What are the Consequences of People Pleasing? – Nicola O’Hanlon

Image by 1388843 from Pixabay

Do some of the following scenarios sound familiar to you?

There is just not enough time to care for yourself. Your health is compromised because there is just no time to exercise or prepare nutritious food. There’s a constant running from one commitment to another and your needs are last on the list – SELF NEGLECT.

You feel like you are suppressing anger a lot, but because you are a kind and compassionate person, your anger stays stuck inside with no outlet. You notice certain things in your personality seeping out – passive aggressive behaviour that’s really not you, sharp comments to people who really don’t deserve it or cynical viewpoints not usual for you. These characteristics show up and feel like they are uncontrollable, yet the things you are really angry about stay locked away – ANGER AND RESENTMENT.

You’re struggling to enjoy social activity. You’re there in body, but your spirit is elsewhere. You feel overwhelmed, you avoid conversation and engaging with people is too much, you have a feeling of always being on duty – BEING PRESENT BUT DISENGAGED.

Your moods are erratic and you don’t always know what to expect from yourself when you get out of bed in the morning. There is a sense of dread starting your day and the only things that are keeping you going is the need to make a living and if you’re a mother, to take care of your children. You feel little joy and your enthusiasm for the things you one enjoyed has faded. ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION.

You Feel guilt for saying no to peoples requests and expectations. You struggle to understand what making boundaries means and you’re confused about balance in your giving and receiving in life. You feel depleted and find yourself constantly doing for others – BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.

All of the above are just some of the consequences of being a people pleaser and having lost your own sense of self and how you want to live your life. Many of us were brought up to believe that being a good woman, means compromising everything that we truly are on the inside. It means sacrificing our own wellbeing for the good of others. This is the result of a patriarchal mindset and because of the validation by our society of womens sacrifice and compromise, through many generations, it has become a very difficult concept to break, even in our modern society.

However, I have learned the very hard way, that not taking care of myself first, leads to the devastation of an entire family. By not taking care of yourself you continue a pattern of learning for your children and those around you, that tells them that personal needs and desires do not matter. If we are tired, resentful, angry, and let ourselves be used and abused, then we teach that accepting this is normal. When we are in this state of being we are unapproachable, we are unable to help anyone anymore, and we cannot do our best in our work, parenting and day to day living.

However, if we learn self-care and self-respect we teach those around us to follow the same path. We have the vitality, health and enthusiasm to take care of all the things we need to in our lives and slowly joy starts to show up again. You find yourself wanting to engage and converse with people again and there is a renewed interest in all the things that are important to us. Family life improves. Children feel safe to come and talk to you instead of worrying about being an extra burden and getting out of bed in the morning is not so hard anymore.

THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE IN PEOPLE PLEASEING. THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE IN COMPROMISING YOURSELF FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS.

It’s all an illusion and in fact creates dependency instead of freedom for you and all those around you, to live life with a feeling of self-trust and authenticity.

There will always be times where we need to compromise in life and do things we are not crazy about doing. But, if we learn our own limitations and create boundaries around how far that compromise reaches, then we can live in healthy balance and flow.

Most of us will have learned to be like this from our upbringing or other personal relationships where we have been taught that love is conditional. As a result, our understanding of what love is can be limited and unbalanced. Being a good girl meant doing what we were told, following a prescribed lifestyle or religion or set of values. Doing this successfully meant great validation, and not doing it meant rejection and vilification by those closest to us.

For many of us there was/is little room for our own way of life, but my question to you is, how long will someone else’s way be tolerable to you, and when it is no longer tolerable, what happens then?

Nicola O'Hanlon

About Nicola O'Hanlon

Meet our Editor-In-Chief, Nicola O'Hanlon. She created this website, along with the help of the InTheRooms team in September 2015. Her work has been published in several recovery magazines, including Recovery Today, In Recovery Magazine, AfterPartyChat.com, Psychology Today and Reach Out Recovery to name but a few. She has also had her work published in two Feminist anthologies and a book of personal recovery stories. Born and raised in Wexford, Ireland she still lives there with her two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her background is in healing through Massage Therapy, Reflexology and Sechiem Energy Healer. She has combined her professional and life experience and now coaches women on how to empower themselves. She runs the Womens Wisdom Healing Circle meeting, on InTheRooms.com every Sunday (Noon est 5pm UK & Ireland), which is a non program specific gathering of women seeking support, encouragement and healing. Already an expert on how not to live life she is a constant seeker of new and better ways of being. Nature is her Higher Power and she believes in magic, crystals and blames the phases of the moon for her multiple personalities.
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6 Comments

  1. Great Article~ Thank you! It sure helps to hear that “we have permission” to take care of ourselves and that neglecting oneself is the old story!! Thank you for all your great work!!

  2. I read the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life. The book totally changed my life. A lot of self-neglect is caused by this inability to say no and not feel guilty about it. Certain social mores say that we must always say yes in order to be good people, and that’s just bull. This book helped me to see why.

  3. I wish there were more articles on this. I have seen so much of this in people, including some of the people around me.

    It used to be me, but I have learned my way past it. It took a decade, but worth every year of struggle to get there.

    Thank you for this.

  4. Fantastic article, Nicola! And I wholeheartedly agree. Setting boundaries that work for YOU ultimately means that they will work for everyone. What a ride this is! The people pleasing is such a balancing act because of our human nature and our need for belonging. But without boundaries, we stop “being of service” and become slaves to our own lack of self-love and self-care. WE look outside of ourselves instead of within, which is where our Higher Power resides. Thank you for your share!!!

  5. OH my, this is so familiar. And I know when I am in the thick of things I can only see my next job, my next thing to do, the next thing that people expect of me. And then I am empty. And then I am no longer able to connect with others in a healthful helpful way. I am no longer able to connect with myself. It is time for the emergency kit of self-care. If we don’t reach for it when we are healthy , then we will get sick or injured and have to reach for it for survival. Don’t wait for the emergency. treat yourself as you would a loved one. Feet up, tea in hand. head back listening to music and just breathe.

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