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Pleasing others - who would find fault with that? It’s a good thing to consider the needs of others and to be nice, right? Let’s not confuse niceness with kindness. For many, the desire to please becomes an addictive need to please, even at the expense of their own health and happiness. It takes a toll on health, relationships, and quality of life, and it drowns out the inner voice that may be trying to protect us from overdoing it.
“As a people-pleaser, you feel controlled by your need to please others and addicted to their approval,” writes Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D., in The Disease to Please. “At the same time, you feel out of control over the pressures and demands on your life that these needs have created.”
Take this quiz to see whether you can benefit from learning to say no to others more often—and yes to yourself.
1. I put others’ needs before my own, even at a cost to me and my own happiness.
2. If someone needs my help, I can’t say no. I often find it difficult to say no, and feel guilty when I do.
3. I often try to be who others want me to be, to agree with them, to fit in.
4. I keep my own needs and problems to myself; I don’t want to burden others with them.
5. It’s my job to make sure everyone else is happy.
6. I always have a smile on my face and an upbeat attitude, even if I feel sad or angry or hurt.
7. I go out of my way to avoid conflict and confrontation; it’s better just to keep the peace.
8. I am often on the go, rushing to get things done. When I take a moment for myself, I feel selfish, indulgent and guilty.
9. I should always be nice and never hurt others’ feelings.
10. I’ll do whatever it takes to get someone to stop being mad at me.
11. I hold back from saying what I really think or from asking for what I want if I think someone will be upset with me for it.
12. I feel like a failure if I’ve displeased anyone.
13. I will change my behavior, at my own expense, to make others happy.
14. I spend a lot of time doing things for others, but almost never ask anyone to do things for me.
15. I don’t often ask people for help, if they really wanted to help, they would offer without my asking.
If you answered True more often than False, you may need support in saying Yes to yourself! The motivations for being a people pleaser are usually quite unconscious.
The good news is, uncovering and healing childhood wounds that usually underly the problem is easier than we used to think. We don’t need to dig into all the old stories to easily identify the root cause/issue.
We now know that emotional memories are stored in the body, and we can use somatic sensing to easily reveal and regenerate those old stuck emotions. We can free ourselves of the unconscious programming of people pleasing and other patterns.
Michael J. Kline is a Master Trainer, Retreat Leader and Firekeeper. You can often find him teaching emotional processing skills like RIM (Regenerating Images in Memory), or assisting Jack Canfield, training transformational trainers, or hosting a retreat at Con Smania in Costa Rica. Otherwise, he’s at home in Sarasota FL, with his husband of 34 years, and their labradoodle Luke. You can reach him through his website www.michaeljkline.com or e-mail email@example.com
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