A Coaching Power Tool Created by Emeline Roissetter
(Career Coach, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
Being kind is a character trait many of us want to live by and be remembered for. It is the ability to care for others without expecting anything in return. It is the ability to give, show understanding and compassion, and behave fairly with other human beings crossing our path, not because we have to…. But because we want to.
And that is the most important thing to remember…. Kindness can only truly occurs if and when there are no hidden personal agendas. It is an unconditional and selfless act. It is the choice to put someone else’ needs first while there is nothing in it for the giver in return.
Kindness as such comes from a safe, secure and neutral state of mind.
People-Pleasers are nice, helpful, they never say “no”. You can always count on them for favours as they spend most their time doing things for others. Although it may sound like a good thing, it often translates into an unhealthy pattern of behaviours.
The act of pleasing someone else is often disguised as an act of kindness. The line between the two is in fact so thin that most people don’t even notice when shifting from one to the other. The main difference being precisely the “hidden personal agenda”.
Pleasing is being friendly, generous and considerate, yes….. But when kindness is unconditional, pleasing is usually performed in order to satisfy someone else’s needs as well as personal needs.
Pleasing others can serve you of course. Used with moderation and awareness, it is a crucial tool to fit in, to make friends, to get a promotion or simply to show our love to the ones we care for. But like most things, too much, too often with too little awareness can become truly destructive. Chronic people-pleasers do want others to be happy, but primarily because they can then associate that person’s satisfaction with their own self-worth…. Most of the time, it will reflect a fear of rejection, a fear of abandonment and/or a need for external validation.
Unfortunately, when the validation doesn’t occur, people-pleasers are prone to a multitude of negative effects and destructive behaviours.
The Negative Effects of “People-Pleasing”:
When people-pleasing becomes destructive for an individual, several consequences and behaviours may occur:
- Self-Neglect – People-pleasers are more prone to health issues as they devote very little time to taking care of themselves. Their efforts towards taking care of others conflict with their own need to be active, de-stress, plan healthy meals, etc.
- Passive aggression and/or resentment – Over time, people-pleasers tend to find themselves silently angry at the people in their life. Their desire to be kind will suppress that anger but unexpressed anger often turns into passive aggression. They may be making sharp comments, crack sarcastic jokes, or make subtle actions. Unfortunately, in their quest to be accepted and loved, mounting resentment is the biggest destroyer of relationships.
- Stress and Depression – People-pleasers may be feeling stressed and exhausted, too busy doing things for everyone else but themselves. This can create vicious cycles of stress and unhealthy behaviours.
- The feeling of being taken advantage of – When a request from others become overwhelming and that the validation doesn’t occur, people-pleasers may be frequently complaining of the feeling to be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, this may be true. By always saying yes to requests for favours without imposing any boundaries, other people may start asking for too much and have difficulty to understand when and where to stop.
- The feeling of not being good enough – When the purpose of pleasing others is to validate your self-worth and that the validation doesn’t occur, this can lead to deep disappointments, a feeling of failure & a feeling of not being good enough.
When one or more of these behaviours are displayed, it is crucial to shift their focus from others to themselves.
The fact is, it’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves when we are too busy accommodating others. It is also when we are able to take care of ourselves that we can then display kindness instead of people-pleasing.
Self-care is crucial. It means making a priority of our physical and emotional needs. Self-care is the birthplace of self-respect and self-validation. From there, boundaries can be created, from there, true kindness can occur.
Some people may be neglecting their health by constantly focusing on others. Some others may be showing signs of stress, irritability or depression….. Regardless, what matters is to understand the fear or the limiting beliefs behind their behaviour. Is it a need to fit in? Is it a fear of rejection? Is it a need for validation?
Re-focusing on one-self and seeking for internal solutions rather than external validation of self-worth can create the shift.
When observing one or more negative signs of “people-pleasing”, it is crucial for a coach to 1) Be curious about the reasons behind the need for “people-pleasing” in order to bring awareness to our client. 2) Create awareness around practising self-care and shifting the focus from others to themselves.
Practising self-care may have hundreds of different meaning. It will be different for each individual and each situation. But creating awareness on how self-care could serve the client is the primary focus.
They may decide to work on saying “no” more often, create a healthier routine, protect their own schedule, spend more time alone, defining new boundaries or spend more time on activities that could help them grow as a human being…. The decision is up to them.
Here are a few questions that could help in creating awareness and the shift:
- How important is it for you to please others?
- How is serving others serving you?
- How is making others your priority affecting you?
- What is the worse than can happen if you say no?
- How else could you meet those needs?
- What would the situation feel as if you were to prioritize your own needs?
- What would happen if you were to take care of yourself first?
- What would be a good way to practice self-care in your situation?