I've recently watched the controversial Netflix series, 13 Reason's Why. Despite what critics say, I think the show brought to life a new, truly raw view of pressure, what it feels like for high school kids to just want to be "normal" and liked by their peers.
The show made me think a lot about my own high school experience, how painful and lonely certain times were and how much of what other people thought of me drove my sense of self-satisfaction.
Today, I look back and call this "people pleasing." This mentality seems typical in high school, especially for girls, but what happens when the "need to please" continues into college and your adult life? When does this "need to please" just go away? Because let's face it, it's exhausting and can cause a rollercoaster of emotions.
I think that point is different for everyone, and if you're a lucky one who was confident in high school, then more power to you, keep it up! But for those of us who followed the crowd, struggled to fit in and may still be figuring it all out, it's important to first understand what makes us care so much about what others think?
We care a lot more about what others think of us when we feel a weak (or no) connection to our own intuition.
Growing up, did you have the opportunity to cultivate a connection to your own intuition (aka your gut instinct, spirit, soul or internal compass)? Your intuition has the power to lead you to genuine happiness, peace, confidence and satisfaction (aka listening to it, and taking action, quiets the outside voices of influence).
Or... did you ignore your intuition growing up (maybe it told you something you didn't want to hear) or maybe you didn't realize it even existed? This can happen for a number of different reasons (many that can be a result of your upbringing). But whatever the reason, when you haven't cultivated the connection to your gut, or it becomes cloudy, it can cause you to lead with your ego, become heavily financially driven and/or "people please." In other words, since you don't receive validation and answers from within yourself, you look for outside sources of validation.
People pleasing can end up being your main source of motivation, but if you fail to please, the sense of doom can be overwhelming. Think about it at work...
You have a project you're presenting to your boss. You've worked late nights and weekends on it and in your mind, there is no way your boss won't love it and praise you for the hard work. You may or may not be aware that feeling any sense of satisfaction on this project is 100% dependent upon how your boss will react to it.
But, what if your boss is having an awful day and she doesn't seem as enthusiastic about it as you'd have hoped? You now feel like YOU failed. Your self-esteem suffers. You immediately question how you could have done better, and whether your performance review will suffer. You doubt all your hard work.
Now don't get me wrong, praise is awesome, but if you rely on it as your main source of self-esteem, you can dig yourself into a spiral of "I'm not good enough" thoughts. Yeah, that horrible negative self-talk that leads to anxiety, stress, insomnia, etc...
The need to please causes us to be REALLY hard on ourselves; it can even end up impacting our health...
Do not worry if this sounds like you because a) you are not alone and b) you have the power to change it by cultivating more of a connection with your intuition. How do we do that? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Get more comfortable with deep breathing - 3 mins, twice a day (or more if you're really motivated). This may be really challenging at first, but after practicing it daily for 1 week, it should get easier. If it doesn't, there are always more solutions!
- Go do something to step outside your comfort zone. This forces you to get in touch with your emotions - the positive and the negative.
- Journal about that experience - why were you afraid of it to begin with? Pay close attention to what felt great and what didn't? Do you want this feeling to repeat more frequently in your life? How can you make that happen? What do you need to ask for? What do you need to say no to?
Think about it, if you knew you worked your butt off on that project, poured your heart and soul into it, you should feel some sense of pride, no matter what anyone says to you, right? And you can reframe praise from your boss as icing on the cake (instead of the full yellow cake filling)!
The catch here is that in order to feel the internal satisfaction, the project needs to be in alignment with what your intuition beliefs. So, if you're working on a soul sucking assignment, you're going to look for external sources of motivation. But if it's one that feels good, you feel like you're making a meaningful impact and you experience a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, you're operating in alignment with your intuition. Your sense of peace and satisfaction will reward you from within and those outside voices will eventually stop mattering!
Questions? Confused by all of this intuition stuff? Or have a good story about overcoming the need to people please, comment below or reach out firstname.lastname@example.org!