I used to be afraid to say my opinion. The dreams I had were usually in contradiction to what other people expected me to do. Just as any woman with a “good girl syndrome,” I was too, ruled by pleasing others. Not everyone. But mainly those people who resembled my parents.
This went so far that I studied business out of fear to stand up for what I was naturally interested so my family could be proud of me. I also stayed in a long-term relationship at least three years longer than I should have had. All done because of the fear that I would lose approval and validation of others.
Does it sound familiar to you?
Luckily for me, I woke up one day and decided to change my life. My endless prayers brought answers, and I was faced with a series of eye-opening realizations.
Suddenly, I could see clearly the ways I was holding myself captive by other people’s opinions. And I got sick of it because I could see how much I was living in a lie. The lie of who I was.
So, I know first-hand how challenging it can be to stand up for yourself and your dreams. But coming to the other side and living my dreams, I also know how essential it is to follow your heart and set clear boundaries.
Let me share with you five tips on how you can gradually stop a people-pleasing behavior.
1. You can’t save others.
Often, we want to help someone so much that we lose ourselves in the process. We can go a distance to save another person from misery. This is especially true with our close family or best friends. But every challenge carries a valuable lesson for us.
When we try to remove the burden from someone we love, we also deprive them of the important lesson. The problem is that it’s their lesson, not ours. So, we actually don’t help them at all. The best way to help others is to be the light and inspiration for them. So that once they’re ready to change, they’ll come and ask for help.
2. Explore who you are.
Six years ago, I assumed I knew how I was, but it was just my false identity based on fears. I couldn’t have known who I was because I didn’t listen to my heart. It’s common that we keep going without stopping to think about who we are.
Let me ask you a question: ‘Who would you be without your status, job, relationships, and money? What does make you “you”?’
It’s very likely that if you haven’t been living from your heart for some time that it’s difficult to answer these questions. One way to start is to take a piece of paper and write down all the daring, crazy, and most secret things that you’d like to experience in your life. And then go and start doing them. You’ll get to know your true self by a doing what you love. You’ll discover new things about yourself that you had no idea existed.
3. Give yourself approval.
Just as I was unconsciously seeking approval, so you may have too. When I looked deeper behind the need for approval, I’ve discovered that the approval I was truly looking for was my own.
Imagine how would your life change if you’d support yourself in any situation. ‘What if you would never turn the back on yourself again?’ Assume that you’d stand by your side no matter what is happening, how would you feel?
Giving approval to yourself is something that you have completely under your control. You can tell yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes because you’ll learn from them. You can promise yourself not to leave you under any circumstances. Because let’s be honest, we leave ourselves in standing alone in shame, guilt, and self-judgment when things don’t go as we’d wanted.
4. Everyone is a sovereign soul.
Yes, we’re all unique, but at the soul level, we’re all equal. When we broaden our perspectives, we can feel that we’re all interconnected and learn our lessons in the school of life. No one has the power over you if you don’t allow it.
Just as you can’t control the way other people perceive you or act towards you. I like to think about my life as a playing ground for inner growth where my primary relationship is between me and my soul (higher self). Thus, I recognize that other people are my divine mirrors to help me see what I can’t see by myself. But they aren’t here to make me do things that I don’t want to, or which aren’t in accordance with my inner growth plan.
Other people are my divine mirrors to help me see what I can’t see by myself. @SylviaSalow (Click to Tweet!)
5. Find and live your life purpose.
A life purpose is something we all have since we were born. Contrary to some misconceptions, we don’t have to work hard on deserving it or finding what it is. We’ve always have it. Yet the issue is that we don’t allow ourselves to realize what our life purpose is. We put so many fears and judgment into our natural gifts that we think it must be more complicated than it is.
The easiest way to find your life purpose is to allow yourself to do things that you love. When you consciously live your life purpose, you feel good and guided every day. With a clear intention for your days, it’s less likely that you’d like to divert into a people-pleasing behavior. You know that you can create anything you want and life is too precious to lose yourself in other people’s lives and opinions.
I’d love to hear from you; Which of these tips is the most challenging for you and why?
Let us know in the comments below.
Sylvia Salow is a motivational public speaker, an intuitive life coach, and an author of two books. In her work, she encourages people to unlock their potential and let go of their fears and emotional pain that stops them from creating the life they desire. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Spencer Selover.