I'm a recovering people pleaser. For the first 30 years of my life, it was part of everything I did. Every relationship, every job and every time I said yes to anything my motivation was to please. I was a shy and sensitive child by nature and my personality disposition made it very easy to slot into the pleaser role. The age of 8 is when I can remember making conscious choices to 'not rock the boat' and 'keep the peace'. I have an older brother who made my parents life very difficult during his teen years. Being 5 years younger than him, I sought give my parents peace by never causing problems, keeping quiet and by not being emotional or dramatic. Societal expectations about women compounded this in me.
In adulthood, these patterns followed me. I based most of my young adult life choices on approval and what I believed would not disappoint anyone. When I became a mom at 24, I chose to stay home with my children. Looking back on it, that was not what I really wanted. My heart longed for a career but I knew it would disappoint people in my life and so I didn't pursue it. I can look back now and see this theme throughout 30 years - from my view on politics, to religion to even how I wore my hair and how I dressed. If you are trying to please everyone, it will show up in every area of your life.
In business, IT IS HIGHLY UNLIKELY YOU WILL SUCCEED AS A PEOPLE PLEASER. Trying to please people in business will leave you burnt out, struggle to be creative and cause you to make decisions from a place of disingenuity (customers and employees hate that by the way!).
Signs of a People Pleaser
People Pleasing & Business
It actually makes sense in theory that trying to please people in business would be the way to go. Happy customer = successful business? In truth - the customer, social media follower, client, etc are drawn to people, businesses and products that are unlike them but make their lives better, easier or interesting in some way. Take the Kardashian's and their billionaire empire, do you think people watch their show, buy their products and follow them on social because they are relatable? That would be a hard NO. It is because their lifestyle is so beyond how the average person lives and that is what people are drawn to.
It is the same in business, not everyone is going to like you, your products, color of your logo or smell of your bath bombs. How far are you truly willing to go to be successful? What hardships are you willing to push through? As business owners, we desire to see growth but the more success you have, the more haters you will have. That is the honest truth. People pleasers will crumble under this pressure, be more inclined to NOT follow their instinct and listen to the opinion of others above their own. All which can be truly detrimental to business growth.
How to Overcome
For me personally, overcoming my people pleasing ways came after the loss of my dad. It made me realize how short life truly is and I asked myself why was seeing years and years go by doing what everyone else expected of me. It was after that I started The Balanced Life and created products that pushed the boundaries (something I would have NEVER done before for fear of what people would think).
1. Know your worth. People pleasers are only happy with themselves when others are happy with them. Accept yourself for the good, the bad, the ugly. You are the only you and there never will be anyone like you on earth ever again. You have incredible value, gifts and abilities. Customers will be drawn to what makes you and your business unique.
2. Set firm boundaries. If you have people in your life who take advantage of your willingness to help, you must learn how to say no and stick with it. You are respected so much more in business when you have a backbone.
3. Make the choice to JUST DO IT. People pleasers often get stuck in the 'I want to but what will people think' phase. You don't want to look back 20 years from now still be in the too scared to try phase. Take risks! Your business cannot grow without risk. Be comfortable with the fact that you may need to fail your way to success. That is just how it works!
4. Have an honest conversation about all the areas of your business you are unsatisfied with. Make a list and be real with it. Knowing these areas will help you recognize the people pleasing pattern within them. Take one small step at a time to change these areas. Take a business course on something that educates you in an area you are not strong in (SEO for example), seek out a business mentor for advice, survey your customers for constructive criticism. You must be willing to be uncomfortable to be able to grow!
5. Make the conscious decision to not allow these people pleasing patterns to control you. YOU are in control of your life. YOU get to decide how you live. NO ONE will champion your success except for you. You must find it in yourself to fight for the life and business that you want!
6. Seek professional help. If your people pleasing comes out of place of trauma, abuse or emotional problems, you need to talk to a professional to help you work through those issues.
Letter to My Younger Self
Sarah, you are such an amazing little girl. You are beautiful not only on the outside but your heart truly shines with beauty. You are smart. There will be people in your life who will tell you are not but you must believe that you are. People will try to make you feel that what you have to say is not important but please know that what you say is worth listening to. People will tell you that you are too emotional but that is just your passion! Don't let them take that from you!
People will try to dim that light in you but you can fight to let in shine in everything you do. You will walk through some dark times but you will find it in yourself to feel sadness and pain and THEN you will come out of that with greater compassion, empathy and drive. You will challenge others to use their pain to produce the life they desire to live. You are so strong, witty, funny, engaging, bright and FULL OF LIFE. Shine bright little one!
If you could write a letter to your younger self, what you would it say?