Are You a People Pleaser?
Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself. And that’s a lot. Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect. — Rob Reiner
I often struggle with wanting people to be happy and feel a sense of responsibility if they are not. Especially the people I love and care for. When I see them disturbed, upset, or struggling, my whole heart tries to help them find a state of happiness. It’s such a twisted feeling, hoping to fix someone whose patterns, emotions, and feelings happen independent of you. This desire to help is rooted in me from childhood, when I tried to lift my father’s heavy heart and make him happy.It wasn’t just about my dad. This desire transferred to my relationships with men and to my friendships. I attracted people who would come to me with their problems, and I’d become consumed with trying to help them. For years, my identity was wrapped up in making other people happy. I had no boundaries. If I entered a room and sensed someone was unhappy, I assigned myself the role of getting them out of their unhappiness and lifting them up, which can be exhausting and not a lot of fun.
My personal power, confidence, and self-esteem were in direct proportion to how much I helped others. You might be the same way. Operating this way in life can actually suck out a lot of your own personal energy and make you feel depleted, as if you have a leaky faucet that your energy is escaping from. Becoming aware that the faucet is leaking is the beginning of action. Then, recognise you have to back off and allow people their own experience and process. Your responsibility is to bring your own energy back to you.If you love helping others, you might want to consider becoming a counsellor. But if that’s not what you want, ask yourself some fundamental questions about what drives you to feel worthy of your own happiness. Do you believe that you are only allowed to be happy if other people are happy? That type of altruism has its roots in feeling unworthy. The belief is “I don’t have a right to my own joy and happiness unless other people around me are happy.”
I’ve often thought about the origin of that belief; it could very well be a way to avoid looking at your own life, your own pain, your own desires, and your own dreams. When I was younger, I had a lot of things I wanted to achieve, but I didn’t know how. I felt very insecure, and my confidence was shaken when my career as an actress wasn’t happening. Taking care of people became a source of solace, it gave me a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It’s very important to be ruthless with yourself and say, “Is this pattern serving or sabotaging me?” Each one of us has been dealt a set of cards. None of us is given a complete deck. But we are all given a trump card, the truth that something bigger than ourselves is working through us. This applies to everyone.
My saving grace is that when I see people who are going through a tough time, I remember that something bigger in me is also in them. I ask myself to forgo any sense of responsibility and not to presume to know what’s going on with them. I’m not their saviour. You can have distance as well as compassion, and you can know that there is a solution for them and they will get through to the other side. That they will grow and evolve and learn what they’ve come here to learn. You can support other people without trying to fix them. You can share wisdom, point the way, offer another perspective, be a sounding board or a safe haven. Offer practical solutions and help them see options. These are very powerful ways that I have allowed other people to be there for me and that I’ve been there for other people. That’s the gift we all have to comfort, to lift, and to inspire others. So, if you are a people fixer, I challenge you to question why you are doing that: What is the benefit and what is the reward? What is the tape running in your head stating that you don’t have a right to your happiness unless other people are happy? You can erase the old beliefs and realise that there is tremendous grace in allowing people their own experiences and processes.
Remember the powerful Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Be aware of where you place your energy, your thoughts, and your emotions.Your first responsibility is to yourself. That’s the greatest gift we can give to each other.
Sit comfortably in a relaxed position; close your eyes and take a deep breath and exhale. As you exhale, breathe out any feelings of tension, preoccupations, burdens, and worries. Just come to the present, right here, right now.As you take your next breath, receive your breath and observe the rising and the falling of your breath until you become more relaxed, calm, and centred. Visualise a beautiful, calm wave entering your heart, your mind, and your emotions. As you exhale, breathe out any turbulence, any feelings that you should be or do anything other than what you’re doing or being. This is a moment for you. Focus on your belly, the centre of where the emotions reside, where your power base is, your willpower—your solar plexus—and start to breathe deeply into that centre.
Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly. Imagine that there is a bridge connecting them. Make this bridge filled with sturdiness, strength, and stability. See yourself crossing this bridge and connecting your two centres: your heart and your power centre. Imagine cords and energies that attach to other people in your life. Family, friends, people you know, people you love and care about that have part of your energy extended to them. Start to cut those cords. Literally take your hands and start to cut these cords between you and other people.As you take your next breath, take in all this energy that has been going out—to trying to fix things, fix people, make things better—and draw it back to you. With every breath imagine that this energy is coming back to you, is filling you, and making you calm, strong, and protected. Start to feel a sense of wholeness, completeness, and peace. Really scan your own consciousness to see if there are any hidden energies going out to people you care about, people you want to see acting or being different, and without any hesitation, pull the energies back, cut the cords between you and them, and see them in perfect health and well-being.Keep sending energy to your heart, then back to your centre, and filling yourself with love, calmness, and a sense of completion. Know that all is in perfect balance and that we have all the resources we need to make our lives work. Place your hands back on your heart and imagine that an energy of light and radiance is filling you and extending to all those in your consciousness, all the situations and all the circumstances, from all your light and inner radiance. Start to send it out with a sense of compassion. Affirm that there is nothing for you to do but keep an open heart filled with grace. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.