People-Pleasing Behavior | Self-Care for the Modern Mama

People Pleasing Behavior + How People Pleasers Communicate

Learn more about standard people-pleasing behavior and communication challenges

As people-pleasers, one of the hardest challenges we face is communication. As natural givers, we find ourselves so wrapped up in others that we tend to lose touch with what it is we truly want, and in those fleeting moments, we do feel what we want, we don’t communicate our wishes to the necessary parties.

Because that’s scary and someone might get upset.

Read next: Tips for Effective Communication as a People-Pleaser

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And when people get upset, it feels like our fault. And when things feel like our fault, we start to question our intentions in the first place. Wouldn’t it just be more comfortable to smile and nod and pretend it’s all okay? Yes, you tell yourself, that sounds like a great plan.

Sure, keeping your most authentic thoughts and feelings under wraps works in the short term. Your days’ progress and those around you seem quite content. You start to notice that the anxious gnaw of someone being mad/upset/frustrated with you disappears, probably because you’ve been so “go with the flow” – how could anyone be angry? You’re not voicing your opinions, and you’re there at the drop of a hat to help just about anyone who asks. Me? Feelings? Thoughts? Opinions? No, no, I don’t have those. Let’s do you what you want! 

Oh, let’s not forget. In those moments, someone gives you options; you quickly realize that, somehow, Indecisive has become your middle name. Oops.

More time passes…

You find that people have stopped asking your opinion altogether, and they aren’t concerned with what you’re doing or how you’re doing it. They’re pretty much focused on how you’re going to help them.

Shoot. It’s coming. You start to feel something brewing inside. It begins with the back and forth dialogue in your head of how you wish the interactions you’re having with people went down. More time goes by, and those internal conversations make their way out of your mind, and you begin to make snarky faces and mutter under your breath as you walk away from yet another my-smile-is-plastered-on conversation.

Chats of this nature continue…

You’ve found your middle name of Indecisive has swapped in for a new one, Passive Aggressive. See, passive-aggressiveness is a people-pleasers close friend. We try to subtly (read: passively) get our point across, but make sure my-smile-is-plastered-on way of doing things is still showing outwardly. Oh me? Why yes, I’m complying, but I’m also secretly cursing your very existence in my brain because how could you be so insensitive to my needs?

…and then you get a wakeup call!

And you realize just how rude you’ve been being! We convince ourselves that we are being “too emotional” and jump back into being “go with the flow” because that’s when everyone feels happiest (even though you’re dying inside). It doesn’t matter, you say! People are pleased with me, and that feels damn good. Yay me! People-pleasing is fun!

…and then you snap!

Passive Aggressive has packed up, and your new middle name is Resentment. See, resentment is a real b*tch. In our minds, the reason we’re feeling so resentful is that everyone around us is so insensitive to our needs. We begin to feel overly emotional because WHY CAN’T PEOPLE SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING?

Why has my boss/sister/mom/dad/husband/best friend become my worst enemy in a matter of weeks?

Why do they not care?

Why aren’t they asking me what’s wrong?

Why am I so mad at them?

Why don’t they understand?

No one understands.

So you yell, get in a fight, curse, online shop, binge eat or drink, you act out.

But then, you make up.

Quite simply because you can’t stand having people mad at you, and you quickly find yourself back at square one.

This, my friends, is the cycle of communication (or lack thereof) of a chronic people-pleaser. I know because I was one. I will always be.

News flash: it’s your responsibility

In my book, Boundaries with SoulI talk about this immense responsibility we have to communicate our boundaries.

As people-pleasers, we typically don’t voice what’s okay and what’s not okay with us (our boundaries), but that’s where we’re messing it all up. We must accept that we cannot change the actions of others; we can only control how we set and communicate our soulful boundaries.

We can have the most loving and caring spouse in the entire world, but if we aren’t voicing our needs, thoughts, opinions, and boundaries, it is not their fault when they don’t live up to your expectations standards.

Side note: I strongly dislike the word expectations and choose to use standards instead. That’s a post for another time!

The next time you feel yourself yearning to say something, I challenge you just to say it. Communicate. Let your needs be heard. You’re worth it, my friend.


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  1. Stefanie says:

    Wow – that is me to a T! I didn’t realize the pattern and path it follows-you really did a great job taking us down that path to see what we are doing. I want to stop for sure-I just don’t know how. I will check out your book-because if your blog post was this awesome I can just imagine what a full book will be like. The resentment part scares me because I don’t like being rude to my spouse-I need to fix that.

    Thank you for this post! I’m pinning to share with others

    • Hi Stefanie!

      I am so happy that you found the information here supportive and valuable. 🙂 If you decide to check out Carley’s book, be sure to reach out and let us know what you think!

      Sending love your way. XO

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