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Understanding Autonomy & Why Your Personal Rights Are Compromised As A People Pleaser

This class is about understanding what autonomy is and how this relates to people-pleasing and being assertive.

When you hear words such as 'rights', 'autonomy', 'free will', 'boundaries', 'choices', it's likely that some if not all of these bring up uncomfortable feelings and thoughts for you. As a people pleaser, autonomy, the ability to be independent and self-govern, is not something that's on your mandate. You might have thought about it because on some level you recognise that if you were more autonomous that your sense of self would not be so dependent on the movements and thoughts of others, but when it comes to the action part or the supporting mentality, you balk at the prospect of stepping away from people-pleasing habits that you may have been engaging in for as long as you can remember.

How much autonomy you have is affected by what you perceive as your rights - your moral and legal entitlements. As a people pleaser, your perception of your rights is less than their actuality. You don't treat you as if you carry the same rights as others and in fact tend to sign away your rights while over-inflating everyone else's. Much of this thinking and behaviour will stem from childhood - you learned either through direct teaching or through misinterpretation that you don't have the right to be and do certain things, especially if you want to be pleasing others, which is what you've learned to believe is the most important thing. As an adult, you are still cosigning to this belief and acting as if what you taught or interpreted was correct, even though you may even have your own children and are not busting their boundaries and removing their rights.

People-pleasing is very much tied to what you perceive as your moral rights plus it's also about your perception of how much control you have over you.

Due to your habits, the concept of free will - the power to act according to your own wishes - and having the right and ability to control your life (self-determination), will seem foreign to you and in turn, this will affect your ability to make your own decisions. It also limits your ability to say no, as well as your perception of your choices / options, plus it encroaches on your responsibility and accountability.


This is how your personal rights get compromised over and over again.


You have a negative association with autonomy and so being assertive is inadvertently seen as a threat. Being your own person is actually something that brings about a great deal of fear due to the uncertainty associated with it - it's easier to do life by numbers and engage in pleasing.

It's actually quite easy to identify whether you are autonomous and who and what type of situations tend to provoke your pleasing dependencies, by identifying where you're in a child role.

Think about the people and situations where you feel like a child. When you assign authority and power to others, you put them in the parent role and while you're pleasing anyway, they will treat you and respond to you as the authoritarian to the child. If you give away power, that person will use it or, if they're uncomfortable with being given that type of power, run from it. When you lack autonomy, you're relying on being directed by others. Some people will only be too happy to direct and control you and others, due to being assertive or just uncomfortable with that level of responsibility, will actually be very uncomfortable. The latter are the types of people who will ask you what you think and feel and will encourage you to speak up, to choose your own path etc, and you may actually dislike them for this because it stresses you. You may accuse them of being 'too nice' and not assertive enough. Ironically.

You assume less control than you actually have and you act this way, which in turn creates a self-fulfilling prophecy because you keep knocking heads with the same negative outcomes that you've come to predict.

Choice, being your own person - these are a stress for you because it feels like having and being these things opens you up to the possibility of 'bad things' so it's easier to default to the life by numbers mode. You may be afraid of being in control and independent due to negative associations you have with it as well as fear of having to be responsible for you and your happiness but it's important to acknowledge that there's a very significant cost attached to this mode and that you aren't actually happy. It's also important to note that when you assume the control and independence over your life that you already have but haven't activated yet, it means that you can no longer be in the child role which you may associate with having to let go of certain aspects of your past. It may mean choosing to fill up your own void instead of trying to get your parents or others to do so and this can seem scary as these activities can be a security blanket.

I like working for myself because I have more choices and greater control - some people don't like or want that. Granted, sometimes having more choices and control is a pain in the bum but I feel more authentic and happy.

Conversely, I like being less of a people pleaser because I have more choices and control - again some people don't want or like that. When I used to be governed by the opinions, whims, needs, wants, expectations, and projected feelings of others, I had little choices and control over myself and it's not as if this was compensated for by me having the ability to have greater control and limit the choices of others.

When we people-please, we dodge autonomy because we think we'll make it up in what we gain from influencing others and basically controlling the uncontrollable. We'd rather avoid having boundaries, standards, limits and being assertive, and this is how we end up being deeply compromised with limited rights.

You have the option to be self-governed - the tools and software are there ready and waiting to be programmed and used. Being your own person is the only way to lead a life that looks and feels like yours. It's up to you to decide on your values, boundaries, needs etc - your laws - and govern you accordingly.

We will be exploring rights and beliefs this week in some interesting and revealing exercises!

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