Almost every woman I know struggles with what other people think of her. We want to pretend we don’t, but the bottom line is most of us do.
We want to be our authentic selves and be ‘real’. That’s a very worthy goal and I think that would feel really good. We love seeing people who are raw, real, down-to-earth, and we aspire to be like them.
But I also know that choosing authenticity is hard, especially when you live in a culture or community that tries to dictate to you how much you’re supposed to weigh, what kind of home you should live in to be considered successful, how you should dress, act, communicate, raise your children, etc.
We all want to ‘fit in’ and ‘people please’.
We say yes to shit we really don’t want to do.
We crave a compliment because without them we don’t feel good about ourselves.
We open our Facebook post secretly hoping it has a lot of likes so we can feel good about who we are.
We avoid drawing a boundary because we don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings.
We don’t state our true opinion because we are worried what the other person will think.
I have worked hard to get at the core of who I am, and while I’ve made TREMENDOUS progress, there are still parts of me that feel scared and shameful.
We sometimes choose inauthenticity over authenticity. It’s all because of shame. According to author and researcher, Brene Brown, “Shame is what drives us to hate our bodies, fear rejection, stop taking risks, or hide the experiences and parts of our lives that we fear others might judge.”
And until we confront our shame stories head on, we will continue to play the old stories in our head that constantly say “something is wrong with me.” “I am not good enough.”
We tell ourselves we aren’t “good enough” to go after the new career, to find a truly meaningful relationship, state our spiritual beliefs (even if they are contradictory), to believe in our abilities to achieve, accomplish, and thrive. And we quickly let our fear and our shame whisper in our ear, “Who do you think you are? You better keep your mouth shut. Be the good little nice people-pleasing girl even if it means you lose your soul in the process.”
We hear these messages of shame from the media, our employers, colleagues, and friends, too.
Shame forces us to put so much of our value on what other people think of us that we lose ourselves in the process of trying to meet every else’s demands, expectations, and live the life they think we should live.
So how do we step out of the people-pleasing, fitting-in tendencies that leaves us feeling small and diminished?
Here’s my five best tips:
Cultivate awareness. People-pleasing is deeply ingrained in us and is a habit. You won’t be able to stop it immediately, but you can create a little bit of space that helps you notice it.
Give yourself grace. You won’t be able to fit this right away, but instead of shaming and blaming yourself for it, try a bit of a lighter way of handling it.
Know the difference between generosity and pleasing. Doing things for others is super important, and yes it’s very important to sometimes sacrifice ourselves for others. But ask yourself, “Am I doing this because I fear the consequences if I don’t? Am I doing this because I’ll feel guilty if I don’t?” Realize you have a choice.
Understand you are not being selfish! So many women that I coach worry that they will be viewed as selfish if they start honoring their own needs first. Remember: you are not selfish for putting yourself first some of the time. In fact, it’s a very loving gesture towards yourself and important for you to model this for your children.
Pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel angry or resentful when you agree to do something you really don’t want to do? Or do you feel proud of yourself because you really wanted to do this? Did you tell a lie or make up a false story just to make someone else feel OK? People-pleasing is so deeply ingrained in us that many times we don’t even know we are doing it until we walk away feeling angry or resentful.
As Brene Brown says, “When we begin to live authentically, we recognize our worth, express vulnerability, and set boundaries.”
Are you ready to step into the journey of becoming YOU? Click here to apply for my 90 Day program. Once you’ve answered the questions, I’ll review to see if we are a good fit for each other and we can schedule a call.