“I’m sick of being a people pleaser”
“You’re kind, engaging, you create trust and you’re so sweet” was the feedback I got on one of my Coaching training modules, almost 3 years ago.
Euuuuuuuuuk I thought, as I went red from the embarrassment. A dark thought rang in my ears loudly, “ I do not want to be Fucking sweet”
Sweet, sounds so lame and weak. So meek, so mild, so unforgettable, such a pushover, so nothing.
And here’s another dark truth, I am sick and tired of being so subservient, especially to people takers. It’s draining. It saps my energy. It makes me feel angry.
Mmmmm “you’re not strong enough to be challenging and frank” whispered my ever present saboteur.
What is a people pleaser?
I’ve recently discovered The School of Life. It’s a rich source of thought provoking articles, has a brilliant community to engage in discussion with and it’s App is an excellent antidote to idly flicking through all the blah blah of social media.
The School of Life also do an excellent range of tools, one of which is The Emotional First Aid Kit
In their “I’m sick of being a people pleaser” first aid advice, they provide harsh truths, wise words, and it packs a punch!
“Being someone who pleases people sounds like a good idea. But, it’s a pattern of behaviour riddled with problems, as much for the perpetrator as for their audience…… The people-pleaser moulds themselves to expectations of others, and yet, harbours secret reservations and resentments”
“Putting it bluntly the people pleaser is a liar…..terrified of the displeasure of others” Ouch! Harsh, but let’s face it, TRUE!
And this was my problem with being a people pleaser, how badly it jarred with my values of authenticity and truth.
My Canny Saboteurs
We all have an inner critic, or two! They are there to keep us safe, protect us from risk. And if we listen to everything they tell us, they will keep us small and stop us from taking bold action to living freely.
I have a whole committee of saboteurs. In my training as a Coach I get to spend time connecting with the energy, voice and movement of these saboteurs.
I know their names, what they look like, and by listening to the information their critical voices are giving me, it helps me work out what my fears are.
Finally, last year I realised that a couple of my “Little Ms Helpful” people pleasing traits, where I had conned myself that I actually was motivated by helping others, were in fact Saboteurs in disguise.
Not one but two of them. Joyce, my dutiful, compliant, sensible and polite saboteur and Petra, so busy and efficient at solving the problems of the world, you must work harder, do , do, do!
And they were holding me back from speaking truly and evoking transformation for my clients.
Trying on a New Badge
Back to my Coaching training, three years ago.
After the heavy blow of the feedback of my saccharine style, we were asked to wear a new label, one that was the opposite from our current styles, to coach from that style and it was designed to make us deeply uncomfortable.
The wise man running the training, with deep intuition, gave me the label “The Fish wife” straight talking, serving up harsh truths with a punch.
My “fish wife”, let’s call her Pat, was actually a massively liberating force to me personally and in my Coaching.
As a Coach, in service of my clients unlocking their potential, I needed to bring fierce courage, speak truly to my clients and challenging them to take bold and meaningful action to achieve what they are longing for, and richly deserve.
Breaking free from being a People-Pleaser
Here’s how I did it, and it echo’s the advice in The Emotional First Aid Kit
1. It’s not serving me or others.
A Cornerstone of Co-Active Coaching is “People are creative, resourceful and whole” It’s not my job to fix them or their problems.
My coaching mission is to liberate you to speak truly, live freely and to Punk Up your life!
In order to create a brave space for clients to speak truly, step into their “power” their true potential, I cannot be a people pleaser.
2. “Acknowledging inadvertent side effects, endangering everyone by not speaking frankly”
More wise words from the emotional first aid kit. As well as it being completely exhausting, to mould yourself to the views and act on the disagreeable opinions of others, it does not serve your work, or relationships you have with friends and lovers.
It is so liberating and confidence building to have courage to speak truly.
It can be done with love and kindness.
We can say no. We can be firm in our own views and disagree with others, without offending them. In fact, they will think more highly of you for speaking truly.
And from an ex People Pleaser, not only has it punked up my Coaching, it has given me the liberation of choosing to say no, to speak frankly, to choosing not to have people in my life who are “People Takers” who drain the life from me. I am not your people pleaser anymore!!
Do you want to set yourself free from being a people pleaser?
Here’s some questions to ponder:
How would you serve yourself and others better by speaking frankly and truly?
What, of your own values, are you trampling all over by being a people pleaser?
What might be possible, for you, if you stop being a people pleaser?
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