People Pleasing

Raise your hand if you’re a people pleaser. I imagine if we were all in the same room together there would be so many more hands up than you realized. It became clear to me that many people also struggle with “People Pleasing” as I do when I post about it on Instagram a few months back. When you’re a “People Pleaser’ you have the tendency of putting others emotions first, having weak boundaries in your life, and desire approval. 

I can check off every box on that list. 

I didn’t realize how much of a people pleaser I was until I started seeing my life coach in early 2020. She noticed how I valued being “Liked” over speaking my truth. She flagged me when she noticed that I had a hard time saying no to people. She heard me cry and vent when I talked about situations that I was in that made me feel really small.

So together, we revisited memories from my past and tried to pin point where that part of me came from. As I’ve mentioned in earlier episodes my parents had gotten divorced when I was a kid, and I never expressed my sadness around the divorce. Instead, I would just deflect and use my energy to make people laugh and forget about the chaos. I remember my mom saying “Tori is so easy-going” and I felt accepted when she said that. I felt like “I was a good girl” if I didn’t add to the chaos and make things worse. My mom obviously never meant for the compliment to have a negative effect on me, but that’s how I received a lot of validation as a kid. So growing up, I copied and pasted that attitude into many areas of my life. In my job I would work more days than I could handle, with guys I wouldn’t stick up for myself and I would let them walk all over me, and with friends I would constantly find myself in a position of doing work just to make someone else happy. The seed of “people pleasing” that was planted as a kid grew into a full grown tree by the time I was in college. And it wasn’t until 2020 where I put my foot down. 

Creating boundaries doesn’t mean people won’t like you, it means they have to respect you.

Through therapy I developed the courage to speak the word “no” without feeling guilty. Creating boundaries doesn’t mean people won’t like you, it means they have to respect you. The thing is, if you don’t draw a line somewhere people won’t know they’re crossing it. You’re not a bad person for saying no to anything! You have a right to decide if something serves you or not. 

There are five major areas where it’s important to set boundaries. I’ve posted these slides on my Instagram before but I think a little refresher will go a long way. So, the areas in which boundaries can be set are

  1. mental
  2. energetic
  3. physical
  4. material
  5. emotional

Mental Boundaries
Setting a mental boundary is giving yourself the space to believe your own thoughts. This is an area that, believe it or not, I struggle with. It takes a lot of facts for me to just believe something, so on a lot of issues, especially political ones, I’m typically on  the fence. But some people, are very sure of what they think, and when they express their thoughts to me, it’s easy for me to be overwhelmed by someones opinion. So, in order for me to be able to process all of the thoughts correctly I need to set a boundary. Instead of just agreeing with someone’s arguments I had to learn to say “I see your point-of-view, but I need more time to think about it,” or if I’m sure that I don’t agree with them then I say “I hear you, but those beliefs don’t align with my values.” I have to stand firm in that place. I may not know what to believe, but I know for sure that I deserve the mental space to comprehend the matter on my own time. 

Energetic Boundaries
Setting energetic boundaries are also incredibly important. This means not doing free labor or giving your spare time to someone else. In terms of free labor, you deserve to value your craft and not be taken advantage of. So stick up for your skills, the skills that you’ve put in your own energy to learn, and don’t work for free if you feel it’s not right. And with your spare time, just think about it like this. Do you really work your ass off just to have to cater to someone else’s emotions or needs? No, you don’t. So if you don’t want to help your friend move on your day off then don’t, that’s what movers are for.

Physical Boundaries
Physical boundaries are something I used to struggle with. Just because you’re in a relationship you don’t owe your partner sex every night. I’ve been in relationships where I’ve felt like I needed to get my partner’s approval through sex and let me just tell you, it was extremely unhealthy. Learning to respect my body was amazing. I don’t do anything unless I want to. That’s exactly how it should be. And that means if my partner doesn’t want to do anything, then I have to respect that too. Our bodies are not objects for sexual pleasure. They can be that, but they are so much more than that. My body is an amazing system that maintains a state of homeostasis and keeps me alive. It digests my food, it runs, it walks, it wakes up in the morning. So I have to respect it for all that it is and set boundaries to keep it safe. 

Material Boundaries
Just like you need to respect your body, you need to respect your possession. Having boundaries around your materials matter. You don’t owe it to your friends to let them borrow your cash, you don’t have to let your friend drive your car on the weekends if you don’t want to. You’re allowed to respect your possessions. A simple sentence like “I don’t feel comfortable lending that out, but I hope it works out for you,” will go a long way. 

Emotional Boundaries
The last place to set boundaries is around your emotions. Have you ever had that one friend that only calls you when they need you? They spill their emotions on you for hours and don’t listen to an ounce of your advice. That’s called emotional dumping and guess what? You’re not a dumpster. It feels terrible to walk away from a phone call and feel like you’re drained. So set a boundary for yourself. You’re not your friend’s therapist. Simply tell them “Hey, I’m so sorry you’re hurting, I’m not qualified to give the advice you’re looking for. I suggest talking to a professional.” And if they respond with “Well, I just need someone to vent to.” Then you say, “Well I just don’t have the capacity to deal with this right now. Please respect my space.” God I bet a weight will be lifted off your shoulders!

After going through all those areas in which boundaries can be set ask yourself, “which area’s resonated with me the most?” Do you feel like you’re being taken advantage of energetically or financially? The thing is, you don’t need to have everyone else’s approval. Take it from me, as long as you’re not hurting someone or doing something terrible than you deserve to live in the peace of your beliefs. Sure, that may mean that certain people aren’t in your life as much, but if setting a boundary means people leaving your life then guess what, they weren’t there for the right reasons. 

Being a people pleaser is something that you need to recover from.

If you tried to please everyone in the world there would still be someone who didn’t approve of you. You need to like you. Live without fear of being liked and accepted by others.

Set those boundaries and show yourself the respect that you deserve.