Hi, my name is Monica and I am a recovering people-pleaser. It doesn’t sound like the worst addiction to have, does it? I mean is it a bad thing that I want the people around me to be happy? 

No, of course, it is not a bad thing. Although it can become a less than desirable trait when your need to please people begins to negatively impact your emotional and physical health. This can happen when you are not AWARE of why you became a people-pleaser.

Yes, partially the reason I became a people-pleaser was because I wanted to please people. I wanted them to like me. It felt good to do things for others, especially when they openly appreciated and acknowledged me for how I helped them feel better.

However, the main reason I became a people-pleaser was that I am an empath. (An empath is someone who is very sensitive to the emotions of the people around them, that they begin to feel and take on those emotions.) This meant that when someone around me was feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, etc., (which was often) I would unknowingly start to take on these emotions and would also feel stressed, depressed and anxious. 

It was difficult for me to be okay, to be happy, if the people around me were not – so for me to feel better, I went into a people-pleasing mode. Basically, I needed the people around me to feel better FIRST, and then I could feel better. Well, there was usually someone that was dealing with stress, anxiety, etc., which meant I spent a lot of time in people-pleasing mode. This was exhausting and held me back from focusing on my own needs, wants, and emotions.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and began connecting to my spirituality and healing work that I realized I was an empath. Some people (my husband) refer to me as a “super feeler.” Understanding more about what being an empath meant helped me realize that I created the internal story – that for me to be happy, to be okay I needed to make sure everyone around me was happy and okay FIRST. This caused me to unknowingly devalue myself.

Do you have any people-pleasing tendencies in you? Do you find that your moods change easily and often? Maybe you are an empath or a highly sensitive person and have been unconsciously trying to help everyone around you feel better before you can? Have you gotten used to being in people-pleasing mode? It feels good to help others, but now you can’t stop?

Here is what can help shift your people-pleasing tendencies:  

1 – Awareness is key. Being AWARE is the first step to getting unstuck, healing, and moving forward. This is when you realize what you have been doing. That you have been devaluing yourself, focusing on other people’s needs before your own.  

2 – Next, ACCEPT that you are human. That you were doing the best you could with the knowledge you had. Don’t try and justify it or blame it on someone else. All this will do is keep you stuck. When you can accept and acknowledge that you are human, you can remember you are learning, that you are okay. You deserve to put yourself first. 

3 – Now you can RELEASE the self-judgment, the thoughts that you could have or should have done things differently. You can also practice forgiving yourself. Forgiveness can be very powerful. It can help you to soften and let go of the negative thoughts you have towards yourself. Letting go of the old habits of taking care of others first, will be a process. 

4 -GRATITUDE. Can you connect to and find the gratitude in the shift in your awareness? In your progress of taking care of yourself and your needs? In letting go of another layer that is opening you up to more healing, to more gratitude, to more peace. Simply thinking, writing, or talking about what you are grateful for can help shift your mood, your perception. Remember it is a practice, be gentle with yourself. 

When you say ‘Yes’ to others make sure you aren’t saying ‘No’ to yourself.” Paul Coehlo