over in life. It's not that nice people finish last; it's that people who don't have boundaries and standards sell themselves short.

Boundaries are your right. It's not about being 'good enough' - you already are. You have been since day one.

It's not about whether you deserve to have boundaries. They don't work that way as if because you believe you effed up back in 1992, you don't deserve to know your own line and decide what you will and won't accept.

It is a myth that boundaries are only for the select few amongst us. If you take a closer look at what people around you say yes and no to, you will see that everyone, including the shadiest, has boundaries. There you are feeling bad about having boundaries and standards because maybe you feel that it's rude, uppity, demanding or whatever, but I can assure you that even criminals in maximum security prisons have boundaries (As an example, certain types of criminals will not mix with others...) so why are you excluding you from your basic right?

Boundaries are not demands; they're boundaries.

The only reason why you support the myth that boundaries and standards are for others is because it enables you to stick with your current habit of thinking and behaviour... which isn't working for you. You earmark them for others in lieu of having to do the right thing by you. I've only had decent boundaries for the past eight years or so and it's a work in progress. I used to believe that they were only for worthwhile people and abusers who want to keep you in line and on your toes. Who was I to have standards? I was Natalie Lue with absent father, mother who this and that, string of unhealthy relationships and yada yada yada. Funny how when I had boundaries and standards, not only did these things stop mattering so much just as I started to matter in my own life, but having boundaries and standards has ensured that I don't settle and that I can continue to do things that are pleasing but I can do so with boundaries and standards. It does not make sense for me to be devoting my life to pleasing shady people or trying to get back my childhood that's already been and done!

Boundaries and standards are for everyone! Not everyone is going to use them but you can. Opt in.

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