People-pleasers regularly subvert their own needs for the needs of others. We spend years saying “yes” when we mean “no,” signing up for commitments we’d rather avoid, and occupying our minds with others’ desires.
When we finally clear out the clutter to put ourselves first, we look around at the empty space, bewildered, with endless questions. What do we want? What does true happiness look like for us? What would a life lived on our own terms be like?
For me, these questions once provoked anxiety. I’d spent a lifetime catering to my parents, friends, colleagues, and lovers—anyone but myself. By asking what I really wanted, I was looking my fear straight in the eye: my fear of being responsible for my own happiness. My fear of not getting what I wish for.
These fears are both potent and entirely surmountable—if we’re brave enough to connect with our innermost desires.
When we’re strongly connected to our dreams and desires, we begin to set boundaries with other people so we can reach them, and we slowly start finding the confidence to speak our truth. Our dreams and desires remind us how communicating authentically will change our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, for the better.
For this reason, we recovering people-pleasers need to reclaim our familiarity with our inner voice and innermost needs. We cannot communicate authentically with others if we can’t communicate authentically with our inner selves.
In my journey to overcome people pleasing, I’ve learned a few helpful tricks to connect with my innermost self and uncover what I really want in all areas of my life. Perhaps one (or more) of these methods may help you do the same.
1. Label your feelings.
As I mention in my article “How to Set Better Boundaries: 9 Tips for People-Pleasers,” many of us have become so attuned to the feelings of others that our own feelings are elusive strangers, entirely unrecognizable to us…