In today’s episode, I wanted to break down what people-pleasing is, and how it’s different from being compassionate or caring. Most of us tend to please people, and I want to help you realize when and where this is happening in your life, so you can apply some of the steps I share to moving forward and away from always people-pleasing. So if that sounds like something that would be valuable to you, you, my friend are in the right place.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/253
- What is people-pleasing? (5:32, 11:58)
- The difference between a compassionate and caring person and from people-pleasing (9:55)
- The human need to be in connection with other people (14:54)
- Extremes and the happy middle (18:11)
- Dealing with autonomy versus connection (22:26)
- The idea of the story I'm telling myself (24:40, 32:34)
- OMG feedback (28:25)
- Self-validation, Self-care, Boundaries (35:20, 40:08, 42:37)
- Questions to ask to shift people-pleasing behavior (45:15)
You're listening to Biceps After Babies Radio episode number 253.
Hello and welcome to Biceps After Babies Radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Topic on People-pleasing 0:46
Hey, hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And this is a topic that hasn't been highly requested. It's something that I run into a lot as I am coaching clients. And it's something that if not addressed, can only impact your fitness journey. And we're gonna talk about how this shows up specifically for a lot of women in their fitness journey. But it can impact a whole lot of areas of your life. And that is people pleasing.
What to expect more in this episode 1:24
So today, in this podcast episode, I want to kind of break down what people pleasing is, and how it's different from just being a compassionate, caring person. What drives people pleasing, and it may surprise you what drives people pleasing. And then how do we start to move past this, how do we start to find this balance between being in connection with other people while being in connection with ourselves? And so my hope is, by the end of this Podcast episode one, you're going to identify where this shows up in your life because well, we kind of tend to generalize, “Oh, I'm a people-pleaser, right? We kind of take it on as an identity.” The fact for most of us is that we tend to people-please in some areas, and maybe not in other areas. And I don't think that there is anybody in the world that doesn't ever go into people pleasing in some aspect or area of their life or at some moment in their life, I guess I'd say. So I think it's gonna be really careful to not like, demonize this as like the wrong way to do things. But being more aware of when you are people pleasing and how that shows up, how that tends to show up for you can be really empowering to decide if that's how you want to move forward. So my goal is for you to start to a) realize when and where this is happening in your life, and b) understand why it's happening. I think when we have the context and understanding, we can have some compassion for ourselves for why it's happening. And then c) be able to give you some steps to start to move forward when and if you identify, “Hey, I'm being a people-pleaser right now I'm doing that thing again. What can I do instead? How can I move forward so that I am not giving up all the things that are important to me, and trying to manage other people's opinions and expectations of me?” So if that sounds like something that would be valuable to you, you, my friend are in the right place.
Share, leave a rating, and review the podcast 3:26
Before I dive into today's topic, I just want to thank those of you who have left a rating and review on iTunes or Spotify. Spotify now has the ability as well, it really does help the podcast to grow. iTunes is an algorithm, Spotify is an algorithm and they recommend podcasts to people based on ratings and reviews. So this is a free podcast. It's a free platform on that I put a lot of really great content. And one of the best ways that you can say thank you to any content creator who is putting out free content is by sharing their content. And in the case of a podcast, leaving a rating and review. So for those of you who have taken the time to do that, thank you very much. If you're listening to this podcast, you're resonating with it, and you're loving it, please, please, please take three minutes out of your day to leave that rating and review. It really does make a difference for the podcast.
I, personally, don't tend to be a people-pleaser 4:18
Okay, so let's get into today's topic, which is people-pleasing. This has been a topic that I've actually wanted to create a podcast on for quite a while because it's something that shows up a lot as I'm coaching clients, and people recognize it as a trait of theirs that they would like to change. So this has been on my list of ideas for podcast topics for quite a while. However, I will say that in the last month or two I've had a lot more personal experiences with this topic and I've had a lot of eye-opening study of it my understanding of people pleasing and why we do it has really evolved and shifted, and I just have had a lot of experiences in the realm of people pleasing, that I didn't really understand or appreciate before. And I will say, coming out of the gate, I don't tend to be a people pleaser. In fact, we're going to kind of talk about a spectrum and a continuum of ways that we interact in the world. And if people pleasing is on one side, we can consider that maybe an extreme, I might be on the other side of the extreme. And we'll talk a little bit about that.
My personal experience that I caught myself trying to people-please 5:32
So people pleasing is not something that I tend to resonate a lot with, because that's not in most areas of my life, that's not my default. However, as I said at the beginning, I think, for all of us, we have instances of people pleasing, like, I think it's would be silly to say that, like, I've never tried to people-please I think that's an extreme. And one of the instances that I caught myself trying to people-please, I told this story back in episode 210, where I talk about quitting. And this last year during the CrossFit open. If you're familiar with CrossFit, you may know that there is a stage, a multistage experience to be able to get and qualify for the CrossFit Games, which is basically like the Olympics of CrossFit. And it starts with anybody can sign up for the CrossFit open. It's an open forum to sign up for and you complete these workouts and you submit your scores, and anybody and everybody in the world can do that. And then from there, the top 10% of the scores are taken, and they're moved on to the quarterfinals. And then they compete in the quarterfinals. And then the top 30, from each of the continents from there are then put into the semi-finals. And maybe more than that, but you get what I'm saying like the top people from the quarterfinals, move on to the semi-finals, and then the top people in the semi-finals move on to the games. So it's this like elimination style. And this last year, I made it from the open into the top 10% of the score submitted into the quarterfinals. And it's kind of a big deal, Right? It's a big deal to be able to be in the top 10% of all the people in the world that are submitting their scores for this CrossFit competition. And it's pretty cool. I'm really proud of that achievement. And a lot of people knew about it. And they knew that I was qualified for the quarterfinals. And I talked to a lot of people and they were all really excited. And everyone was really jazzed for me and pumped up and all these things. And I went to do the very first workout I remember, we got the workouts they were released on like a Thursday. So I went on a Thursday afternoon to the gym for the first workout. And I got to the gym, and I was like, “I don't want to do this.” I don't want to do this. And if you want to hear the whole story, I kind of go into it in a lot more detail in Episode 210. But I realized that the only reason that I was doing the quarterfinals was for all the people that I had told about it. I told my massage therapist, I had told my husband, I had told all my friends at the gym, I had told Instagram like I had told all these people that I was doing the quarterfinals. And that was literally the only reason that I was showing up that day at the gym. It was not because I wanted to do it. It was because I was trying to do it for everybody else. I didn't want to let other people down. I didn't want to have other people think negatively about me by not doing this. And when I had that realization that I was not doing this for myself, I was not doing it because I wanted to I was doing it because I was trying to make other people happy. I quit. And I said I'm not doing this and I packed up my bag, put my bar back and I went home. And I didn't compete in the quarterfinals because it wasn't something I want to do. So that was an experience somewhat recently where I caught myself trying to do something in order to make other people happy rather than making myself happy.
What is people-pleasing? 5:32
So what is people-pleasing? It is just that trying to make other people happy, putting the needs of other people above your own needs in a very habitual manner, like all the time, right? It's like always putting other people's needs before your needs. And the key thing with people-pleasing is that oftentimes it doesn't even really matter who those people are. They could be strangers on the internet, they could be people you meet on the street, and they can be your friends and family. But it's like always putting other people's needs before your own. And that on the surface level that seems like a really compassionate, caring position. Alright, why doesn't a compassionate, caring person, put other people's needs above their own?
The difference between a compassionate and caring person and from people-pleasing 9:55
And the thing that I've started to realize over the last couple of months is I really had done some reflection and study and understanding of this topic that the external reality, the external action, for someone who is compassionate, can look the exact same as the external action of someone who is people-pleasing. The difference between the two is the why behind it. I'm gonna take a quick detour. And this was going to make sense it's going to wrap into here, I promise. But I talk a lot about restriction. And maybe you've heard me talk about restrictions on the podcast. And that restriction is a perspective, restriction is an experience that somebody has with food. And so it really drives me nuts when people say, “Oh, macro counting is restrictive, or XYZ is restrictive.” Like that is restrictive. Instead of realizing, here's an example, not eating Halloween candy is restrictive, going to a birthday party and not eating the cake is restrictive, like putting that label on it. And I think it's really important to understand that going to the birthday party and not eating the birthday cake can be restrictive, or it can not be restrictive, it can actually be really freeing and feel like a choice that you're making. The difference is not the action itself, right? You can go to the birthday party and not eat the cake. And one person, that's a restriction mindset. And one person that's very empowered, this is the choice, I don't really want the cake mindset. So from the outside looking in, if you just had a video camera, you would see the same exact action for both of those people. But where they are making the decision is very different. Or is it from an I can't have that, I shouldn't have that, I want it but I shouldn't eat it? That restriction mindset? Or is it from a “Hey, I don't really want the cake, I don't really feel great when I eat it?” So I'm just going to choose not to eat it. If I'm from the outside looking in, I see the same action. But what's driving the hip behavior, the why behind the behavior is very different for someone who is feeling restricted and someone who's feeling very empowered.
People-pleasing has to do with what is behind the action, and what is driving the action 11:58
And so I bring that into this conversation around people-pleasing that people-pleasing has nothing to do with the action in and of itself. It has to do with what is behind the action, and what is driving the action. So we want to be nice, compassionate people but that is not the same as being a people-pleaser. Now you could have again, you could have the same action, the doing the same thing but it's what is driving the behavior. So then the question becomes what drives the behavior of the people pleaser? And almost all the time it is looking for external validation. It is looking for other people to tell us that we are good enough, that we are worthy, and that we measure up, it is looking outside of ourselves for that validation. So people-pleasers are doing things because they want the validation that comes alongside that hopefully comes alongside making sure other people are happy. What they're really seeking is that validation of themselves. Whereas people who are kind and compassionate yes, may do things for other people but they don't need validation. They're not doing it because they want validation. They are doing it because they're kind and this is where it can get kind of tricky because we can kind of lie to ourselves and say, “Oh, well, I'm just a kind person, just placing that person's needs above my own, because I'm a kind person”, when in reality, if we got really honest with ourselves, we would realize what we're really seeking is we want them to tell us that we did a good job, we want them to tell us that they appreciate us, we want them to tell us that we're awesome are amazing. And that's really what is driving the behavior. So compassionate people, if they do something nice for someone and they don't notice, or they don't say anything about it, or they don't praise them, it's okay because that's not why they were doing it. They were just doing it out of kindness and out of compassion, not because they were looking for validation. If you're looking for validation and nobody gives it to you, you feel that feels negative. And that helps you to know, “Oh my gosh, I was doing that thing because I wanted something from that person. I wanted that validation.” So people-pleasers tend to run into trouble because they base their happiness, they base their self-worth, and they base their enoughness on how people respond to them which inherently is something you can't control. But that's what people used to try to do is they try to get validation, they tried to get based their happiness, based their worth on the people's response, someone's response to them instead of developing their own self-worth their own self-esteem and being able to have that self-validation to be able to stand on.
The human need to be in connection with other people 14:54
So one of the things that have kind of blown my world up over the last couple of months that I've been learning about is this idea of this balance, this dance, this tension that occurs between two fundamental human needs. And that is the fundamental human need to be in connection with oneself and to be in connection with other people. We could also call this the human need for autonomy, and the human need to be in connection with other people. And, in this there creates a very natural tension, because not usually do those two needs or desires line up. For example, in here's just like a silly example, I remember back in the day when I taught fitness classes, so I taught fitness classes from the time that my kids, my oldest was three, when started teaching fitness classes, all the way up until my oldest was about 11. And there had three other kids, right? So it was definitely a period of time where I was teaching fitness classes, five days a week, six days a week, sometimes, and I was a stay-at-home mom the rest of the time. And so if I went to the gym, my kids sure as heck go to the gym, and they would go to the childcare. And I remember having a lot of people who made comments about that or said, “Oh, I could never go to the gym because I couldn't leave my kids in like the childcare” as if that was negative, you know, I was subjecting my kids to like this negative experience and I was putting their needs were like, lower on the totem pole, right. And I was very confident in what I was doing, I didn't need anybody else's approval of my decision to put my kids in the childcare, I was raised going to the YMCA child care, and I feel like I was better for it. So I was very confident in my decision to be able to, “I go to the gym, it's an important time for me, and I put my kids in the childcare and that's fine.” But I know when I talked to a lot of women that they really struggled with that they felt like their kids need of like not having to go to childcare, of being able to be at home with their mom like caring for them, that need was more important than their need to go to the gym. And so they prioritize their children's needs, over their own personal needs. And so this is this idea of like being in connection with our with ourselves. So they were forfeiting connection with their selves, the desires that they had for themselves, they were forfeiting that because of this competing value of the connection with their children or their children's needs. And so very oftentimes, this need for connection with other people conflicts with the need for connection with ourselves. And there is a very natural, normal tension that occurs between those two needs, and a back and forth honestly, that's really valuable and important to be able to figure out on a day-to-day and moment-by-moment basis what's going to be the balance between those, between my selfish needs.
Extremes and the happy middle 18:11
And I would argue that I don't love the word selfish because it's a negative connotation, but my needs and my desires, as well as the desires of those around me. And you can see that if we go to either of those extremes, we're at the extremes. And just like very many things, happiness is found in the middle. But let's go to the extremes for the moment, right? So the people-pleaser is on the extreme end of everybody else's needs coming before my own, like connection to other people, other people's preferences, other people's needs, other people's opinions, other people's everything is more important than my connection to myself, what I think what I want, what I feel what I desire, everybody else is more important. So that's one extreme. And then we go to the other extreme, which is the like, everything I want is the most important, who cares about what other people want? Who cares about what other people think? Who cares about like being in connection with other people, like, what I want is the most important. And so when I said at the beginning, at the top of the episode, if I lean one way or the other, I tend to lead towards the more selfish like, this is what I want, this is what I desire. I'm gonna go for it. And I'm not saying that's the right way. I'm saying that I am also probably an extreme, but it's the opposite end of the spectrum from the people-pleaser. I tend to say, well, I want this so that's good enough, I think this way so heck, what do you think? I'm working on it right now. This is something I've I'm aware of a fault in myself that I'm also working towards moving towards the middle. I think there is a happy middle between those two extremes, right? We don't want to place everybody's needs always in front of ours. And we neither do we want to place our needs always in front of other people's needs. Those are both inherently selfish. Maybe selfish is the wrong word but those are inherently both inherently extreme positions. And we can see that the truth, the happiness, the balance is found somewhere in the middle, where we are maintaining that connection to ourselves, we are maintaining that autonomy, what we think and want and feel is important. And we're balancing that with the wants and needs and desires of other people so that we can be in connection with other people as well.
Autonomy versus connection 20:24
I tell you what when I heard this concept of being in connection with yourself while being able to be in connection with others, it has blown my world up. And this is how I always, I feel like the universe, I feel like God speaks to me in repetition. Maybe you feel this way, where I will hear something, and that's great and wonderful but if I hear it multiple times from multiple different sources, it kind of is like an alert to me. It's like, “Oh, I need to listen to this. This is something I need to hear and something I need to learn.” I do this with books where if I hear somebody recommend a book, I'm like, “Oh, cool, yeah, maybe I'll get that book someday.” But if I then over the next little while here, like multiple people recommend that book, that's a cue to me, I'm like, “I need to listen.” This is something that I actually need to pay attention to. This concept of being in relation to yourself, while being in a relationship with other people. Autonomy versus connection has come up in two or three different completely different contexts for me in the last couple of months. And it has been something that has just like blown my world up and just I feel like the more we can accurately see ourselves, the more we can evolve, and the more we can change, the more we can grow. And me realizing that I have this tendency to, like the opposite of a people-pleaser, place my needs and wants, and desires above other people are just as problematic as the other end of the spectrum where it's people-pleasers are placing their wants and needs way, way, way below everybody else's wants it needs. Okay, so we're gonna focus though, not on my problems. Maybe we'll do a whole other topic conversation about where I tend to lean. But this episode is specifically about the people-pleaser, and how this causes problems. And I want to spend a little bit of time here talking about how it gets in the way of your progress and why a fitness podcast is talking about people-pleasing, and how it gets in the way of specifics of your fitness progress.
Dealing with autonomy versus connection 22:26
So you can think to yourself if this sounds familiar to you, but these are some of the ways that I see it showing up in my clients, a big one is eating something just because someone else wants you to, I have a lot of clients who have a really hard time saying no to food, especially when they are at someone else's house, or especially when it's a mother in law or a mother or someone they don't want to offend or they're just driven by this desire to not hurt anybody's feelings or not make anybody feel uncomfortable or any of these things. So that shows up in always placing their needs, their wants, their goals, their desires, and their thoughts at the bottom, and place in other people's comfort and needs and wants and desires above them. Eating because someone else wants you to. Now again, this is where the nuanced comes in. Because again, your mother-in-law offers you a slice of her sweet potato pie, and you eat it. If I had a camera, that would be what I would film. And that film like that action could be driven by two very different internal experiences. So we have to be careful to not label actions as people-pleasing actions. Eating the slice of pie that your mother-in-law offered to you is not a people-pleasing action. We have to look at the why behind it. And this is where you have to be a little self-reflective and honest with yourself. Like why am I eating this pie? Is the only reason that I'm eating this pie because I'm trying to make my mother-in-law happy, or I don't want her to be sad or I don't want to feel whatever like we're trying to manage her emotions? Or is it because I want the pie or I want to like eat this pie and enjoy it with my family I'm happy with this experience. Like whatever amount of desires you have to remain in connection while remaining true to yourself, both of those experiences could lead you to eat the pie but the why behind it is very, very different. And so eating the pie for a lot of women becomes a people-pleasing context that people-pleasing experience for them.
The idea of the story I'm telling myself 24:40
Now here's where I want to stop and just take a little slight detour because I think this is a really important topic when we talk about people-pleasing. And I want to kick this off with a quick story about Coaching Academy, so if you don't know I have an academy where I teach coaches how to coach from a transformational level. And we were in one of our Coaching Academy mentorship calls. And one of the clients asked me how I handled a client being mad at me, or how have I handled it in the past. A client walking away from a coaching conversation very unhappy. And I thought about this for a minute. And I told her I couldn't come up with an experience. And that's not because that's never happened. I mean, it probably has, honestly, if I'm being honest, like it probably that people have walked away from experiences, unhappy with my coaching. Okay, that probably has happened. But I don't create stories in my head, assuming what people are thinking or feeling. Okay, and nobody has ever straight-up told me that. They've never straight up said, you just coached me and that was terrible and I hated it and it was awful. Like, they've never said that to me. And so I don't make up stories about it. I don't make up stories that people are feeling or thinking a certain way about my coaching. I don't make up those stories. And so I think when we are trying to people-please, we are often trying to: one, control the uncontrollable, we're trying to control somebody else. And we're getting feedback and information that is mostly our own stories. Brené Brown is fantastic and one of the things I've heard her say before is that this idea of the story I'm telling myself. So we tell ourselves stories all day long, that person's mad at me that person like, and they never told you this, “Oh, she thinks my dress is ugly because she like gave me a side-eye.” We make this interpretation that like her side eye will obviously she's mad at me because she gave me a side-eye. We make up this story. She never told you she was mad. You just made the assumption that her side eye meant that she was mad. We do this all the time. And so understanding that we tend to do this, we tend to make up stories, we tend to read more into things than necessarily should or could be read into. We do this all the time learning that we do that and acknowledging that we do that can be really powerful to us. And so Brené Brown, she always especially when she's talking with her husband something will happen. And she will tell herself a story and an important way for her to communicate to her husband is with the phrase, the story I'm telling myself, “You didn't fold the laundry”, right? So maybe your husband doesn't fold the laundry. And now you're like, “Oh my gosh, he doesn't even respect my time.” He like thinks that his time is more important because now I'm gonna have to go fold the laundry and he just thinks he's so much better than me. Right? So the story I'm telling myself Is he didn't fold the laundry, because he doesn't respect my time. He doesn't think my time is important. That's the story I'm telling myself. And so how powerful can it be when you turn that on to your partner and say, “Okay, you didn't fold the laundry.” That's what happened. The story, I'm telling myself that those words are important, right? Because it's not the actual truth. It's like, this is the story that's going on in my head. The story I'm telling myself is that “You don't respect my time and you think your time is more important than mine.” And then having that conversation. There's a really great, this is kind of off topic, but we're gonna wrap it up, we're gonna wrap it in any way, because I think it's going to kind of make sense in this context.
OMG feedback 28:25
In business, there is a feedback acronym for a boss on how to give feedback to an employee. And it's called the OMG feedback. It stands for observation, meaning, and generous assumption. And so it looks kind of like what I just did. Observation is, here's what happened, right? You didn't fold the laundry. That's the observation. Nobody's going to argue that, like the laundry is not folded, right? That's the fact. That is what happened. Observation, you didn't fold the laundry. M is for meaning the mean, I gave it right. I told myself the story that you didn't fold the laundry, because you don't care about my time, and you think your time is more important than mine. That's the story I'm telling myself. That's the meaning that I gave that experience. And then the G stands for the generous assumption. So this is a way to facilitate a conversation. It can feel very confronting when you're like, the story I'm telling myself is that you don't care about me and you think your time is more important than mine. Right? That's very fronting. But in reality, we want to give people the benefit of the doubt and so we can throw in a generous assumption. So, you know, I came home, and the laundry wasn't folded. The story I'm telling myself is that you think your time is more important than mine because now I'm gonna have to fold the laundry. And then the generous assumption can be, but I know that that's not true. You care about me, you love me, and you know, my time is really valuable. So like, what's going on here? Right? Get curious about it. Like, let's talk about this. Let's figure it out. And can you see that that format that OMG format can allow you to have now a really good conversation with everything out on the table of like, here's the meaning that I'm creating, right? Your husband ever said that to you. That's the meaning that you are creating in your head and you can have that conversation. Okay, well, we went for a really big tangent, but I think it's really important because you don't actually know what people think. You don't. And yet we tell ourselves all the time that we do, she's thinking that “Oh, she thinks this about me, oh, she's like”, and you know what, sometimes for good reason, maybe they are thinking that, but 99 times out of 100, even if they are thinking that they aren't saying it. And so you're making assumptions, you are predicting, you're trying to read somebody's mind. And you have, like, stop doing that. It only can drive you crazy to think that you know what people are thinking.
Importance of feedback 30:51
And so going back to the story, I told, like, the reason I had such a hard time coming up with a conversation was not that I don't think anybody has ever left my coaching unhappy, because I don't make up stories like that. I won't be like, “Oh, did you say that look she gave me?” I don't come up with stories like that about myself, if somebody wants to tell me feedback, that is important. It's important for me to listen, accept feedback, take feedback in, analyze it, look at it, and decide what I want to change and what I don't want to change. So this is another tangent. But I think feedback is really important. If somebody tells me something, I'm not going to create a whole story around it. But I am going to listen, I'm going to listen to that feedback. And I'm going to see if I get that feedback from multiple sources. And if I get that feedback from multiple sources, especially if I get that feedback from multiple sources, that's going to cause me to take a closer look at that and say, “Is there something here that doesn't align with my value system that I want to change, that is something that I want to address?” And that's very different from like, “Oh, my gosh, I'm not good enough. Oh, my gosh, I'll never be a good coach, oh, my gosh, I'm the worst Oh, my God, like”, right? Like all of that internal turmoil, it becomes the curiosity of a couple of people who have given me this piece of feedback. There must be something here, I want to look a little deeper at my motivation, I want to look a little bit deeper at my actions, I want to think about how it could change this in the future so that it isn't people's experience of me. So that's a healthy way to approach feedback, rather than, “Oh, my gosh, one client didn't think I was a good coach”, that must mean I'm not a good coach, or “Oh, my gosh, one client said this about me, oh, my gosh, that means I can't help anybody.” It's a very, very different experience.
Apply the idea of the story I'm telling myself 32:34
So one of the techniques that I would encourage you to start using is this Brené Brown statement of the story, I'm telling myself, it can be super powerful. My husband and I have started using this in our relationship, I mentioned that I am at one far end of the spectrum where I tend to prioritize myself over a connection with other people. And wouldn't you know it, maybe the reason we have got married is that he's on the other end of the spectrum, he tends to place other people's needs way, way above himself. And so we're at each of the ends of the spectrum. And it's been fun and interesting to try and learn how to like bridge those for both of us and come more towards the middle for me to think outside of me and prioritize connection with other people, maybe even sometimes more than connection with myself. Because I'm not well practice at that. And for him to do the same except for him to like, place his needs and wants and desires sometimes above all the things he used to do to try and people please for everybody else. And so we've used, we've taken this, the story, I'm telling myself and now use it with each other and it's been so eye-opening. In fact, it was just this morning on the way from the gym, we had a conversation about something and he said, here's the thing that happened, and the story I'm telling myself, and then he like told me and I'm like, “Oh my gosh is so crazy to me” that that's like where your brain went. That's what the story you're telling yourself is. But it's such a great opportunity for us to open up that conversation and to have that connection with each other from that, like the story I'm telling myself. So I guess what I'm saying is try that out. It is amazing, and it really helps you to break up the difference between what is actually the real meaning of what happened and what meaning you gave to it. What story did you create around it?
We take what happened and create a story and a meaning around it 34:22
You know, my sister-in-law looked at me from across the room. That's what happened. And the story I'm telling myself as she hates me, okay, but that's it's really important cuz you're separating out what is actually true and then what is interpretation? What is the meaning that you're giving to something the meaning that you're giving to something isn't inherently true. Now if your sister-in-law looked at you and said, “I hate you.” That's a different experience. Right? That's the now what happened is my sister-in-law, it said I hate you. That's what happened. And the story I'm telling myself is that she'll never like me. You notice how I still went into a story. Like she didn't say she'd never like me. She just said I hate you. But I went into a story of like, anyway, the point I'm trying to say is like, we always often will take what happened and create a story and a meaning around it. And when we can separate those two out what happened and what's the story that I'm creating around it, that's a really powerful ability to be able to see ourselves.
Work on self-validation 35:20
So how do we solve it? What's the answer? Some of you may be listening and being like that's me. We've identified the problem, Amber, now help me to solve it. What's the next step? What do I do? Well, I got you. So we're gonna dive into next. So if you are someone who identifies with this people-pleasing, and looking externally for validation, one of the first steps or things that you can start to practice is working on self-validation. If you are confident about your choices about what you're doing, then it doesn't matter what other people think. Right? I mean, it does, to some extent, right? We want to be in connection with other people, right? We don't want to go too far to the side where we say, “Screw everybody, I don't care what anybody thinks.” That's not what I'm saying. But when we can get to that place where we're confident in ourselves, it doesn't matter what other people think of us, or at least it matters a whole lot less. What I think of myself matters more than what other people think of me. And that is this connection to self that I'm talking about that people-pleasers tend to deprioritize, this connection to self what I think about myself is most important. Can I live with myself? What are my values? Am I aligning my choice with my values? Am I confident in what I'm doing? When you're not confident, and you gotta go around and get confidence from other people, that's a losing battle. You're trying to like relying on other people for your confidence. And I see this a lot in women who are looking for external validation of their bodies, their fitness goals, of their aesthetics. They want other people to tell them that they look beautiful, they want other people to tell them, that they want other people to notice that they've lost weight. Why does it matter? Why do you need someone else to validate your effort, your success, and your goals? You know, are you self-validating? Are you self-validating, right? Because if you're self-validating, we don't have to go externally looking for that from other people. And so this is an opportunity to do a little bit of self-reflection of like, how often do you self-validate? How often are you going externally? Now, don't get me wrong, it feels good to have other people validate us, it feels good to have other people tell us we're doing a good job, and it feels good to have other people cheer us on. Not saying that's inherently a bad thing, that feels good. But if that is all we are relying on for our self-worth, for our enoughness that's a problem. It is a rocky foundation, it is an unstable foundation on which to build your self-worth. And so if we can come from a place of “I know I'm enough, I know my body is good, I know I am making the best choices that I can make right now.” If we can come from that place, then when we get validation from others, it's awesome but it's not our foundation. It's like a cherry on top. But it's not the foundation that we're building on. And it's a very rocky foundation if you are building on that because you can't rely on it. You can't rely on other people to validate you. Sometimes they may and sometimes they may not. I see this all the time when I go on social media it's like I've had to get really good at like putting up a post or saying something and being okay with not everybody liking it. But I check in with myself do I believe this is right. Do I believe this is true? Do I believe this is good? Am I competent in this? Like if the answer is yes to that it's okay if other people don't like it. It's not for everybody, you don't have to like it. But I can do that because I can self-validate.
Ask: Why am I doing this? 39:04
If you find that you are somebody who tends to go to that people-pleasing place, a really great question that you can start to reflect on and ask yourself is why am I doing this? Remember we talked about the action can look the same. You can do the dishes for your partner, you can fold your laundry for your partner but what really matters is that check-in like why am I doing this? Am I doing this because I want to do it? Am I doing this because I desire to you know serve my partner? And whether or not they noticed that's okay because I don't really need that like I just want to serve them. Or am I secretly doing this because I hope that they'll come home from work and notice that I folded the laundry and like praise me and think I'm the best wife ever. And think I'm like amazing. And tell me that I'm amazing because I folded laundry. So really doing that check-in with yourself. Why am I doing this? What is driving this choice? What is driving this behavior and making sure that you're doing things for yourself? This can be really hard for people-pleasers.
What things do you do during your day that's for yourself? So one of the ways that you can move away from people-pleasing is self-care. And for people who are people-pleasers, that may feel selfish, you've likely labeled those actions selfish. I saw that a lot. When I went to the gym and I put my kids in childcare, some people labeled that as selfish. You're selfish for going to the gym and putting your kids in childcare. That's okay. They can label it selfish. For someone who is a people-pleaser, moving away from people-pleasing may feel selfish. And that actually kind of tells you you're doing it right. Because we're trying to move towards the middle. We're not trying to move towards how you prioritize your needs 100% of the time over everybody else's needs. That's a jerk. Right? That's a jerk that someone doesn't care about other people's needs. So I want to ask you, asking you to move to the center, but it will feel like you are being selfish. But having that self-care, what do you do on a day-to-day basis for yourself? What do you want? What do you desire? What are you doing to prioritize your wants and desires? That's something that you can focus on if you identify as a people pleaser. I heard this story once that Natalie Portman told that she said she was filming a movie, and the director would have her do the take that she was doing over and over and over again. And he would tell her what to do, and oh, change this and adjust this. And she would repeat it and do it over and over again. And when he finally said, he got what he wanted, he got to like the take that he thought was going to fulfill his vision or whatever, then he would say to her, “Do it for yourself, Okay, we're going to do one more, this one is going to be for yourself, you're going to do it for yourself, not based off of like what I want, or what I'm trying to get out of you.” Like, just do this one for yourself. And she said, those always ended up being the best takes. Because she stopped trying to like, give him what he wanted or create herself into, like, what his vision was. And instead, she just did it for herself. Just from that place of like honest, true, authentic living. And those were always the best takes. And so that's such a great reflection of how much are you doing for yourself. Now, again, I'm not telling you to, like be selfish and like, No, everything's gonna be else. But if you're a people-pleaser, that's going to be a hard question to answer. Because you're not going to have very many answers to it. And that's a key to you, like, what could I do for myself?
And then the last thing that can be really important. So, you know, we talked about self-validation, we talked about self-care, and doing things for yourself. And then the last thing that I would bring up is boundaries. Boundaries are really, really important for people-pleasers. And they can be very hard for people-pleasers. Again, Brené Brown, Queen Brené, I heard her describe boundaries, as the distance between you and me that needs to be maintained in order for me to love both you and me. So this idea is that if someone's too close, they're coming up against your autonomy. You can't love yourself when they're too close. But if they're too far away, you can't maintain any connection. Right? So again, it's that balance between the need for connection with others and the need for connection with myself. So if you're too close to me, I can't maintain a connection with myself, if you're too far away from me, I can't maintain a connection with you. But if we can find that sweet spot where I can maintain a connection with myself and be authentic, and what's important to me, I can also continue the relationship with you and maintain some connection with you, it is that distance to which we like to set the boundary. Boundaries are never about what the other person does. Boundaries are always about what you do and what you can control. So boundaries are not saying, “Don't talk to me that way. Don't bring up that topic of conversation”, right? That's the outward focus. Boundaries are like, “If you talk to me about my body, I will leave the conversation.” It's all focused on what I will do. So boundaries are really really powerful, especially for people-pleasers because you tend to give up yourself, and you tend to allow people to be too close to you. And so you give up that autonomy, you give up that connection with yourself into prioritizing connection with other people. And so setting boundaries can help you to find that space in which you can maintain that connection to yourself. Again, boundaries are not about telling someone else what to do. They're not about punishing other people. They're about this is the distance to which I can love you and me at the same time. I want to love me and I want to love you and this is the distance that we need to do it. And if that distance isn't met, here's how I will respond. Again, it's not about controlling somebody else. It's a very important distinction because that's where a lot of people go with boundaries. It's like you're trying to control the other person. No, you're not trying to control the other person. That's not something you can do, you cannot control somebody else. But you can control yourself and how you respond. And you can create a boundary that says if this boundary is crossed, this is how I will respond to it. So boundaries can be very, very powerful for people pleasers.
Questions to ask to shift people-pleasing behavior 45:15
And then two final questions that I think you could spend a lot of time thinking about this and journaling about it. Question number one is, why am I doing this? So, whenever you start to you know, your brother-in-law proceeds a piece pie, and you're gonna say yes, like, quick check, why am I doing this? Am I doing this because I don't want her to think less of me? Am I doing this because I'm trying to manage her emotions, I'm trying to not make her feel bad? Or do this because I really want to, or I want to eat this piece of the pie. Right? That quick check of like, why am I doing this? Why am I folding laundry? Is it because I hope that my husband's going to come home and validate me and tell me about the most amazing wife ever? And that's going to feel really good and fill my cup up. Because I'm not doing that myself, I'm not self-validating. So I needed someone else to do it for me, or am I folding laundry because I want to take care of our family and this is something that needs to be done? And I'm this is what I'm choosing to do with my time right now. Again, the same action, the laundry gets folded, but it's from a very different place. So stopping and reflecting and asking that question, why am I doing this? And then the second question that is really powerful is what do I want? This can be a very hard question for people-pleasers to answer. Because that's not usually the question in their mind. It's always what other people want. Who do I need to be in order to get praised? How do I need to transform myself in order to get validated? Who do I need to be in this moment or that moment to be able to get what I need from other people instead of the question of like, what do I actually want? What actually desire? What does Amber want? And that can be a really powerful place to sit and ask that question and start to take action and start to do things for yourself, right, that goes into the self-care and doing things for you. And it can start to shift that people-pleasing behavior, and be focused more on pleasing yourself.
Take away 47:09
Okay, so this has been a big topic, we've gotten into some big things. And I hope that for those of you who identify as people-pleaser or maybe have people-pleasers in your life, this gave you some understanding and compassion. And when we learn things about ourselves, and we are aware of things in ourselves, we are able to change them, and we are able to grow. I always tell clients awareness is the first step, you cannot change that of which you are not aware. And when we become aware of things, that's the first step towards changing them. And now that you're sort of, you're aware of some of these tendencies that you have, and how they impact you, and how they impact the people around you. Now, you can start to take the steps to start to move right more towards that center, not going to the extremes is not going to be like, “I only care about me”, we're not going to I only care about you but like in the middle, there is a beautiful, happy medium, where we're able to do both, or we're able to prioritize one or the other sometimes and the other times, you know that that's been the thing for me is like, what I want is important. And I also have to realize that what other people want is also important and prioritize that sometimes it's not always about what I want. Sometimes it's about what the family needs or what my partner needs or what my friend needs. And sometimes I place those needs above my own. But it's a choice and it's a flux and it's this conscious decision rather than a strict default to I only take care of myself or I only take care of other people. Huh! This is a big one. I hope this offered you something. I hope that you're walking away with maybe some new ideas, some new things that you can flush out. And again, if this was helpful to you, do me a favor and share it with somebody that really means the world to me. That wraps up this episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm Amber, now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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