Pleasing people is a wonderful thing to do when done genuinely from the heart; to give and serve are beautiful expressions of the love that you are. Neither are what I’m referring to here, however.
The ‘people-pleasing virus’ actually hinders your capacity to give and serve, because it can compromise your integrity and risks placing being approved over being real and true. Furthermore, some people-pleasing can be a form of ‘giving-to-get’, and does not come from a place of thoughtfulness for another, but is really about you.
If you dilute yourself trying to please others inauthentically, or out of sacrifice, you are no longer honouring yourself, and if you are not honouring self, you will not be honouring another either. The people-pleasing virus inhibits you from showing up and expressing your true colours.
YOU are the greatest gift you have to give others and the world – that’s why people will have attracted you into their life in the first place. You are enough just as you are!
You don’t help people by agreeing with them inauthentically, or tolerating something inappropriate out of fear, lack of self-worth, or sacrifice. Fear of judgment, rejection, losing someone, risking an argument, being disliked, being seen as ‘different’, etc., can deter people from being true to themselves and can feed the people-pleasing virus.
In all these cases, you are placing another’s opinion above your own, and above your principles and being true even, which reflects a lack of self-respect and self-esteem.
Disagreeing and saying no can at times be part of loving and respecting both yourself and another. What you tolerate in someone that is untoward, you enable, which ultimately does not serve them, or you.
When you show up as who you are, you discover who likes you for YOU. Some people may love you, and some may not. That decision may have less to do with you and more to do with them (particularly if they don’t know you, of course).
Not everyone likes celery, but fortunately celery doesn’t go changing to become an apple, as it has heaps of unique health gifts to share!
Be yourself. It’s why you’re here. There’s only one you!”
Celebrate your uniqueness. Don’t dim it through warping yourself into what you think other people want you to be or would approve of, for as soon as you diverge from who you are, you dull your shine and go off-centre.
The melody you will play most beautifully in this life is the melody of YOU, and this is your gift to the world. This is also why you are in another’s life and they are in yours. Share the music of your souls
If you are still in the grip of the people-pleasing virus, that’s OK! We are all growing, healing and learning. Don’t judge yourself, or it. Pleasing-people can also come out of a desire to care and make others happy, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!
To understand some of the roots of the ‘people-pleasing virus’, I will share some personal experiences. Your experiences may be very different, of course. I share these in case of any overlapping or related themes, and as always, discard anything that does not resonate.
Growing up I lacked self-worth, which I can trace back to a number of childhood experiences and parental patterns.
No parents are perfect, and even the very best parents may have a negative impact at times. If your upbringing instilled a belief that you were ‘not enough’ in some way, you may seek to attain that ‘enoughness’ through the approval and validation of others. Of course, this is a futile quest, and is one of the triggers of the people-pleasing virus.
Self-esteem comes from within: no amount of approval ‘out there’ will ever give it to you. You can though!”
Feeling unworthy, flawed, or not good enough, can lead to people-pleasing, or at least did with me.
When I was born my mother was depressed and apologised in later years for not really having wanted me or bonding with me after birth. When sourcing the impact of this in my consciousness with some regression-type meditations I experienced a sense of valuelessness, and a feeling that who I was was not enough.
I discovered a part of me also felt that my mother’s depression was my fault – that my existence was its cause. I believe that the people-pleasing virus I experienced in later years came, in part, out of an unconscious desire to rectify/compensate for these feelings.
If you suffer from the people-pleasing virus, are you trying to quench unmet needs, gain approval, or make-up for negative self-concepts and beliefs through external validation?
Another root of people-pleasing behaviour can be fear. As a child I remember being highly sensitive to other people’s feelings, as children are, especially pain and anger. This could, in part, be because my father had a lot of repressed anger and underneath that pain, and there was often a sense of treading on egg-shells with him.
Wanting to avoid ‘rocking the boat’ in later life, I found that I often did not express my feelings or voice my opinions, needs or wishes in relationships and in general.
I also ‘learned’ people-pleasing behaviour from my mother, who was better at giving than receiving (as many mothers are), and would often put other people’s wishes and needs before her own. I learned from this that it is more important to please others than yourself. This led to sacrificial and martyr roles in relationships.
People-pleasing, at least in my experience, can also stem from feelings of guilt, which may be hidden from conscious awareness.
My father was an alcoholic and I experienced a lot of guilt around not having been able to save him. This guilt wasn’t always conscious, but it reared its head through the relationships I would attract – often addicts of some kind. Dysfunctional though it was, a part of me felt responsible for their happiness in some way, which was as unhealthy for them as it was for me.
Feeling responsible for another’s feelings or reality (unless you personally impact them) is an untrue trap. It is also arrogant. It does not empower the person you feel responsible towards in anyway, let alone you.
These are some roots of the people-pleasing virus as I’ve experienced in my own life. I believe it’s important to compassionately understand them, hence sharing as examples.
I now have a deeper understanding of why I chose these experiences at a soul level, and the gifts they hold. Through our life experiences we can discover key insights, strengths and learnings. They can help us unveil more of our true selves, the love at the heart of our being, and the unconditional love of Source/God/Creator.
When you get to the roots of the ‘people-pleasing virus’, you will find that what is needed is greater self-love and self-value.
Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Give yourself what it is you desire from others. Fill yourself up from the inside out. Know that you are loved, loving and loveable, ever and always, and that you deserve all your heart desires.
When you are self-approved you will be able to shine and share more of who you are, be radiant and happy, and live freely and openly. You will be able to give more genuinely, and help people through the presence and authenticity of your being, and the love and light that you are.
This is ultimately the best and truest way to please.