Ever find yourself bending over backwards to keep everyone else happy, only to realize that you're the one feeling miserable?
In this episode, we dive deep into the world of people-pleasing and its harmful effects on our well-being and relationships. As part of the discussion, we discuss WHAT people pleasing is, HOW we become people pleasers, WHY it is toxic for our well-being, and WHAT the connection is between people-pleasing and codependency.
But that's not all! I also share some practical tips and strategies on how to break free from this toxic pattern and reclaim your sense of self.
Overcoming people-pleasing and codependency is a journey towards self-empowerment and healthier connections. It may take some time and effort, but trust me, the rewards are totally worth it.
So, buckle up and get ready to unmask those toxic patterns that may hold you back from creating the life and relationships you truly desire. Let's step into meaningful relationships together.
At the end of this episode, I also make an exciting announcement!
If you're ready to begin setting boundaries like a boss, registration is NOW open for my Empowered Boundaries Bootcamp. The course will begin in mid-November! I am also offering an option to the first 10 people who sign up to take advantage of a special add-on offer. For only $100, you can add on a 90-minute 1:1 Intensive session with me to help you crush your limiting beliefs and release your emotional triggers so you don't back down on your boundaries! Click below for more info.
Empowered Boundaries Bootcamp
If you enjoyed this episode or would like to share feedback or a topic for a future episode, feel free to leave me a message at our brand-new website:
Stepping into Meaningful Relationships
I look forward to connecting with you!
Corissa is a Somatic Trauma-Informed Relationship Coach™ & Narcissistic Abuse Specialist ™ who helps women cultivate loving, fulfilling relationships by releasing their limiting beliefs and emotional triggers. She is also a recovering people pleaser, perfectionist, and codependent who guides clients through healing their inner critic, letting go of the guilt, and the tendency to give more than they have. She helps clients release the patterns that are holding them back so they can step into a more empowered, authentic, confident, and interdependent version of themselves and ultimately find a meaningful relationship that aligns with their true value and worth.
Book a FREE 30-minute Confidential Clarity Call via my website below.
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Welcome to the Stepping Into Meaningful Relationships podcast. I'm your host, carissa Stepp. I'm a relationship and human design coach, and this podcast is designed to help you create a stronger connection to yourself so you can transform the relationships around you, whether that be with your partner, a friend, a parent, a child or your business. We'll be looking at relationships through the lens of human design, and my guests and I will bring you the tools, tips and tricks to create deeply meaningful connections with others. But first, let's start with you. The most important relationship you have is the one with yourself. Thank you for tuning in. Now let's get to today's episode. Hey, hey, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Stepping Into Meaningful Relationships, the podcast that helps you transform the most important relationship in your life, the one with yourself, so you can create healthier connections with others. I'm your host, carissa Stepp, and today we're going to be talking about something that I personally have a lot of experience with. You see, I am a self-proclaimed recovering people pleaser. Back in 2019, I went through what I would call a crisis of self-realization. It was a moment where I remember staring back at my reflection in the mirror, wondering how I got there, who I was and why I felt so unhappy and deeply unfulfilled. It wasn't until I embarked on a self-discovery journey another year or so later, when I realized that so much of the life that I had created was done so by trying to meet the expectations of everyone around me. I had created precisely the lifestyle that I wanted, but not exactly the life that I deeply desired. I had no clue how I had gotten there, but I was eventually able to identify that it was my people-pleasing tendencies that got me there. So today I am going to take you on a journey to unmask the toxic patterns that may be holding you back from creating the life or the meaningful relationships that you deeply desire. We'll be diving into what people-pleasing truly is, why you may become a people-pleaser to begin with, how it silently poisons you and is toxic to your well-being, why it's closely linked to codependency and, of course, what you can do to overcome it. So we're going to begin with defining what people-pleasing is. Now, I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with the term people-pleasing, but for the sake of diving deep, let's just define what it means within the confines of this discussion. People-pleasing is the act of prioritizing the desires and approval of others above your own. It's when we subconsciously self-sacrifice or self-abandon in order to receive external validation due to a fear of rejection or not belonging. You may be wondering how this subconscious pattern develops. It's something that I had wondered for a long time, so I'm going to pose these questions to you that I had been at one time asking myself. Why do you feel so responsible for keeping other people happy? Why do you feel a deep sense of shame when you let someone else down and end up taking full responsibility for their emotions around the disappointment that you may have caused them? Why are you so uncomfortable with conflict and confrontation, making you feel like you always have to be agreeable, the peacemaker, the caretaker, the mediator? Well, it turns out that people-pleasing often develops as a coping mechanism in childhood, as a way to self-preserve within dysfunctional family dynamics. And remember we talked a little bit about dysfunctional family dynamics in episode 35. So go back and check that out. When you're done listening to this episode, let's take a closer look at how and why this behavior emerges. So within a dysfunctional family dynamic, the home environment is often marked by inconsistency, unpredictability and emotional volatility. As a child, you might have felt very uncomfortable with not knowing what to expect next, it may have caused you to feel like you had to live your life walking on eggshells and, as a result, it may have caused you to struggle with feeling safe in the unknown, feeling unsafe in the uncertainty, and so, as a way of learning how to cope with that, you learned that by keeping the people around you happy, so that you didn't experience that unpredictability in, perhaps, the emotions of the adults around you, you learned people pleasing behaviors. In a dysfunctional family, there's also a lack of emotional support and nurturing. Typically, there is a caregiver who is emotionally distant or who may be emotionally negligent, and so, as a result, as a child, you may not have received the validation, love and care that you needed in order to develop a healthy sense of self. It may not have felt safe for you to be yourself, and so you adapted another persona or became the person you thought you should be in order to receive the validation, the love and the care that you needed as a child. In some cases, children in dysfunctional families may be forced into the role of caretaker or mediator, which is not their responsibility. That's not the responsibility of a child, that is the responsibility of an adult. So this can lead to a strong desire in children to maintain harmony and to keep the peace in the family, because when everyone else is happy and getting along, then these children could feel or you could feel Like you were safe in your environment, right? It's almost like a way of trying to control your external environment in order to control the internal environment within you. You may have learned people pleasing as a coping mechanism. Children naturally crave the love and approval of their caregivers for safety and security. When those caregivers are inconsistent or emotionally distant, children believe that their safety depends on pleasing their parents in order to feel safe and secure, which is something else we just discussed. And so it doesn't have to necessarily happen strictly and only in dysfunctional family dynamics, but this can happen when a caregiver is just emotionally distant, right. Perhaps maybe they were very stressed out a lot due to work or health issues, or because maybe they were taking care of an elderly parent, right, your grandparent and so, as a result, they just didn't have the energy or the capacity to show up for you consistently in a way that felt emotionally supportive. We could also see that a child might suppress their needs and emotions as a way to avoid conflict or negative reactions. The suppression becomes a way of life, as they believe that expressing themselves is too risky. So what happens in the longterm is you may have shut down emotionally, which can hinder and impact your relationships as you got older. Creating a false sense of self is something that a people pleaser will do as a way to meet the expectations of others. So this false self is a survival strategy to gain approval and avoid rejection. And this goes back to the idea of wearing a mask or feeling like you can't be your true, authentic self, which we spoke about back in episode 33. Children may learn to survey the room to understand which persona or version of themselves would be approved of by the group. Well, at the same time concealing or hiding in shame the parts of themselves that they fear will be rejected. People pleasing can also develop due to a fear of abandonment. That's one of the people pleasers biggest fears. Disfunctional family dynamics can really instill a deep fear of abandonment in children. They learn that they must conform to the wishes of their caregivers in order to maintain any semblance of connection, and this could mean that they feel that they have to be a certain way right, maybe the good girl or the good boy, or they need to be overly polite or pretty or handsome or high achieving or smart or, you know, athletically skilled in order to receive any kind of love, right or connection to their parent, or recognition or attention from their parent. You know, people pleasers will often use their ability to please as a means of earning love and avoiding abandonment. They become very adept at anticipating the needs and wants of others, believing that it's going to keep them safe from rejection. So, again, they're going to learn to mask the parts of themselves that they believe will cause them to be rejected or abandoned or outcast. So why is people pleasing so toxic? Well, let's discuss some of the long-term effects. People pleasing leads to a loss of self-identity, which is what I had experienced. Right, when you constantly adapt yourself to meet the expectations of others, you begin to lose touch with who you truly are. And when you're wearing a mask all the time, pretending to be someone that you're not, it is incredibly exhausting, and what happens is it also ends up impacting your relationships with people. People pleasers often struggle to build authentic, balanced relationships, because inauthenticity is the foundation of people pleasing. So when you're not showing up in your relationships as your true self, it makes it really hard to create a connection with someone for who you really are right it's. Your relationship becomes based on the person you're pretending to be, not the real you. To take that further, and in other words, your connections may be based on the persona that you've created rather than your true self, which hinders the development of genuine connections. So what happens is oftentimes is, eventually you may feel that you are not heard or seen in your relationship, and it's not necessarily that your partner's not hearing you or not seeing you, but what they're hearing and what they're seeing is not the real version of you. It's some alternate persona that you have shown up as, because you're hiding the real parts of you. And so with people pleasers, because of the sphere of abandonment, the sphere of rejection, they struggle to feel confident or safe being who they are. They feel uncomfortable, it feels vulnerable to even safely speak their truth. You might struggle with even asking for what you need, and so that's gonna obviously cause a big disconnect in your relationships. Because if you can't even feel safe saying how you truly feel, if you don't feel safe asking for what you need, if you don't feel safe asking your partner for the emotional support that you need because you learned in your childhood that that was not ever a safe thing for you to do, and so you shut that all down. Then, of course, the communication in your relationship is going to fall apart, and your relationship is likely going to also fall apart, and people pleasing can also lead to chronic stress and anxiety. Right, that constant fear of disappointing or upsetting others can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. It becomes this toxic recipe for self-doubt, as you're always going to second-guess yourself and your decisions, because every decision you've ever made hasn't been because it was what you wanted. It was because it's what you believed you had to do in order to receive love or validation or approval or acceptance. So, over time, the reason why people pleasing is so toxic is because it leads to resentment, especially when you end up doing things you don't want to do simply to gain approval. Especially when, in your relationships, you are feeling so deeply unseen and unheard. You're going to start to resent your partner for that. But really you need to take a closer look in the mirror and say well, what's my accountability in this? And if you're not showing up as your true, authentic self in the relationship, then it's not your partner's fault that you're not feeling seen or heard. You're masking yourself so they can't see you for who you are. They can't hear what you really think or believe because you're not voicing it. So over time, you know, the anger and the resentment starts to build towards those that you're trying to please and it becomes this lose lose situation, as it can really slowly start to poison your relationships. Now, people pleasing is also closely linked to codependent behavior. So let's discuss why that is and, again, the adverse effects that it can have. So first let's just define what codependency is, because I feel like sometimes I throw this word around and maybe some of you don't even understand or know what that is. So codependency is? It's a complex and often misunderstood concept, but it refers to a dysfunctional and unhealthy pattern of behavior and relationships where one person the codependent is excessively reliant on another person for their emotional well-being, their self-esteem and sometimes even their identity. So this reliance is often characterized by enabling caretaking and a disproportionate focus on meeting the needs and desires of the other person, often to the detriment of one's own needs and boundaries. So codependent relationships are often marked by a power imbalance for the most part. Where you have this codependent who's trying so hard, so hard to receive that validation, receive the love, the attention, the recognition that they need. And the other person in the relationship kind of holds the power, because the codependent is anticipate with the other person needs. So they self-sacrifice to serve the needs of that partner and as a result, they also self-abandon, right? Because now their needs are no longer important, their wants are no longer important. They may not even know what their wants, their needs or their desires are any longer, because they've become potentially even enmeshed with that other partner which we sometimes call the enabler. So let's discuss why codependency is closely linked to people pleasing. And it's because they share a lot of key characteristics. So we're going to walk through those really quick. Again. The loss of self-identity right, in both cases there's a risk of losing one's sense of self. They both have trouble identifying their own needs, their desires and their values because they are so preoccupied with meeting the needs of everyone else, right. So there's constantly this external focus outside of themselves, on everyone else, instead of actually spending any time focusing on the other partner internally, on what they need. Both codependence and people-pleasers often have a deep-seated fear of rejection and abandonment and this fear just drives them to constantly seek the approval and validation from others, which makes it challenging to assert their own needs or opinions. Codependence will also engage in people-pleasing behaviors, believing that meeting the needs of others will secure their place and their relationship, so that the partner doesn't walk out the door and leave them. It almost becomes like a subtle manipulation, like if I continue to keep meeting your needs, then you won't want to leave me, right, and I will continue to get my needs met right. I'll still hopefully continue to get the love and the recognition and the attention and the validation from you partner if I continue to behave in this way. So a lot of times, you know, codependence and people-pleasers get into these relationship dynamics where it just reinforces the toxicity of these behaviors. Right, they continue to engage in them until they get to the point where they realize either they're so depleted and exhausted that they can't do it anymore they might become physically sick and can no longer meet the needs of their partner and sacrifice their own because now their health, their body, is failing them in some way, or their health is failing them in some way. So they don't have a choice. And then other times, you know, there might be this like awakening moment of whoa, what's going on here? Why do I feel like I felt, you know, so unfulfilled and so unhappy, and why do I feel so lost? So in codependent relationships, the dependent or the codependent person may exhibit people-pleasing behavior and also might feel like they're carrying the weight of the relationship on their shoulders. In both codependent and people-pleasing dynamics, individuals may engage in enabling or caretaking behavior, such as rescuing others from consequences or constantly sacrificing their own well-being to support someone else. Both are actually associated with low self-esteem, so individuals may seek that external validation to feel some sense of self-worth, which leads to that vicious cycle of constantly seeking approval and then, on the flip side, feeling inadequate if that's not obtained. In codependent relationships, there's often a lack of healthy boundaries. People-pleasers tend to blur the lines between themselves and others, making it very difficult to assert their own needs and desires. Having boundaries in place is definitely number one thing that you can do to start to exit a codependent relationship, but also to stop the people-pleasing behavior. Right Like, learning how to say no is super important for anyone who wants to recover from people-pleasing. And both are going to experience, to some degree, inhibited personal growth, because your growth is going to be stifled if you're missing opportunities for self-discovery and self-improvement because you're so focused on everybody else and not yourself, and you may even deny yourself of the opportunity of pursuing your own goals and aspirations, either due to a lack of awareness of what they are right, because you've never actually considered what do I want, or it could be due to a lack of time and energy, because you're so over-committed serving the needs of everybody else. So when you try to be all the things to all the people, you just have nothing left to give, including yourself. You can't do what you want to do because you're too busy doing all the things you believe you need to do in order to stay safe or in order to not be rejected or abandoned. And so, again, as I mentioned, codependent behavior tends to perpetuate dysfunctional patterns, both for you and the people around you that includes your children, by the way and you might enable destructive behaviors in others, and they, in turn, may become dependent on your people-pleasing. So that's a very important dynamic to understand. It's important to note that not all people-pleasers are codependents and not all codependents are necessarily people-pleasers. However, these behaviors often coexist and addressing them can involve similar strategies. So let's dive in now into how you can break free from people-pleasing and codependency. First, it begins, like most things we discuss on this podcast, with self-awareness. If you start by recognizing the codependent behaviors and the people-pleasing tendencies within yourself, you can then start to acknowledge the impact that it has on your life and your well-being. So once you're able to acknowledge that, you can learn to accept that this is a part of how you've shown up in your relationships and then you can start to do something about it. Awareness is always the first step towards making a change. The next step is understanding your triggers. People-pleasing often arises from past experiences or trauma. Codependency stems from dysfunctional family dynamics. So identifying your underlying triggers that lead to this behavior is really important. We know that people-pleasing shows up as a part of you that is trying to keep you safe and secure in your relationships. So recognizing your tendencies and, when they show up, what is triggering you into leaning into those tendencies, is important because, again, you can't change anything until you build awareness around it. When we're triggered, we feel unsafe. So that's the connection I want you to make here. So understanding your triggers is really important, because if you don't feel safe, you're going to lean into these coping strategies, these unhealthy behavioral patterns that you have learned and adapted throughout your life to start to feel safe again. So if we can learn and understand what our triggers are and then we can build somatic practices around that to down-regulate our nervous system when we're triggered, we can start to break free from engaging in these toxic behaviors and these unhealthy patterns. Prioritizing your self-care is also really important. You need to make sure you're taking care of yourself. That includes anything, any kind of activity that's going to promote your physical, emotional or mental health. Practicing self-compassion is another part of this right Replacing self-criticism with self-compassion, understanding that you're worthy of love and respect just for being who you are, without the need to constantly please others or be someone that you're not. Remember to treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Understand that making mistakes is a part of being human and you don't have to be perfect. Self-compassion helps in releasing the need for external validation. When we can learn to love ourselves, we stop seeking outside love to fill those holes within us. Building your self-esteem is also really important and reminding yourself that you are worthy and valuable, independent of what other people think of you, independent of their approval or validation. You don't need their approval or their validation to live your life as you. You are inherently worthy, just being who you are. Practicing open and honest communication with others is a really good step. It can be very hard for people pleasers and co-dependents to do this in a way that feels safe Learning how to ground yourself, to feel present, to feel safe, so that you can openly communicate and share what you're thinking, share your beliefs and your opinions when asked caveat, asterix Only when you're asked, because no one wants to hear anyone else's opinions unless they are asked, because then it can get perceived as a judgment or criticism. I just want to clarify that. But it's important that you have the ability to have open and honest conversations, because that's what's going to foster authentic connections and help you build healthier relationships. It's also important to learn how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships, which I mentioned just before. This involves first recognizing what your needs are, asserting them and understanding that it's okay for you to set those boundaries and prioritize your well-being, learning to say no when you need to, and then also knowing that setting boundaries is not selfish but absolutely necessary for maintaining your own mental and emotional health. It also helps you create healthy relationships, because when you set a boundary, you are teaching people how they should be treating you. You are telling them what kind of behavior you're going to accept and tolerate and what you are not. And, of course, there are all different types of boundaries which we're not going to get into. The other thing is consider reaching out for support to help you break the patterns of people pleasing and codependency. I can provide you with valuable insights and strategies for breaking free from these patterns, including identifying your triggers. I can give you somatic practices. I can help you with setting boundaries, cultivating more self-compassion and rebuilding your self-worth. It's all part of my freedom unleashed method that I just submitted recently for Trademark, so I'm super excited about that. But I wanted to also share with you that the doors are now open to register for my empowered boundaries bootcamp. I have been spending a lot of time creating this bootcamp and I'm super excited because it is jam-packed with so much value and so much support at an incredible, incredible price. So for only $147, you will gain access to this incredible course that will open officially in November, meaning that content will become available about mid-November November 15th. However, you can begin to pre-register today and what you're going to learn is you're going to gain the knowledge, the skills and the confidence to establish and maintain healthy boundaries, protect your emotional well-being and, of course, create more fulfilling and respectful relationships in your life. You're going to learn how to break free from people-pleasing and codependency and how to say no without the guilt right, without the fear of rejection. So if this is something that is interesting to you, head to the link in my show notes and register for this incredible course, which I think is providing so much value, at a really reasonable price. There are five modules with approximately 15 lessons that will have you setting boundaries like a boss in no time at all. I'm also including an add-on to this empowered boundaries bootcamp where you can up-size your offer here for $100. You will learn how to safely say no with confidence and without the guilt, with my 101 support. So you will get for an additional $100, so total of $247 between the course right, the empowered boundaries bootcamp course and a 90-minute 101 intensive with me, which will be broken up into two sessions one 60-minute session and then one follow-up 30-minute session. You will get one-on-one coaching from me to help you release any limiting beliefs so you can soothe any of your emotional triggers right. So you're gonna get the somatic practices when we work together so that you don't back down on your boundaries. Because what I often find with people pleasers and co-dependence is they can feel really uncomfortable setting a boundary, and they'll do it. They'll set a boundary, they'll say no or they'll set a boundary in a relationship and the minute that they face any kind of pushback or resistance, they start second-guessing themselves and they start to wonder if maybe they should back down. Right, and sometimes they will like they will end up in relationships with people who will push back so much that they may feel like they don't have any other choice but to back down on this boundary that they've set, or they'll feel so overwhelmed with guilt, because when you start setting boundaries, people will start saying things to you like oh, you've changed, you're selfish, you're this, you're that, whatever, and that obviously is the opposite of validation and can feel very hurtful. And so what happens is they end up reverting back into these people pleasing and co-dependent behaviors in order to feel safe again in their relationships. So that is the whole point of why I'm offering this additional one-on-one intensive add-on is so that you can get the support that you need, after you're done with this course, to not back down to set the boundaries without guilt, and so this incredible offer is not going to last very long, because I'm only making room for 10 people to upgrade to this one-on-one support. So if this is something that you're interested in, I highly suggest jumping on it at the link in the bio, or feel free to reach out to me and I can send you more information. Okay enough about that. So, to wrap things up, I want you to know that breaking free from people, pleasing and co-dependency is truly a journey towards self-empowerment and healthier relationships. It may take time and effort, but the rewards of claiming your sense of self and experiencing more balanced, authentic connections are so worth it. As always, I hope that you received some value from this conversation. Please feel free to drop me a message via our website, www stepping into meaningful relationshipscom, and share your thoughts, your feedback and your questions. I would absolutely love to hear from you, and if you're enjoying the podcast or you have a topic that you would like for me to discuss on a future episode, feel free to also drop me a note or leave me a voice message on the website. I again love to hear from you Until next week. Everyone be well. If you're hearing this message, that means you've listened all the way to the end, and for that I am truly grateful. If you enjoyed this episode and found it valuable, would you mind leaving us a review? Wherever you listen to podcasts and sharing it with others? If you'd like to connect with me for one-on-one coaching or human design reading, you can find me on my website or on social media. Also, if you have a topic you'd like me to discuss on a future episode, please DM me. Be sure to tune in next week for another episode of Stepping into Meaningful Relationships.