People pleasing: why it's got to stay in 2020 for me

I can distinctly remember a young-eyed and bushy-tailed teenager me coining this phrase as one of my ‘strengths’ in interviews:

“And I’m suchhhh a people pleaser. I’ll do anythinggggg to get the job done.”

She wasn’t lying too. I would literally sacrifice nights of sleep and my lunch hour so long as I could get the work over to Dave on the 3rd floor 2 hours before the deadline.

Oh yes, because hitting the deadline isn’t enough, you’ve got to over exceed on that and meet it even earlier! How else do people get promoted in life?


Those people don’t get promoted, they get defeated.

Here me out! I’m not saying you shouldn’t work as hard as you can, but I am saying you should set boundaries and put yourself over pretty much everything in life (unless it’s a newborn baby or something like that).

I thought that the energy I was bringing to interviews was being interpreted as keen and helpful but it was probably sending more signals of the fact I am underexperienced, holding my value pretty low, and errr desperate for a job.

When it comes to jobs and positions, you’re less likely to be undervalued because of the little experience you have, and more likely to be undervalued because you have put that badge on yourself by saying your time isn’t all that precious.

I always think of it like that now. If you’re paid to work 6 hours a day, why on earth would you work past the clock or not take any of your rewards and benefits? (P.S FRIKKIN LUNCH ISN’T A REWARD, IT’S YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS TO EAT).

By saying to somebody that you will do everything that is required of them and more, you are kinda moreorless saying that you put their needs above yours. You’re also sending the message that your time doesn’t deserve to be respected because you’re not giving yourself any of it. And that isn’t big or heroic or respectable, it’s kinda sad and goes unrewarded.

I don’t think I’ve ever known a situation where this works. The situations where the overtired and overworked intern finally gets paid for their labour don’t stem from them walking in with an even bigger grin and ‘happy to serve’ attitude on a fresh Monday, it is usually catalysed from them going away, reading up on their rights and going “chapter 1, line 52: you give me what I’m entitled to or I’ll walk.” Ooooo wouldn’t I love to be involved in one of those high-stakes movie moments!

I’m not saying that hard work goes unnoticed, because I'd be 100% lying if I said that. It definitely gets noticed.

But daaaarling, these moments are rare! Sometimes you have to literally be your own manager and put yourself in the positions that are going to develop you. Not wait for the person who is meant to be in that position to do it for you because you can’t control anybody’s actions other than your own.

Imagine if you were an agent for a celebrity, would you book them the gigs that aren’t going to help with their brand? No. In the same way you shouldn’t agree to all of the stuff that isn’t going to help you get where you want to go.

You should agree to some of it because that is how life works and it’s teaching you important lessons like character building and discipline, yes, but you should also learn the more valuable life lesson of saying no to things and prioritising your mental health. Because that too is character building and discipline.

It’s also that thing of you setting the tone for how you want to be perceived.

There have been times where I have walked into an art gallery and I haven’t heard of any of the artists, yet one piece of art is going for £15 and the other is going for £50,000. I instantly and subjectively form the opinion that the £15 one is better than the £50,000. “That’s strange though because it has the lower pricetag, hmmm”.

Despite believing that the £50,000 didn’t take a fraction of the time or resource to make, I can respect that the artist has earnt that pricetag. Probably to do with the name, right? But how did they get that name? Probably from setting their own pricetag and not waiting for others to do it for them.

You become the energy you put out at the end of the day. So please go home and recharge and refuel your gorgeous body with all the energy and love it deserves! You can’t wait for anybody to do that for you. You’ll wake up a whole new person if you take this time for yourself for once - somebody who knows their worth and isn’t afraid to make it known to others. And that my friend, is where we begin to feel the rewards in life.

Every time I people please, it’s really surprising the emotion that comes out of it for me.

I broke it down to the smallest cell recently as it was really getting me down. But WHY do I do this? Because I want people to love me, in a nutshell.

The hilarious thing though? Every time I say yes to something I don't want to do or agree with something I don't believe in for the sake of somebody else’s equilibrium, I feel mine shock into instant imbalance. By treading so carefully to keep the scales balanced between us, I have never felt more out of tune with who I am as a person.

To put it even more dramatically, everytime I people please, I feel like I am sacrificing a part of myself. “Here, take a limb. You over there, you can have my nose. Oh, would you look at that, you’ve got my mind and my heart and my soul now!”. But that’s ok isn’t it, as long as the other person is pleased. *smiling emoji with a single tear*.

There is nothing wrong with pleasing people, but you have to do this with the right intentions.

You have to please because you want the other person to benefit from your actions, not because you deep down want to benefit from your own actions.

Read that again so it really sinks in.

Sorry to go all Freud psychology on you, but it always stems down to wanting to be loved or validated. But hunnyyyyy, you know as much as I do that that comes from you and nobody else on the planet!

Take it from somebody who has people pleased her whole life, I don’t feel all that pleased about it. Ha, the irony.

My friend pulled me aside once and said “just try doing what YOU want for once. Set your boundaries, own them, rock them, don’t compromise on them. You’ll feel amazing after.” and I totally trusted her and believed in everything she was saying.

And yet...I didn’t feel all that great initially. This was because I’m conditioned to feel like I’m letting people down unless I give them my everything. But that’s fine because it’s a work in progress and I’m going to break the pattern.

I know that I have to keep with it despite the uncomfortable feelings it brings me in the moment. You know why?

Because I know that it’s more uncomfortable to live a false life that you have led yourself to because you were too scared to stand up for yourself.

I know we were talking about trivial work admin at the beginning (gotta love those pesky Excel spreadsheets), but this can also be really serious and pivotal life stuff.

It’s so important that you learn to hold yourself in as much concern as you do other people.

Because if you work yourself to death or end up selling your soul to the devil because it was for somebody else’s happiness, you’ll end up a lifeless body going through the motions.

And surprise! Nobody benefits from that. Not them or you.

Live for yourself, do what you want, be who you want to be, and practice KINDNESS. That’s a totally different thing to people pleasing.

You can be a caring, empathetic, selfless AND generous person and still say no to something that doesn’t sit right with you. I absolutely promise you that.

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