Are you someone who struggles with people pleasing? Do you often put others’ needs and desires ahead of your own, even if it comes at the cost of your own well-being and happiness?
Many people, especially those with anxiety, find themselves caught in the cycle of people pleasing, and it can be tough to break free from this habit. However, with the right tools and support, it is possible to overcome people pleasing and reclaim your sense of self.
What is people pleasing?
People pleasing is a common behaviour where a person seeks to gain approval or avoid disapproval by doing whatever they think others want them to do. While it may seem harmless at first, over time, people pleasing can take a toll on one’s mental health, leading to feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
How does anxiety relate to people pleasing?
For many people, anxiety is a driving force behind their people pleasing behaviours. The fear of rejection or disappointing others can be overwhelming, and they may feel like they have no other choice but to keep pleasing everyone around them. However, this is simply not sustainable, and it can lead to burnout and resentment over time.
The solution: Psychotherapy
One highly effective approach to overcoming people pleasing is through psychotherapy. Specifically, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) have been shown to be highly effective in helping individuals learn new ways of thinking and behaving that support their well-being and reduce the urge to people please.
CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs that drive people pleasing behaviours. Through this approach, a therapist can help you identify any cognitive distortions or limiting beliefs that may be fueling your anxiety and people pleasing behaviours.
For example, you may have a belief that says, “If I say ‘no’ to someone, they will hate me.” This belief can be challenged by asking yourself, “Is it true that everyone will hate me if I say ‘no’ to one person? What evidence do I have that supports this belief?”
By challenging these negative thoughts and beliefs, you can begin to develop a more balanced and realistic perspective, reducing your anxiety and making it easier to break free from people pleasing behaviours.
ACT is another evidence-based approach that can help you overcome people pleasing. Unlike CBT, which focuses on challenging negative thoughts and beliefs, ACT focuses on acceptance and mindfulness.
Through ACT, a therapist can help you learn to accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment, allowing you to become more present in the moment and less caught up in your anxiety.
ACT can also help you identify your values and develop a greater sense of purpose in life. By focusing on your values, you can begin to make choices that align with your own goals and desires, rather than simply trying to please others.
If you are struggling with people pleasing, know that you do not have to continue living this way. With the help of a skilled therapist, you can learn to overcome your anxiety and reclaim your sense of self.
Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your own needs and desires. In fact, doing so is essential for your mental health and well-being. So take the first step today and reach out to a therapist who can help you overcome people pleasing and live the life you deserve.