I remember hearing that focusing on making everyone else happy is the best way to make yourself unhappy, and I’ve found that to be largely true. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to do things for others. That said, I have learned the importance of serving others in ways that don’t make me unhappy. Even when we know that people-pleasing is at the core of our unhappiness and a recipe for disaster, it can be difficult to say no to it!
So what is at the root of people-pleasing? Simply put, it is wanting to be liked by others, to receive their approval. But what is at the root of that?! For many of us, we have never learned how to validate ourselves, so we spend our lives seeking the validation of others. When we get it, this is a great strategy. When we don’t? Well that is when many of us end up doing what is often referred to as “hustling for our worth,” working super hard in the hope that we can PROVE that we are worthy and deserving of whatever it is we seek.
The problem with this? Even if our efforts work and our people-pleasing pays off, it is only a temporary fix. Sooner or later (and usually sooner!), we end up right back where we started, and the cycle continues over and over. One common “symptom” of people-pleasing is the inability to say no. While this takes on several forms, the ones I notice most often (possibly because I lived them for most of my life!) are saying yes to things you don’t want to do, such as doing favors for others despite having your own things to take care of, and saying yes to attend things you don’t really want to attend. The thing I think we don’t always realize or think about is that when we make these choices in order to avoid letting down others, we are in essence choosing to let ourselves down instead. Yep. We say yes to things we don’t want to do just to avoid other people’s disapproval EVEN IF it is to our own detriment.
So how do we stop? First off, we need to accept that we will NEVER be satisfied with other people’s approval if we are letting ourselves down in the process. Second, we need to realize that when we show up when and where we don’t want to, we aren’t showing up as our best selves…and is that REALLY how we want to show up in the world?! Third, we need to PROACTIVELY take steps to create our own validation! (This is KEY!!!)
A great first step in learning how to do this? Use evidence of how awesome you are to help build your confidence in yourself! One way that I do this is by keeping my “Becky’s Book of Wins,” which you may have heard me mention before. This is a book I keep where I take notes on all of my successes. Not only does it help me to stop and acknowledge my wins; it also serves as a tool I can use to build myself up when I’m feeling down, unsuccessful, or like I need validation of my worth. If you are not tracking your successes and celebrating all of your awesome qualities and accomplishments, this is an easy place to start your journey of detaching from the need for other people’s approval!
Want to learn more about where you can go with this? Feel free to message me; I’m always happy to help!