The Toxicity of People Pleasing
People-pleasing is sneaky. It can get you far. But ultimately results in burnout and/or discontentment.
This is very much my story.
And a story I see played out frequently in my clients.
Typically, people-pleasing is honed in childhood to maintain connection with an inconsistently available parent. The child learns to earn love and connection by adapting themselves to the needs and standards of others. Instead of learning that they are worthy of love no matter what they say and do.
The sneaky thing is, the habits they learn in order to cope can be seen as strengths:
Being highly intuitive to the needs of others
Great at reading the room
Having a strong work ethic
Integrating easily with a variety of groups
But the flip side of people-pleasing isn’t so hot:
Unending quest for achievement
Strong need for control
This mix is toxic as it will allow the people pleaser to be successful in school and in the corporate environment until they burnout and/or reach a level of screaming discontentment because what they’re doing is so out of line with who they are or who they’ve become.
This was me.
Discontent in a career I was growing out of (Advertising Account Management),
I thought the solution to my discontentment was more achievement (an MBA),
during which I burned out.
And yet still continued on a path of achievement (tech startups),
until I ultimately got fired (another story for another email).
Ultimately the people pleaser is so used to creating success through measuring up to other people’s needs and standards, that they haven’t developed their own internal compass and they haven’t learned to love tuning into it.
Who are you?
What are your super powers?
What are your interests?
What are your lifestyle priorities?
What do you need to maintain your mental health? Your physical health?
Where are you trying to grow and learn?
And can you communicate all of this to the people in your life with ease and confidence?
If the above feels murky or difficult
If you feel buried under a never-ending to-do list
If you feel guilty saying no
If you often worry about what others think
Then you’re a people pleaser. Welcome. You’re in the right place.
To unlearn your people pleasing tendencies start tuning into yourself. Take some time to answer the questions above. Start telling the answers to the people in your life. Watch your self-awareness and confidence grow.
PS. When you are feeling discontent or burned out in your career the first place to start is tuning into yourself. I teach my clients how to do this in a structured and robust way so they have a map for what could come next in their career. I also teach them how to care less about what other people think and instead care more about what they think and what matters to them. Because learning how to do this will unlock your own unique path and purpose. Schedule a Strategy Call to discuss where you are in your career and how this process would work for you.