Have you ever laid awake at night thinking, “I didn’t do what I needed to today!” Oh, I can relate. I can even take it a step further: I did what everybody else wanted me to do instead! It used to happen a lot because I was wearing my “Invisible People Pleaser Coat” all the time. I didn’t even realize I was wearing it…
Then I became aware.I was “wearing” people pleasing as if it were a coat, and…it protected me. For a long time, it felt good, at least on the surface. That’s because I got rewarded for it:
- I made someone happy
- I deferred a conflict
- I received a few strokes to my ego
- I avoided rejection
Long-Term Side Effects of Wearing the Invisible People Pleasing Coat
- Other people control your life.
- You lose your true ‘voice.’
- You like yourself less and less (till one day you realize you don’t like yourself at all!).
- If asked, ‘What do you really want?’ You can’t answer.
Taking Off the CoatMaybe you’ve been wearing it too. A coat of protection and invisibility that shields you, impacts your relationships, and keeps your true self from its mission in life. Here’s how I started to notice it: I would hear myself say, “Oh, I would love to do that for you!”… But inside, my true inner voice was saying, “Come on, that is the last thing you want to do!” Or, I’d be telling myself, “I should really help them!”… And inside, my true voice would be contradicting me: “If you help them, you are going to be pissed off because you have no time to do this!” The pleaser in me would say, “But that is what true love is…”And my true inner voice would answer, “Yah, yah, sounds good, but that is not what I want to say!” The dialog covered all the bases: resentment, rejection, fear, recriminations. As my awareness grew, I began to see with distaste the side effects of People Pleasing.
- I saw the mess I was making by not saying clearly what I wanted, thought, or saw.
- I saw the resentment and over commitment I was creating.
- I saw the mess I was leaving behind in people’s lives by not saying what needed to be said.
- I saw the example I was setting for my children, and I did not want them to wear the ‘people pleasing coat.’
High performers tend not to be people pleasersIn my research on Self-Efficacy (which means believing in your action-ability to achieve a specific outcome,) I interviewed 30 “high performers” in 5 different countries. High performers are people who are successful executives or entrepreneurs, thought leaders, givers and innovators who strongly impact others in a positive way. Not one of them mentioned people pleasing as a way to strengthen Self-Efficacy. High performers do not indulge in, or waste time on, people pleasing. Is it time for you to stop? I chose to take the coat off. I am so much freer and lighter now. Those around me are noticing the difference. The first step of change is awareness.
- Start small. Write down 3 things YOU want to do today. Go do them!
- Next time, for example, the person who expects you to pick up the slack at work asks you for something, tell them, “I will get back to you.”
- Before answering them, ask yourself, “Was I about to put on the Invisible People Pleasing Coat?” If yes, what do you stand to gain or to lose by doing so?