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How you are abandoning yourself and your needs
You abandon yourself and your needs every time you try to please other people by doing something you think will make them happy, but doesn’t really make you happy. Like the time you went out to dinner with friends, but you really wanted to stay home and rest. Or the time you gave your son money to go play golf with friends, when you really couldn’t afford it. Your coworker asked you to help with his project, which you did, even though you already had a jam-packed schedule.
We think we can control how other people feel about us by doing something that makes them happy. We want them to like us and think we’re important to them. You may be thinking, “Isn’t it good to do things for others?, Isn’t that what kindness and community are about?”. While that is very true, the problem comes when you are expecting a return, such as, that someone will like you more. Helping others is an issue when you do something for someone, even though you resent having to do it. That’s called people-pleasing, and it is kind of manipulative if you think about it.
You may have learned to people-please as a reaction to childhood trauma
If you were a child that went through trauma of some sort, people-pleasing was a way to keep you safe. Let’s say, for example, you had a mother that was very critical. She was angry unless you were dressed neatly and kept your belongings orderly. You learned that you could lessen the severity of her tongue lashings by doing as she wished. Maybe your father was critical of your friends and people you were dating. It was easier if you only brought home people he approved of. You learned to abandon your own desires and personality.
You’re an adult now, and can make your own choices
I have to admit, it can be terrifying to stand up for yourself and make people angry or upset with you. What if they stop talking to you? What if they stop loving you? If you’ve been a people-pleaser for a long time, it’s a hard habit to break. However, anyone that would cut you out of their life because you asked for respectful treatment, didn’t really care about you in the first place. They were more preoccupied with getting their own needs met.
You no longer need to make other people happy to be safe. You don’t have to abandon your authentic self to meet the needs of others. Stay true to yourself by:
- Listening to your own intuition – Take a few moments to ask yourself a few questions. Is this something you truly want to do? Do you have expectations of how the other person will treat you afterwards? (Are you hoping they will like you more? Are you hoping they will spend more time with you afterwards?)
- Observing your emotions – People-pleasers learn to ignore their own emotions, so they can tend to the emotions of others. Practice noticing what anger feels like to you. Where do you feel it in your body? What about joy, excitement, or grief?
- Allowing time to process your emotions – When you feel anger or sadness, how do you process it? Do you like to journal, talk to a supportive friend, or meditate? What do you like to do when you feel happy emotions? Try dancing, singing, or walking outside in nature, for example.
- Set limits for what you will and will not allow in your life – If you don’t like when someone yells at you, walk away from the conversation. Take shorter visits with a family member who criticizes you. When someone continually hurts your feelings, stop seeing them altogether if that is an option.
Stop abandoning yourself and your needs
Once you become aware that you are people-pleasing and abandoning your authentic self, you can begin taking steps to take care of your own needs first. You can make the choice to allow only people and situations in your life that are for your greater good. When something feels out of alignment, you can take the steps above to change it. You are the adult in charge of your own inner child now. Treat that inner self with the love and respect you were born worthy of.
If you or someone you know could use support around relationships or healing chronic symptoms, check out my coaching and programs here. My new program You Can Only Change Yourself is live now. I have free resources on my website as well, and my Facebook group, Rebooting Health for Empaths and Highly Sensitive Women.