How to Stop People Pleasing and Find Approval Within
Seeking approval and people pleasing is a genetically ingrained trait that all humans have. For our ancestors who lived in tribes, getting ostracized from the group was life-threatening. As a result, disapproval is a legitimate fear that many people still suffer from nowadays.
If you are one of these people, who find themselves bending over backward just to please someone else, this trait can become toxic and destroy your self-esteem. Whether you are looking for approval from your coworkers, family or friends, it will often result in you giving up your own values for someone else, and your personal boundaries being overstepped.
Getting over this fear is a process that takes time and effort, but it is necessary for future progress. The end result means understanding that your own approval is the only validation you will ever need.
Where Does Your Fear Come From?
Starting this process requires you to go back to your earliest memories and try to detect why you are so afraid of rejection. Many people find this helpful since it breaks down the problem into a simpler one. Finding the source of your fear can help you rationalize it and control it in future situations.
Perhaps your parents pressured you to get straight A-s in school. So now you are conditioned to think that anything below your maximum effort is unacceptable. Maybe you had trouble fitting in a certain group during your adolescence, so you make up for it by people pleasing.
Stop Undermining Yourself
The following step will require a certain amount of practice. It will mean starting to value your own skills and knowledge, respecting yourself and understanding that your time is not expendable.
Next time you disagree with someone on something that’s relevant to you; don’t be afraid to speak out. At the end of the day, everyone is a person on their own and it’s completely normal to have varying views and notions. It’s also helpful to practice asserting your point of view where it’s relevant, such as brainstorming sessions, group projects or simple talks over coffee.
Understanding the fact that your own satisfaction matters more than anyone else’s is crucial to stop people pleasing. Once you start believing this, your decision-making process will be oriented more towards doing what’s right for you, as opposed to doing what someone else wants you to do for their gain.
Learning through Failure
Failing doesn’t mean that you are incapable. It simply means that this particular method didn’t work out very well and you need to try a new one. There’s nothing scary about this, it’s simply a form of learning – the most effective kind.
According to this mindset, disapproval from someone else shouldn’t be seen as something bad either. Instead, it should be seen as feedback. You are not perfect and you are bound to make mistakes. Others pointing out these mistakes can only improve your work and teach you a new lesson.
Of course, you should keep in mind that there is a difference between constructive criticism and degradation. Learn how to differentiate one from the other: one is helpful and the other is toxic. The people who treat you with the latter are doing you no favors and should be avoided as much as you can.
Aiming for a positive self-image by pleasing people can leave you vulnerable to abuse. In other words, people who see that their say-so is valuable to you, can use it to manipulate you. Learning to unconditionally appreciate yourself, regardless of other’s opinions, makes you a stronger person ready to tackle new challenges.