Done Pleasing: An Important Message for People-Pleasers and Approval Seekers

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“I was always going to let someone down, so I decided it wouldn’t be me anymore.”


Always looking to others for how you feel inside yourself.
Focusing your life around everyone else but yourself.
Believing that caring about yourself is wrong.
Not feeling worthy unless others validate you.
Feeling miserable inside when rejected by others.
Taking the blame for what others do to themselves.
Muting your inner voice in fear that it will disrupt others.
Avoiding confrontation at all costs.
Wondering if you were born with a backbone, or if you’ll ever be able to have your own life
Questioning whether having relationships is worth the feeling of being drained and pulled into
doing things you don’t want to do.
Having no idea what boundaries are or how to apply them.
Feeling lost, alone, and burned out.
Seeking approval, validation and worth from the outside.
Knowing you’ll never be enough.
Waiting for everyone else to change.
Not realizing that the power for change relies within only you.
Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, you might be feeling trapped, overwhelmed, and
unfulfilled in your relationships. And if you’re living your life to please others or seek their
approval, you’re most definitely right to feel that way.

I have a message for you, one that I hope can help you make meaningful changes in your
life. You have value, worth, and every right to your own opinions, feelings, and ideas. You’re
not here to be an emotional dumpster for other people, and your purpose in life isn’t to make
other people feel better about themselves. You aren’t responsible for anyone else’s life—only
your own or your young children’s, if you have them. I’m sorry if someone raised you to believe
that you’re only valuable if you can soothe them, if you don’t upset them, if you’re perfect, if
you only agree with them and do what they say. That’s about them and their own discomfort and
immaturity; it isn’t your fault. If you can find a way to pull yourself out of the control of others,
you’ll finally be free to be your own person. When you’re ready to do this, know that you aren’t
wrong to have your own voice; it’s okay to upset others if all you’re doing is being yourself. You
aren’t selfish for saying no, doing things you enjoy instead of doing things for others, and taking
time for yourself. If you feel drained, burned out, and overwhelmed, that’s a sign that you’re
doing too much.

I understand what you’re going through. I grew up putting others’ needs before my own.
I was taught that doing things for other people and making them feel better was the way to get
attention and approval. As long as I was a perfect angel, I could receive love. And this is really
the only thing that children want— to feel loved and know that they belong. It’s only natural for
us to do what we can to feel love and accepted. As children, it’s almost impossible to grow into
our true selves when we live in fear of other people’s reactions, especially if those people are
parents or significant people in our lives. I spent a lot of my life waiting for other people to
change. But as I got older, I came to understand that the only person I can change is myself.
Realizing this made me terrified. But I knew what was at stake if I didn’t find my own voice.
Just as you might, I had many fears:
I was scared of how others would react to me,
fearful of rejection and abandonment,
terrified of conflict,
fearful of criticism,
scared of being disliked,
horrified that if no one needed me, I wouldn’t be worthy.

Instead of looking for validation from others, it’s important to find a way to find it within
ourselves. To get rid of our fears, we have to face them, no matter how anxious that makes us
feel. Understanding that our fears aren’t based on facts or reality can help us. Our anxiety, after
all, is just a signal warning us of a threat—and any perceived threat to our purpose, value, or
sense of meaning can bring about just as much anxiety as an actual threat to our survival.
Because our people-pleasing and fears usually derive from childhood, it’s important to look back
in order to move forward. In my childhood years, it was unsafe for me to ruffle any feathers or
act in ways that might upset the people around me. As I got older, I realized that my anxiety
around speaking up, being criticized, or being reacted to negatively had no bearing on the truth
of my life. When I realized that I didn’t have to be fearful, there was no longer any real threat.
When I stopped basing my response to others on my past fears, I finally stopped hiding behind
people-pleasing behaviors. You can put your people-pleasing ways behind you. You can take
care of yourself first; because in reality, that’s the only real way you can truly live a life that

Get a copy of my new book “Anxious for Answers: The surprising truth about anxiety, and how you can master it for good!”

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Talk soon,

Dr. Ilene

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