The urge to please people can be incredibly strong. It’s natural to want people to like, admire, and think highly of you. The problem is, when your priority is on pleasing others, then you’re selling yourself out. At the end of the day, some people will like you, and some won’t. It’s tempting to think that people liking you is what’s valuable and important. It’s not. Being the kind of person YOU want to be and doing YOUR own thing is actually what’s valuable. Here are some tips to help you drop the pleasing and start living the life that reflects who you are and all the amazing things about you.
1. Get honest with yourself
People pleasing is often a result of low self-esteem. Maybe you needed to go out of your way to get attention from a parent. Maybe you needed to keep the peace in a volatile relationship. People pleasing is an attempt to get the love and attention and care that you’re not giving yourself. Is there a little girl or boy inside of you who is still hurting from a lack of attention? Is there a teenage you still stinging from bullying or an unhealthy relationship? Realize that what you are trying to get from others is what you should be trying to solidify within yourself. No one can love you or be as proud of you as you can.
2. Realize that other peoples’ approval is not valuable
You want other peoples’ approval because you want to feel good about yourself. But if you know you’re a people pleaser, you probably don’t feel good about yourself. A quote from Byron Katie captures this perfectly: “When I seek your approval, I don’t approve of the me that’s seeking the approval.” In this way, people pleasing is a vicious circle. You’re really doing it because you want to love yourself. But you know you’d love yourself more if you didn’t give a stuff what other people thought, and did your own thing. Do you know how much time other people spend thinking about you? Maybe one thought a day. Maybe 30 seconds a day. How much time do you spend thinking about you? YOU’RE the one who needs to be happy with you — not them. The approval you seek so much is not actually valuable. It’s a trap to think that it is.
3. Become your own best friend
There are few things in the world better than loving and honouring yourself for exactly who you are and exactly who you are not. Self-acceptance and love are truly, incredibly valuable. Start thinking of yourself as you would think of a small child you want to protect. Or as a soulmate you’d do anything for. THEN, from that place, decide what to do, who to help and what to say yes to. Would you make a treasured child push themselves too hard when it’s not necessary? Would you encourage a best friend to be fake and inauthentic to please a date? Of course not. That’s how you should think of yourself. Honour yourself. At the end of the day, all the people you are trying to please are living their own lives and aren’t really invested (or perhaps even sure), of their opinion of you. But YOU are the one who lives YOUR life and who checks in all the time about how happy you are, how confident you feel, and whether you’re living the life YOU want to live. Honour that person. Honour you.
Final hint: Yes, it’s ironic, but people are usually drawn to those who don’t feel the need to people please. Of course not everyone will think you’re the best person ever. However, if like-minded people find someone unapologetically themselves and comfortable in their own skin, that’s where you start to see real respect and authentic connection. Love yourself first. Then you’ll naturally find the people who love you.