People pleasing can be a defeating habit in a person’s life, simply because the act itself takes your focus off what you CAN control, and puts your focus on to what you CAN’T control, which is somebody else’s happiness and peace of mind. Here is a perfect example to illustrate my point:
If you buy your lover flowers, and they come home to tell you they just received a raise at work – the flowers you give them are just going to add to their joy, and you are going to have a wonderful evening.
However, if you buy your lover flowers, and they come home to tell you they just got fired from work – they may look at the flowers and give a quick smile just to acknowledge you and quickly go back to sulking – or worse, they may be hateful and yell, “WHAT GOOD ARE FLOWERS GOING TO DO ME NOW?!?!? ARE THEY HIRING FLORISTS?!?!”
Of course, this is common sense – but it is a perfect example of why people pleasing doesn’t work 100% of the time. You will never be able to predict what kind of mood anyone is going to be in all the time, simply because things will always happen outside of our control. Consequently, your happiness or misery is in the other person’s hands, which puts you into a very vulnerable position.
I have developed what I call, “The People Pleasing Quadrant” to broaden readers awareness of what people-pleasing is, and what to do once those people-pleasing tendencies rear their ugly heads. Quadrant means “four” which means there are four different situations you will find yourself in that you will need to develop strategies to combat your people-pleasing tendencies. The four situations are as follows:
Quadrant # 1: Dealing with the people you like or love when those people ALSO like or love you in return:
This first quadrant is the easiest to manage, because at least you genuinely like or love the person you are dealing with, and they like or love you as well. However, remember the example we used above about the lover losing their job and the flowers? No matter how much you like or love someone, or how much they like or love you, bad things happen sometimes. We all say things we don’t mean. The trick is to not take the people you care about personally, and feel responsible for “fixing” them. Let the person you like and love be hurt, angry, mad, and upset. It doesn’t have to affect your core happiness, although you can sympathize with the person and let them know you will be there for them, if they want to talk. Besides, this person cares about you – and they don’t want to drag you down, just because they are having a bad day. Give them a little space, and let things sort themselves out. Spend your energy focusing on more productive ventures, such as going for a jog to get in shape, studying for an important test, or reading a book that is of interest to you. People-pleasing is really annoying to people who like or love you already. They don’t expect you to make everything better, they just need some time to get over it.
Quadrant # 2: Dealing with the people you like or love when those people DON’T like or love you in return:
The second quadrant is oftentimes the most painful quadrant to come to terms with, regardless if it is about a “friend,” family member, or lover. Once in a great while, we can like or even love someone who doesn’t like or love us in return. We do everything in our power to be “good” enough, “supportive” enough, “encouraging” enough, “kind” enough, whatever enough! But somehow, it is never enough, and it never will be.
Once in awhile, these people we like or love are nice to us out of pity, guilt, regret or remorse – or because we are fulfilling some kind of need for them that they don’t want to give up. Don’t mistake their temporary kindness as genuine concern! Because honestly, these people don’t like or love us at all. It could be for a variety of reasons, but those reasons don’t have anything to do with you. The trick for getting over people-pleasing in this quadrant is to realize what quadrant these people belong in, and come to terms with the fact that they don’t like or love you. On the other hand, realize that there are millions of other people out here who would absolutely adore you. Realize that you are wasting your valuable and precious time with people pleasing, especially in this quadrant, because no matter what you do, it won’t matter. Just move on to someone who will like, love and appreciate the beautiful person you are.
Quadrant # 3: Dealing with the people you DON’T like or love when those people DO like or love you.
Most of the people-pleasing in this quadrant comes out of guilt, pity or personal gain. Although I must admit, it is really hard not to like someone who likes you, but you may be able to definitely see that the other person likes or loves you WAY more than you like
or love them.
I believe my grandmother taught me a very gracious lesson about how to handle situations in quadrant three. One day, a boy who just moved into my neighborhood decided to ask me out on a date. He really had a crush on me, and I could tell. However, I didn’t feel the same way about him. But I did enjoy all of the flowers, candy and attention he gave me.
At the time, I didn’t see anything wrong with taking whatever he was willing to give. But my grandmother pulled me aside and told me why it wasn’t nice to encourage gestures and lead a person on, especially when I knew his intentions. Of course, I liked him as a person because he was so sweet. But the truth of the matter is, he was wasting his time courting me when I wasn’t interested. Although I could have continued to use him, I went with granny’s advice and politely told him that I could no longer accept gifts because I was not interested in dating anyone at that time. However, we decided to be friends and did fun things together on occasion. He found a new girlfriend who truly adored him to pieces, and fell in love with her. The last I heard, they were planning to get married. The moral of the story is, he was a sweetheart, and deserved to find someone who liked and loved him. It would be selfish of me to stand in the way of that.
Quadrant # 4: Dealing with the people you DON’T like when they DON’T like you either!
A person will rarely find themselves in this quadrant when it comes to their personal life, unless it has to do with Ex-Lovers
or step families. Otherwise, you can just get up and walk away, which is why quadrant four is reserved mostly for the work place and figures of authority!
People-pleasing in this quadrant reflects suppressed feelings, and putting up with a lot of emotional, mental and verbal abuse. It can be because you are afraid of losing your job or
because you are afraid of the person themselves. In situations like this, it is always best to get a third party involved, because for one reason or another – you are forced to deal with this person, and they are forced to deal with you. Neither one of you are going to be able to compromise about a reasonable solution on your own, because both of you don’t care what is in the other’s best interest! There needs to be a mediator who can look at the situation objectively on neutral ground, and come up with a reasonable solution. Don’t be afraid to be the bigger person and ask for outside help. It is the only way the conflict will be resolved. In matters dealing with the family, it may be best to go to counseling, join a support group, or bring a person from the outside into the situation. Remember, your goal is to conserve energy, and focus on how you can change things, and make them head in a positive direction. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. If everyone else wants to wallow in their misery and problems, you can let them do just that. But you can choose something different.
In closing, when you eliminate people pleasing in your life for good – it is always great to have the awareness that you only have a one in four shot of really hitting it off with somebody special! (In case you were wondering, that one shot lies within people who are in Quadrant number one!) If you go into each situation expecting the best, but prepared for the worse – you will always come out on top. But most importantly, be yourself! There is no point going through life pretending to think and feel a certain way just to please other people. Besides that, you won’t have the opportunity to attract the people in your life who would really like or love the person you truly are!
Another tidbit I’d like to share out of granny’s little treasure chest of knowledge, wisdom and experience. She always use to say, “Rhiannon, there are three types of people in this world. There are givers and there are takers. But once in a great while, you will be fortunate enough to find a person who is capable of doing both.”
I hope this article will encourage you to be a person who can do both.