The importance of being entirely yourself, and how to send your people pleasing packing.
Whilst the person others can see could be excellent, it can be healthy to take off the mask
The simple answer:
If people don't like you for who you are, then the issue lies with them, not you.
But of course, it's never that simple is it?
Well no, but it absolutely should be. After all, don't we become people pleasers in order to gain attention or recognition from somebody who we want to be in the 'good books' of? Well then I will ask you "Why?". There are many reasons that people may have for changing their actions or behaviours and I would frequently argue that people pleasing is often cited as a huge reason for doing so, that they really want a certain person or group of people to give them some form of positive attention. Of course I'm not referring to situations where a certain etiquette is required, like ensuring not to drop a gigantic 'F bomb' that anyone could mistake for a fog horn during a meeting at work or during anything seemingly formal in front of your boss or indeed anyone's children. I am also not suggesting that there are times where manners shouldn't be used because "I am naturally loud or obtuse" is not an excuse for being an arse to others or make people feel generally uncomfortable. However, whether it's to impress that really 'fit' date you've been awaiting for a while, to attempt to join a certain group of colleagues at work, to sneak in a cheeky promotion, or to gain the approval of someone who may be able to act as a mentor or positive role model, almost all of us can say that we have not acted as our brains instructed us to, whether that's modifying parts of our personality or the classic 'people pleasing' by trying to do whatever you think will make someone happy irrespective of what you actually want to do or how you wish you could act.
So why should I stop?
In short, because whilst you might be able to make others happy or get them to accept or see you in a certain way, it is unhealthy to put yourself in any condition where you can't behave as your true self. The internet amongst various other forms of media often groups people together based on their personalities and tastes, and whilst it is true that similar people often get along well, it is fair to say that you can't be fully comfortable in a group or relationship of any kind if you cannot express yourself in the way that feels the most 'you', because you feel suppressed or restricted. Now instead imagine a scenario in which you are able to express the fullest extent of who you are, be it personality, sense of humour, fashion sense amongst many other qualities such as moral standings and various other opinions you may have, and you can be surrounded by people that are comfortable, happy and create a sense of ease in you because you no longer feel the need to suppress any of that. So frequently, people feel they will be shunned or turned away if they do not imitate or at least join in with some of the general consensus of those around them or those who they want to appease, but if that is the case then they were not the right people to have around in the first place. After many years of struggling to come to terms with the fact that I have quite a strong personality, a dark and often blunt sense of humour and a determination to look and be a certain way, it was only when I began to embrace it more that I realised that only when you can be more of yourself and stop trying to please everyone that you can feel happier, more comfortable, more self confident and even healthier as a result, and to boot really began to start finding people who I clicked far better with beside some of my closest friends who I had always been myself around all along.
Sometimes some personal discovery is required to realise that you need to stop people pleasing, and be more of yourself.
Start easing the pleasing
The hardest step in expressing yourself more, as well as being less of a people pleaser is accepting that you need to change in the first place. Begin to ask yourself questions like "Would this person still want to X with me if I were more myself?", and "Do I really need to do X for this person to like me?". You can also spend some time recognising how comfortable you feel around people that you constantly give to, be it emotionally or physically and question whether or not they would either do the same for you or still be around if you didn't do anything to appease them all of the time. After all, some of the most healthy people who will help you reach your full potential, and be yourself are instead those who will challenge you, those who won't always agree with you but will talk and discuss those things to see both sides, and will push you to feel you can be supported and comfortable expressing yourself without always agreeing. Most of us are in some form people pleasers or not as expressive as we could be, so it can be beneficial to spend some time exploring who we really are? Do you get exhausted doing things for people constantly or get severe social burnout when you "Just want to get along with everyone"? Well if the answer to any of these is yes, then you now know that some positive change might be in order.
The Personal Process to Personal Progress
These are the steps that I personally took to stop being so much of a people pleaser and began to be more self expressive, confident and comfortable with being myself:
Start by spending some time with yourself. By no means do I mean write a small novel, but use this time to either write down or even just mentally explore what makes you happy, what makes you laugh and how you see yourself as a personal, whether that is your general demeanour, your sense of style, your jokes, how you know you stand on being friendly and working with others. Next, you should compare how you see yourself with how you think others might see you. The key here is not to change how you see yourself to fit the perspective of others (which is what leads to people pleasing and causes this in the first place) because this is where people often go wrong, but instead begin to plan steps to make others perspectives align closer to how you see yourself personally. If being introspective and looking at yourself personally is hard, or in any way does not make you feel positive, begin by looking at things about you that you like, or alternatively speak to someone such as a therapist who can help to provide some deeper insight and set you on the right course.
Set out that plan so that you can begin to allow yourself to express yourself more based on your own self-perception. Some may choose to do this slowly, to 'test the water' whereas others may have enough confidence to begin being more open about themselves than a corpse during a post-mortem. However you do so is specific to you, because this is all about being able to be yourself. You could even enlist anyone who you feel more comfortable being you around to begin with such as friends, family or a romantic partner to help and provide moral support or encouragement.
Learn to accept that not everyone has to like you! This can be one of the hardest aspects of anybody's personal growth journey, because often people are terrified of rejection in one form of another, after all we are social creatures. However, as a 'marmite person' or so I have been described, I have myself learned that if somebody does not like you for who you are, it does not mean that you are a bad person, unworthy or always that the other person isn't nice - it may simply be a compatibility issue and that you and whoever may just not click too well (if everybody got on and clicked with one another or agreed on everything, we would not have discussions or debates that lead to the progression of society and so there is even a positive there). For anybody who does not like you for who you are, there will be those that like you and respect you so much more for allowing yourself to really be you and not be afraid to show that, it can be both liberating and rewarding in it's own right seeing people realise that you are growing.
Try new things. You are not a statue, set in stone. Experiment with things to help develop who you are and your sense of self. Try new music, new genres of book or tv or a new hobby. Maybe try out a new outfit that may seem a bit daring or unconventional or even just something you haven't worn yet and were unsure of. Even try to hang out or talk to new people, after all they may click with the real you so well that you can work on your sense of self with more support behind you than ever.
Accept criticism as a means of improvement instead of being a personal attack. Many people I have known in the past struggle with criticism and it is something that I think almost everyone has experienced in the past - the dreaded "Ummm so maybe you should stop X". Now, whilst this isn't always nice and neither is it always valid criticism, if you are being more open and honest about who you are then people are going to have more opinions on you. Instead of seeing it as something entirely negative, criticism can be an incredible learning and improvement opportunity. To someone who is open minded, it can help you to understand things that you may need to develop as a person, for example to try to be more understanding but for yourself rather than the benefit of others. It is also important to remember that it may also just teach you that if the person giving criticism is just trying to bring you down, they may just be a complete moron. One of the most valuable things in life can be somebody who criticises you not because they intend to harm you, but because they intend to help you to make your own life better, and distinguishing between that and people making comments out of spite is vital to being able to express and develop yourself.
Profit! People who can express themselves and stop people pleasing are often more confident, feel more at ease with the world and themselves, less anxious and so consider what this may be able to do for you, whether it's in job interviews, on dates, meeting new or old friends or indeed in any situations where it may be required. With a greater sense of personal freedom and less stress, it could be far less harmful on the body as well as the mind and may even lead to a healthier lifestyle and better health outcomes. After all, the people who accomplish the most are never those who are shut off and refuse to accept who they are, but instead those who become the main characters of both their own story, and the lives that they want to lead. Accepting yourself is a choice, but using it to be your self can change your life.
The bit to read if you need help with this
Of course, this can be all a bit tricky to do on your own, whether it is because of personal issues, any struggles or blockages that might get in the way or indeed other aspects of life that just keep shafting you. Should this be the case, I would entirely reccomend seeking the assistance of a therapist who can help to teach you and train you in strategies to not only put you on the right path with being yourself and accepting who you are, but other to thrive whilst doing so. Here at Piper Therapy Services, we take pride in our hypnotherapy solutions which are not only client centred, but as bespoke to you as we can possibly make it. Our treatment plans are not just read from a 'cheat sheet', but instead approached individually with you in mind to work around your life to make it comfortable, easy and enjoyable to work with us. If this sounds appealing, and you would love to be able to truly express yourself as well as continue along your journey of self-discovery, don't hesitate to contact us and our hypnotherapist Daniel Pedley today!