An Important Message for People-Pleasers and Approval Seekers

Put your people-pleasing ways behind you.

Posted Nov 02, 2020

Jill Wellington/Pexels Photo
Source: Jill Wellington/Pexels Photo

“I was always going to let someone down, so I decided it wouldn’t be me anymore.”

- Unknown 

Always looking to others for how you feel inside yourself. 

Focusing your life around everyone else but yourself. 

Believing that caring about yourself is wrong. 

Not feeling worthy unless others validate you. 

Feeling miserable inside when rejected by others. 

Taking the blame for what others do to themselves. 

Muting your inner voice in fear that it will disrupt others. 

Avoiding confrontation at all costs. 

Wondering if you were born with a backbone, or if you’ll ever be able to have your own life.

Questioning whether having relationships is worth the feeling of being drained and pulled into doing things you don’t want to do. 

Having no idea what boundaries are or how to apply them.

Feeling lost, alone, and burned out

Seeking approval, validation, and worth from the outside.

Knowing you’ll never be enough. 

Waiting for everyone else to change.

Not realizing that the power for change relies within only you. 

Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, you might be feeling trapped, overwhelmed, and unfulfilled in your relationships. And if you’re living your life to please others or seek their approval, you’re most definitely right to feel that way. 

I have a message for you, one that I hope can help you make meaningful changes in your life. You have value, worth, and every right to your own opinions, feelings, and ideas. You’re not here to be an emotional dumpster for other people, and your purpose in life isn’t to make other people feel better about themselves. You aren’t responsible for anyone else’s life—only your own or your young children’s, if you have them. I’m sorry if someone raised you to believe that you’re only valuable if you can soothe them, if you don’t upset them, if you’re perfect, if you only agree with them and do what they say. That’s about them and their own discomfort and immaturity; it isn’t your fault.

If you can find a way to pull yourself out of the control of others, you’ll finally be free to be your own person. When you’re ready to do this, know that you aren’t wrong to have your own voice; it’s okay to upset others if all you’re doing is being yourself. You aren’t selfish for saying no, doing things you enjoy instead of doing things for others, and taking time for yourself. If you feel drained, burned out, and overwhelmed, that’s a sign that you’re doing too much.

I understand what you’re going through. I grew up putting others’ needs before my own. I was taught that doing things for other people and making them feel better was the way to get attention and approval. As long as I was a perfect angel, I could receive love. And this is really the only thing that children want—to feel loved and know that they belong. It’s only natural for us to do what we can to feel love and accepted. As children, it’s almost impossible to grow into our true selves when we live in fear of other people’s reactions, especially if those people are parents or significant people in our lives. I spent a lot of my life waiting for other people to change. But as I got older, I came to understand that the only person I can change is myself. Realizing this made me terrified. But I knew what was at stake if I didn’t find my own voice. Just as you might, I had many fears:  

I was scared of how others would react to me

Fearful of rejection and abandonment

Terrified of conflict

Fearful of criticism

Scared of being disliked

Horrified that if no one needed me, I wouldn’t be worthy

Instead of looking for validation from others, it’s important to find a way to find it within ourselves. To get rid of our fears, we have to face them, no matter how anxious that makes us feel. Understanding that our fears aren’t based on facts or reality can help us. Our anxiety, after all, is just a signal warning us of a threat—and any perceived threat to our purpose, value, or sense of meaning can bring about just as much anxiety as an actual threat to our survival. Because our people-pleasing and fears usually derive from childhood, it’s important to look back to move forward.

In my childhood years, it was unsafe for me to ruffle any feathers or act in ways that might upset the people around me. As I got older, I realized that my anxiety around speaking up, being criticized, or being reacted to negatively had no bearing on the truth of my life. When I realized that I didn’t have to be fearful, there was no longer any real threat. When I stopped basing my response to others on my past fears, I finally stopped hiding behind people-pleasing behaviors. You can put your people-pleasing ways behind you. You can take care of yourself first; because in reality, that’s the only real way you can truly live a life that serves as an expression of who you are.