People Pleasing: Stop It? Or Just Do It Differently?

…(I)nstead of taking the conventional wisdom and toughening yourself up and learning to say “no,” it’s far better to focus more on truly upping your social prowess and inspiring good quality people to love you naturally and spontaneously. Katharine Di Cerbo, on people pleasing

Previously I’ve written about “Ways to Stop People-Pleasing,” which focused on the negative aspects of prioritizing others’ needs and/or happiness over one’s own. But what about the positive aspects of people-pleasing?

Life coach Katharine Di Cerbo makes a good case in “A Powerful Way to Make People Pleasing Work For You, Not Against You” that there can be “mutually beneficial people pleasing” if you know how to do it.

One key is to stop being unseen and allow others to return the favor, so to speak. “…(W)hen you constantly shut down your own needs in favor of elevating someone else’s, you are making yourself invisible.”

Why are some of us unseen too much of the time? As Jonice Webb, PhD, states, invisible adults were often invalidated kids. Her book Running On Empty: Overcoming Your Childhood Emotional Neglect (see post) could be useful for gaining a deeper understanding of the connection between not getting one’s early emotional needs met and later feelings of invisibility.

The following are the several steps suggested by Di Cerbo toward achieving better people pleasing. Associated explanations are paraphrased by me:

  • Practice pushing your comfort zone around acquaintances first–Be more open and truthful about who you are.
  • Observe your instincts carefully–It’s often the case that “what you want to do for others might actually be a clue as to what it is that you really want…”
  • Give and watch–In “small doses” offer support or aid, then look for signs of “warm appreciation.”

On the commonly expressed belief that it’s not okay to have expectations when you give, Di Cerbo has this response:

…(D)o you really want to deepen a friendship with someone who doesn’t at least let you know they value your generous nature?
Friendship and altruism are not the same! It’s ok to expect friends to give back!
Making sure that people pleasing doesn’t eat you alive is distinctly tied to surrounding yourself with other generous and caring people!

In closing, an anonymous, and I think pertinent, quote found online:

Life is not a give and take relationship. The more you give, the more they take. If you take “take” out of the equation, you have a give and give relationship. Works out better every time.

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