A part of us as human beings wants to be liked. We all crave to belong, to fit in, to be accepted. And there is nothing wrong with that. We want to feel loved by our family and friends, we want to be respected by our peers, we want to be acknowledged by our boss. Wanting to be part of a circle, a community is indeed in our human nature.
What happens though when this feeling turns into a need? Instead of wanting to be liked, we need to be liked. We measure our decisions and our actions through other people’s eyes. We long for approval each step of our own journey, either personal or professional. Sooner than we realize, we start behaving differently, trying to meet someone else’s expectations and drifting further away from our true self. What impact would you say it has in yourself and in your life?
Here I invite you to take a moment and think about the last time you did or said something to please someone else, even if it were contrary to your opinion or beliefs. How did it feel at that exact time? And how did you feel afterwards? How did your actions fit into your values and who you are? Perhaps you did it just to please the other person or gain her appreciation. Maybe it was to quickly settle the issue or to avoid conflict at all. Whatever your motivations were, I ask you: What will happen next time when confronted with a similar situation? And the one after that? How long will you behave or be someone you are not in order to meet other people’s needs. What about your needs? Who is taking care of them?
There is no need to be confrontational or aggressive to clearly state what you want or do not want. However, if you want to live the life you dream of, at some point you’ve to start prioritizing yourself and your needs. Whether you already know you’re a people-pleaser or you’re just finding out that about yourself, there is a small exercise you can try out. Next time you are talking to someone - a family member, a friend, a colleague – and they say something you do not agree with, instead of nodding your head in silent consent, just state your point of view assertively. Try saying something like “I understand what you are saying, but I think differently…let me tell you how…”.
Assertiveness gives you the power to tell your truth without sounding insensitive or arrogant. Your truth doesn’t have to be the same as that of others and you shouldn’t have to keep it locked away. Being true to who you are shows how much you respect yourself and your values. And if you ever have to please someone, then let that someone be you.