Why pleasing others can leave you feeling empty

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Why pleasing others can leave you feeling empty

Are you friendly, generous, self-sacrificing, well-meaning and driven to maintain harmony whatever the cost? In a relationship, do you find yourself taking on the role of peacemaker, often resulting in a parent-child dynamic, where you sacrifice your own needs it if means that your partner is happy? And eventually, when you tire of living like this, do you get frustrated, as you angrily list all the things you do for your partner and others? 

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, maybe you are a people pleaser. But whilst you are nice, kind and helpful, your ability to never say no or prioritise yourself and your own needs above those of others, can lead to extremely unhealthy patterns of behaviour.

Look to your past

Being a people pleaser usually stems from early childhood and one single emotion – fear.  That is the fear of not being good enough, of being unwanted, rejected or abandoned, thought of as a failure and unworthy of being loved. A time where you learnt that doing things for other people and accommodating their wishes, gained you attention and enabled you to feel good enough and deserving of love. 

By feeling indispensable, you have in effect sacrificed your own happiness. Because you believe you are happy, only if others are happy. Essentially you have given control over your life to other people; this is not a good position to be in. 

Pleasing others is a passion killer 

In adult relationships, this situation can lead to conflict as your partner may become frustrated at your lack of backbone and voice when it comes to expressing your own wishes 

and desires. This often leads to a parent-child dynamic and over time becomes a passion killer as your relationship falls into unconscious co-dependence. Many of the sexual/intimacy issues I see in couples are down to this dynamic. 

Ease the please

To wean yourself away from your people pleasing behaviours, you need to become more conscious of your own motives when you decide to help others. Be honest and ask yourself why you are doing it? Is it for validation, acceptance or appreciation? Are you looking for approval? If any of those things ring true, then start by not jumping in to offer your services so quickly. Instead take a step back. Ask others what do they actually need? 

It’s ok to say no

This is often a good time to find your voice, so you can vocalise your intentions. It may help to practice saying “no” or “that wouldn’t work for me” out loud to yourself. If a friend invites you to meet for a walk and you already have a million other things to do and can’t spare the time, then say no – let your friend know you already have something on and would love to meet another time. Notice what happens. The fear of not being loved, wanted, accepted, liked or losing a friend, keeps you enslaved to the pleasing others. 

By building your assertiveness skills, you will be able to exert greater control over your life and your relationships. I encourage you to start with something small and then build from there. 

In adult relationships, this situation can lead to conflict as your partner may become frustrated at your lack of backbone and voice when it comes to expressing your own wishes 

and desires. This often leads to a parent-child dynamic and over time becomes a passion killer as your relationship falls into unconscious co-dependence. Many of the sexual/intimacy issues I see in couples are down to this dynamic. 

Ease the please

To wean yourself away from your people pleasing behaviours, you need to become more conscious of your own motives when you decide to help others. Be honest and ask yourself why you are doing it? Is it for validation, acceptance or appreciation? Are you looking for approval? If any of those things ring true, then start by not jumping in to offer your services so quickly. Instead take a step back. Ask others what do they actually need? 

It’s ok to say no

This is often a good time to find your voice, so you can vocalise your intentions. It may help to practice saying “no” or “that wouldn’t work for me” out loud to yourself. If a friend invites you to meet for a walk and you already have a million other things to do and can’t spare the time, then say no – let your friend know you already have something on and would love to meet another time. Notice what happens. The fear of not being loved, wanted, accepted, liked or losing a friend, keeps you enslaved to the pleasing others. 

By building your assertiveness skills, you will be able to exert greater control over your life and your relationships. I encourage you to start with something small and then build from there. 

If you’d like support, give me a call on 0121 745 9044 to book an appointment. 

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Psychotherapy delves deep into the root causes of your symptoms.  Psychotherapy in Solihull, encompasses a multitude of approaches, each offering a wide range of tools that help different people.