Why People-Pleasing Never Works | Lynne McLean Brown Life Coaching

I think most of us have heard of people-pleasing. Whether it is trying to keep the people around you happy or holding your tongue instead of voicing your opinion. Alternatively, people-pleasing can mean not standing up for yourself or saying yes when you really want to say no. Essentially people-pleasing is about putting other peoples comfort before your own.

I think women are often taught to think about other people before themselves. To be caring, considerate and supportive of those around us. Many of us receive the message that womanhood is synonymous with caring, nurturing and considering others. Being the good girl means not standing out, doing what is expected and keeping everyone happy.

People-Pleasing Superstar

When I became a mum I really felt the pressure of this message. I felt that to be a good mum I had to put my children first all the time. I’d focus on what my kids needed before thinking about myself. In the early days, I went without food and sleep while I cared for my newborn. On paper, I knew I should take care of myself but in reality, “sleep when the baby sleeps” seemed like unrealistic advice. There was always a pile of dishes of washing to catch up on.

As they got older, I rearranged my work schedule so that I was available for the kids as much as possible. I’d plan my time in the small spaces when the children were at activities and sleeping. More often than not, I’d postpone time to myself in favour of getting caught up or organised.

I’d do every bit of housework, answer every email and message, I’d deal with everything anyone needed before I took care of myself. I was keeping everyone happy but unsurprisingly there was never any time left for me. Self-care was a rare occurrence because inevitably it got pushed aside or buried beneath every other task. I was a people-pleasing master but I wasn’t pleasing myself.

Becoming Tired

People-pleasing left me tired, dead tired and drained. So, I took a deep breath, sucked it up and carried on. I kept caring for my family, my home, and my business and neglecting myself. There was never any time, space or relaxation for me because I prioritised ticking every box and meet every need first. I was miserable with being the last priority. At the same time, I believed this was the job I’d signed up for. I believed being a Mum meant making sacrifices, no matter the cost.

Mums often pick up the message that womanhood is about caring, giving and patience. About being considerate of others needs. in my case, the cost of living up to this was my own happiness and well being. I felt exhausted because I’d been running on empty for so long. I felt frustrated at always being the one on the bottom of the priority list. No matter who hard I worked, I never caught a break. It didn’t occur to me to create that I could create that break for myself. All I knew was that there was no break in my life as it was. Nothing I did, ever felt enough because there was always another task or person waiting.

Everyone was happy but me because I had accidentally shelved my own life in favour of pleasing everyone else. I had given to the point that I had ceased to exist. As the family P.A, I knew where everyone had to be and what had to be done. However, when it came to me I knew little about who I was or what I needed.

Pleasing Myself

I used to think the solution involved being more organised, saving time and keeping everyone happy. In reality, the opposite was true. I had to let go of trying to keep up with the ideal of the caring, self-sacrificing mum. I had to start pleasing myself, putting my own needs first. Some days this meant letting the dishes wait while I read or took a walk. Other days this meant letting the kids learn how to deal with things by themselves before rushing in.

Ultimately, I had to take that the huge pressure off of my shoulders and create more room for myself in my own life. I had to prioritise my thoughts, feelings and needs like I would if they were my children’s own. I had to love myself as much as I love them.

People-pleasing never works in the long run. Yes, you can decide to hold your tongue in a certain scenario or say yes to that person who really needs you at the moment. In the long run, though you need to please you. You need to protect your boundaries, give yourself the things you need. Sacrificing little pieces of yourself for the comfort of others is never a long term plan. There is only so much of yourself you can sacrifice without losing yourself in the process.

Originally published at https://www.lynnemcleanbrown.com on September 18, 2020.

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Caffeine addict, mum of two, aerialist, yogi, traveller, wife, stationery horder, baker, life coach and writer at www.lynnemcleanbrown.com

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Lynne McLean Brown

Lynne McLean Brown

Caffeine addict, mum of two, aerialist, yogi, traveller, wife, stationery horder, baker, life coach and writer at www.lynnemcleanbrown.com

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