Years ago I wanted to be “all things to all people” and this noble cause transitioned to trying to be “everything to everyone.”
I wanted everyone to like me no matter what; even at the expense of myself. Over time, I became the ultimate nice guy, a people pleaser.
Are you a people pleaser?
Psychology Today defines a people pleaser
as one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say ‘no.’ You can always count on them for a favor. In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people.
Who wouldn’t want a friend like that? But, the problem with being a people pleaser isn’t necessarily in action, but in motivation. Underlying this charitable persona is fear; usually “fear of rejection” and “fear of failure,” two friends I had kept by my side for years.
My people pleasing issue became obvious to me at my birthday party. Someone said, “You are always supportive. You show up for everyone.”
“I do show up for everyone,” I thought. “But, how many of these people show up for me?”
I finally was the guy everyone wanted to be friends with, but I felt empty (literally. I had nothing else to give). I’d mastered this strange art of popularity, but failed at setting boundaries to protect my own well-being.
The truth is, I didn’t protect myself because I was neck-deep in shame. I had zero self worth, and you don’t safeguard something that has no value to you.
How did I get over being a people pleaser? I don’t know if I can say I’ve completely conquered it, but I’ve found these 4 Mantras to be helpful.
You have a lot of worth
At some point I had to stop all the nonsense. I needed to reframe my mind. I disqualified myself all too often. But then, one day, that changed. One of my friends who seemed to have luck with all of the ladies said to me, “Look, we are good looking guys, athletic, successful, and we have great jobs. I’d say we represent less than 1% of the guys here. What girl wouldn’t want a guy like us?”
I’d been so focused on what needed improvement, I’d forgotten what I’d accomplished. So, for you, write down the great qualities about yourself. You may find these make you a unique man.
You won’t vibe with everyone
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get every single person to like me. I would strive to make connections happen with people I felt no connection to. Why? I could look no further than my need to control and manipulate. That “fear of rejection” was working overtime to ensure I’d be accepted by everyone. Not possible.
Now my social circle is a lot smaller, but it’s built on quality vs. quantity.
Small, rebellious acts of randomness
It took years for me to become a people pleaser. Conversely, it takes years to recover. So, I’ve always found ways to rebel in small ways. Sometimes, saying “no” is about as rebellious as it gets. But, sometimes I face fear of rejection head on. Last night, Kristen got on my Snapchat to document some “awful” clothes I wore out in public. I felt at ease. The point: come as you are and be accepted for who you are (great qualities…and eccentricities, too).
Be honest about who you are. Do something you want to do, no matter how ridiculous it might appear.
Finally, it’s always tempting for the people pleaser to keep status quo with friendships, even when feeling slighted. Once again, it’s rooted in fear of rejection. “Why upset the balance?” you might think. “I’d rather keep things shallow and uncomfortable than lose a friendship.”
In high school and in college, I had friendships I thought would last forever. Many of them have, but things change. The point is, some friends will come and go because they have no roots or the roots don’t go that deep. If you have a friendship you want to last, then get deep roots. The only way friendships develop deep roots is by letting them know your deep thoughts, which include feelings you may have kept hidden. If you feel slighted, then confront and share how you feel. The alternative is becoming that passive aggressive person no one wants to be around.
I don’t want to be a people pleaser, rooted in self ambition and self pity. I want to help people because I genuinely care.