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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
But those nice feelings were only temporary and the long-term side effects of wearing the “Invisible People Pleasing Coat” are many. Let me tell you about a few. Think of me as the pharmacist who warns you about the nasty side effects of your medication…  

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 Coat

Maybe 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 pleasers

In 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.
  1. Start small. Write down 3 things YOU want to do today. Go do them!
  2. 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.”  
  3. 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?
It has not always been easy to speak my truth, but every time I do, my awareness grows and the real me stands taller. Yes, there are advantages to keeping everyone happy, and I was a real fan. But, it came at too high a cost. When I chose to toss the coat, and be the real deal, I felt vulnerable and at times did not know what to say or do. I couldn’t believe all the places and situations I’d throw on the coat, as if it were the perfect match to what I was wearing! When you throw the coat off, you may be confronted by everything that tells us we should wear it in the first place. That’s okay. There’s a whole bunch of us who have decided not to wear the coat and we are with you in spirit, cheering you on. It’s up to you to stay centered and own that you don’t need to wear the People Pleasing Coat anymore (and this is life-changing.)

Keeping the coat off of your back

Make this your mantra: “I am enough. I am much more than enough.” (Sometimes I have yelled this inside my head so that I drown out the negative voices). When someone makes demands on you, kindly acknowledge them. Give them your honest answer – the answer from within. If you need time, tell them so. Then, follow through. Warning: I know someone who was learning to be true to herself, but went a little too far in the other direction! She wouldn’t take time to filter her thinking! It is important to say what is true for you, but be careful how you say it. Unfiltered words can harm your relationships and work opportunities. Before you speak ask yourself, “Will what I say be life-giving?” As you practice speaking your truth, you don’t have to explain yourself, tell a long story or worse, make up a lie. It can be as simple as, “Thanks so much for the invite. I really appreciate it, but I am not able to come.” You may not always get everything done that you wanted to, but without the Invisible People Pleasing Coat on, you’ll have a centering peace knowing that you have been YOURSELF. And, nothing looks better on you than that! Photo credit to Earth Changes Media