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I used to say that it hurt me worse to hurt other people’s feelings than to feel hurt myself—as a justification for either not speaking up about something or for putting everything on myself.
It’s not true, of course, but I only realized it through observing myself—my thoughts, my habits, my patterns, the way I’d shift and mold (myself and my words) to the people around me. How I’d contort myself to try to phrase things in such a way that no one could ever be upset with me.
I still often notice myself wanting to do this, to be honest (because I desperately want to be understood and not misunderstood), but I’m working to be open in the moment anyway (and to understand that how others take in what I say is not on me…I can’t make others understand me in the way I want to be understood).
And also, I remind myself that it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to be happy with us all the time.
But unraveling from these kinds of people-pleasing behaviors takes time. Attention. Awareness. The willingness to be self-honest.
And a deep desire to be authentic and true to ourselves always.
And what I’ve learned is that it always feels better to true to ourselves.
I’ve spent a few years working with this, and while it’s still an active practice of mine, I am getting better. I think it’s a mix of the kind of change that arises naturally from self-awareness, and one that comes through actively doing things that feel uncomfortable (like speaking our honest opinion to someone even when we know it will make them unhappy or making it clear that we’re unhappy or irritated with something rather than just bottling it up inside).
Still, a lot of these signs resonate with me, and if they resonate with you, you may be a people pleaser too.
Again, I genuinely feel that the best thing we can do for ourselves (and everyone else) is to be true to ourselves.
We can shift these people-pleasing patterns, but it takes awareness, willingness, self-honesty, and patience.
And it helps to recognize the ways it shows up in our lives.
Here are eight signs you’re not “nice”—but a people pleaser: