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How to stop being a people-pleaser (but stay loving)

Are you a people-pleaser?

Sometimes my clients have a long-standing pattern of people-pleasing. It can be as clear as overt fawning (one of the four Fs of survival) or as subtle as quietly trying to be “all things to all people all the time”. People-pleasers mould themselves according to the expectations of others. This habit is often learned in childhood as a way to stay ‘safe’ and feel okay about oneself via the approval and validation of the adult caregivers.

A key distinction that differentiates genuine care and empathy from people-pleasing proclivities is that care and empathy for others means you don’t hold yourself responsible for their feelings and needs. Holding yourself responsible for them only leads to guilt, which blocks true empathy.

In this short video, NBP Director Dr Rachel Hannam explains how to tell whether you are being genuinely compassionate or slipping into people-pleasing mode. Once you can see the difference between your genuine empathy and your people-pleasing drives (fuelled by anxiety, fear and shame), you have more choice about how to authentically interact with others and also set healthy boundaries.

How can I stop being a people-pleaser (but continue to be loving and caring)?

Posted by North Brisbane Psychologists on Monday, 3 June 2019

4 thoughts on “How to stop being a people-pleaser (but stay loving)

  1. Great distinction Rachel. I have just had a clear demonstration of this in my own life. I felt guilt, stressed and heavy while feeling responsible for another when I was, in fact, only looking after my legitimate needs. It was the angry reaction that bothered me. Once I thought it through, got some support and realised my actions were in the best interest of everyone, I felt my heart open and love for them was there. I could also see a good long-term outcome. Enabling others doesn’t really help them. Thanks

  2. This was a sharp prod for me, but it helped so pieces fall into place. I think that this kind of mentality may have contributed to me entering into, and staying in, unhealthy relationships in the past. The incredible guilt that I felt about the impact on them if I left, despite it being in my best interests and sometimes safety, for me to do so. Having some growing pains, I think.

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