The Dangers of People Pleasing

As a people pleaser, I used to feel guilty every time I had to define my personal boundaries over the small stuff in my life. Setting my boundaries around the big stuff was a little easier, because my parents taught me how to physically stand up for myself. But pleasing people was in my blood. I didn’t want to offend others if I could avoid it. I didn’t want to leave them out. I didn’t want to cast them out. I didn’t want to exclude them or make them feel inferior. I knew these feelings very well. I didn’t want to wish them on anyone. It took me a long time to realise that people-pleasing is not small stuff. It is big stuff. It affects my emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.

Extremely loyal people can barely help themselves. They are devoted to people pleasing. However, I began to realise that even if being nice to others is a noble way to live, it is not if it drains my energy so much that my health and happiness are jeopardised.

Too many people were taking advantage of my loyalty.  It became a pattern for me. I would let them push me too far. I would feel hurt by their lack of consideration for me. Then I would get angry enough to leave the friendship or relationship. This is how I used to protect myself. I would let other people push me too far before I set my personal boundaries.  I was too busy pleasing others and forgot to please myself. I would let others push me to the point where I no longer gave a damn about them.  Looking back on the situation, I have to say they were not the best friends I could have had, because good friends don’t take advantage of each other. I soon woke up to myself. I needed a spiritual transfusion. I decided to replace people pleasing with mutual respect. Here’s how I went about it.

I knew that physical boundaries were important. Everyone needs boundaries to protect themselves, to define their limits and to set their personal standards. To establish my physical boundaries, I began to focus on taking better care of my body.

I imagine that there are seven invisible limbs in my physical body that need my care and attention. If any of these limbs is at risk of being violated, then I know my physical boundaries may be in danger. The seven limbs I imagine are a part of my physical body are:

  • Physical survival
  • Physical satisfaction
  • Physical independence
  • Physical healing
  • Physical expression
  • Physical intelligence
  • Physical interdependence

Boundaries come in many forms. There are emotional and mental boundaries that we need to erect to protect our psychological wellbeing. To establish my personal boundaries here, I began to focus on taking care of my emotional body. There are seven limbs in my emotional body that I need to nurture. If anyone of these limbs is at risk of being violated, then I know my emotional boundaries may be in danger. The seven limbs of the emotional body are:

  • Emotional survival
  • Emotional satisfaction
  • Emotional independence
  • Emotional healing
  • Emotional expression
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Emotional interdependence

The same applies to the mental body. Our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, reasoning, and intuition need protection and nurture, so that each one continues to grow, expand and develop throughout life.  The seven limbs of the mental body are:

  • Mental survival
  • Mental satisfaction
  • Mental independence
  • Mental healing
  • Mental expression
  • Mental intelligence
  • Mental interdependence

Setting spiritual and psychic boundaries are no different to setting emotional and mental boundaries. They are designed to protect our life force and our spirit. The seven limbs of the spiritual and psychic body are:

  • Spiritual survival
  • Spiritual satisfaction
  • Spiritual independence
  • Spiritual healing
  • Spiritual expression
  • Spiritual intelligence
  • Spiritual interdependence

Financial boundaries, in the form of investments, insurance and savings protect our ability to survive and our capacity to thrive in the world. Financial boundaries also support our physical boundaries; our physical health, safety and security, the clothes and shoes that we wear and the roof over our head.

  • Financial survival
  • Financial satisfaction
  • Financial independence
  • Financial healing
  • Financial expression
  • Financial intelligence
  • Financial interdependence

People pleasing taught me that what I thought was small stuff turned out to be big stuff, and the big stuff is often really small stuff. As a people-pleaser I leave myself wide open and vulnerable to external forces when I try to live my life without the necessary boundaries to support and protect me. I am the only one who can establish my personal boundaries. Only I can maintain them. As a normal, healthy adult, no-one else can do it for me. I can do it the easy way by paying attention to the health of my bodies. Or I can do it the hard way. The hard way is not always easy or pleasant. Here’s where it might even hurt. I have found that others will oblige me by forcing me, pushing me or even bullying me until I stand firm and set my boundaries around what is right for me.

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About gailgoodwin

As an author, trainer and mentor, my purpose is to inspire vision, creativity and productivity in the business of life and the life of your business.
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