Ep 07: Unconditional Love Vs. People-Pleasing

What is the difference between people-pleasing and unconditional love? People-pleasing is a way of trying to manipulate other people’s emotions.

We all people-please. We think it’s our job to give so that others will feel good. But no matter how much we try to be all things to all people … we can never actually control other people’s feelings. And it’s not our job to even try!

If you want to give to others from authentic kindness and not just people-pleasing, you need to start including yourself in that kindness.

Listen to this week’s episode and learn 3 questions to stop people-pleasing in it’s tracks! Learn simple shifts to ensure that your kindness includes yourself in your decisions.

If you want help implementing the tools I teach, I would be honored to be your life coach. Working with a coach helps you to create change quicker, easier, and with more fun along the way! Are you ready to create a more Joyful Love in your own Life and Marriage? Then  click here to find out more.

What You’ll Learn From This Episode

  • How people-pleasing is basically lying
  • Why you should include yourself first in your decisions.
  • How it’s not your job to protect other people’s feelings.
  • Why people-pleasing causes resentment and ultimately a disconnected marriage.
  • Three questions and one shift to stop people-pleasing and choose authentic kindness instead.

Mentioned On The Show:

If you’d like to ask questions or tell me what you think, send an email to podcast@rachaelcunningham.com

Go here to watch a free class and receive my weekly newsletters. https://www.rachaelcunningham.com/

Podcast Transcript:

Hi! This is Rachael Cunningham and you are listening to Joyful Love, Episode 7

So far in this Podcast I’ve talked a lot about love. Because  it’s a podcast on marriage and we’re gonna talk a whole lot about love!!

But today we’re gonna discuss something that love is not. We often get confused about what love is because religion or culture, our parents and our need to just be accepted by others, gets in the way.

We think love means giving.

We think that love means sacrificing ourselves. We believe that in order to love someone else, we have to choose not to love ourselves.

And we think it’s our job, as a truly loving person to do what we can to make others around us happy – as if their emotions were somehow in our control.

And although love does include authentic if we’re not including ourselves in the equation of love, we’re actually People – Pleasing. We’re not truly loving unconditionally.

When we people please, we’re trying to control someone else’s emotions. We might be trying to get them to like us more. We might be trying to protect them from feeling bad.

Or We might even say yes to someone enthusiastically to make them think that we’re not being put out, right?

So we say “Yeah, no worries I got this!  It’s totally fine! No problem at all!”

And then after you say yes, almost out of habit, you realize well shoot, I don’t really have time for that. Or you might ask yourself, “Why did I say yes to that when I don’t really want to?”

So what’s happening beneath the surface when we people-please? We are basically lying to them. We don’t pause to think about what we really want and dishonesty happens because if we were truly honest about what we wanted, people might not like us. Orwe might feel guilty for not saying yes.

So, let me be clear that I don’t believe giving to others and being kind to others is a problem. Authentic kindness makes the world more expansive and beautiful and I’m all for that!

But when we’re giving to others so that they don’t have to have negative feelings, that’s actually a form of manipulation and it is definitely a  problem.

When I grew up I was so afraid of rocking the boat that I just decided to stop having opinions at some point.

I remember anytime my friends would say, “Where should we eat? I’d respond, “I don’t care, you choose.”

And when a friend would ask me to drive them places, my answer was always, “yes” even if I didn’t want to.  Even if it was inconvenient for me.

And would I ever ask for gas money? No – absolutely not.

I would rather put myself out than make anyone else feel uncomfortable ever!

I was a people-pleaser to the max!  I was queen of people pleasers!

A big part of this was learned in me as a child growing up in an unstable home with an abusive father.  I knew my mom already had a difficult life and I didn’t want to make it any more difficult for her.

I also learned pretty quickly that my opinion didn’t matter. Arguing my point or having an opinion was seen as rebellion.  So I learned to keep my mouth shut and keep my opinions to myself.

I remember one time I was about 15 years old and I was wearing a U2 shirt – you know … the band, U2!

My dad told me that this band was probably satan worshipers and not to wear that shirt again.

I wanted to argue that U2 was definitely not satan worshipers, but I knew that would only lead to him getting mad and thinking I was disrespecting him… so I just replied with somthing like , “Alright dad, I won’t wear it anymore.”

So I learned to be a good girl on the outside and hold all my true feelings in. I learned to work hard and try not to rock the boat.  And that bled into every aspect of my life. I thought it was my job to protect everyone else’s feelings.. I thought that’s what love was.

Now you don’t have to grow up in an abusive home to be a people pleaser.

Most of us are taught from an early age that loving means giving. We’re taught that it’s our job to keep everyone happy around us! We’re praised for being peace-keepers and reprimanded if our opinions and desires aren’t easy for others to take.

And we’re definitely not taught that you can have total and complete love for someone and still. Say. no.

So how do you know if you’re people-pleasing too much?

A sure sign is if you’re overwhelmed with keeping up with everyone else’s projects, desires, and feelings – but you’re too busy to honor and respect your own projects, desires, and feelings.

If you’re saying yes to all the community events when you’re already overwhelmed, you’re people pleasing.

If you’re telling your kid that yes, I’ll take you to ALL the events so that you’ll be happy and I won’t have to see you be sad or angry … you’re people pleasing.

If you’re not asking for your partner’s help with dishes because they had a hard day at work … but wait, so did you, but you still feel bad asking for help, you are definitely people-pleasing.

Where else can people pleasing show up?

How about with alone time?  Are you not scheduling regular alone time for yourself because you think it’ll be harder on your partner or your kids if you leave for the night?

Do you want an entire weekend away and you’re thinking … there’s no way! My partner couldn’t handle the kids without me.

My friend, you are people-pleasing. You are so worried about their hard time, that you’re not giving yourself (or them) a chance to figure it out.

Or are you neglecting your own creativity because you’re placing more importance on your kids or your partners creative endeavors than your own.

If any of these resonate with you, you’re people pleasing.

You’re not being honest with your family about your true desires and opinions.

And if you’ve been doing this for a while, which most of us have, you might be so used to it that you don’t even know what you want any more. You’re not even in touch with your own desires.

You just know that you’re exhausted and baffled at how this family life and marriage have derailed you from even thinking for yourself anymore.

Alright, So I have a confession. I need to come clean here.

It took me weeks to muster up the courage to record this podcast. Why? Because this is my top, #1 struggle in my own personal life.

Right now I want to say yes to my 15 year old non-stop!

I want to take all my husband’s stress away and not add anything else to his plate.

I want to give and give and give and never stop if it will make my people happy.
And it doesn’t stop with my family.

These are all ways in which we overly concern ourselves with other people’s happiness. Our ego thinks we somehow have the power to control other people’s feelings.

But here’s the absolute truth – All of this giving and sacrificing and worrying will never make others happy. We can NEVER sacrifice our own opinions, desires, and lives enough to increase anyone else’s joy.

It will never be enough to fill them with all the happiness we want them to have.

And this is where I get to remind myself, and you get to remind yourself that their joy and happiness is their responsibility.

You are not responsible for anyone else’s joy in this life. This includes your life partners!  and Mamas, that includes your kids too.

It is not your JOB to make them happy.

And you trying to control their feelings many times, actually hinders them from taking responsibility for their own feelings.

I have to remind myself of this daily.

But here’s where the fun comes in…

Because when you realize that the ONLY person you are in charge of is you, you free yourself to stop the struggle.

You free yourself to stop lying. And people-pleasing.

When we drop the idea that we have to say yes to our  family, now we can get out of the trap!  

You know that feeling of exhaustion because you’re just trying to juggle all the people’s emotions and you’re constantly saying no to yourself, and you’re always behind because the more you give, the more they want?  it feels like you’re going through life with one foot in a bear trap, right?

You’re trying to do the dishes with a trap on your foot because you really want to ask your partner to help you.

You’re driving your kid to all the places with a trap on your foot because you’re spreading yourself too thin.

You’re saying yes to friends to hang out when you really want a bubble bath.

You’re saying no to friends because you think you don’t deserve a night out.

You’re dragging that bear trap around all day because if you took it off – someone else might not be too happy with you.  And if they’re not happy, how could you possibly be happy?

It’s time to take the bear trap off and stop feeling guilty about it. Stop saying yes when you don’t want to say yes.

Stop avoiding asking for help because you think they’ll be upset or put out. Stop answering the phone if you don’t want to talk!

Sit down on the couch and put your feet up and make that phone call if you do want to talk!!

But here’s where we get stuck isn’t it? We’re afraid if we listen to what we want, we’ll be selfish and a horrible partner and mother. We’re afraid if we don’t answer that phone , we’ll be a bad friend.  

If you take that bear trap off … if you tell yourself that your opinions and desires matter too. You know what you’re really gonna do?  You’re gonna tap into that part of you that loves yourself so much that you start showing up for you.

You’re gonna have more energy and feel more supported.
And when you combine self love and self-compassion with energy and supporting yourself in the ways you need to, you’re gonna actually WANT to say yes to your people.

Not because you think it’s your JOB to make them happy or protect their feelings, but because you know what authentic kindness to yourself looks like. And with that knowing, your genuine love will lead to authentic kindness. .

Simply because you love them. And you actually want to, not because you think you’re supposed to.

But to understand what and when you actually want to give, you need to back up a bit and bring awareness to when you’re lying in order to make them happy.

When you bring awareness to it, you’ll start to say “ no “ more and you’ll start to ask for help more.

You’ll also start to say yes to yourself more – for that extra long alone time!

You might even say yes to yourself to start that creative project JUST because you want to!

And you know what? When you fill yourself with what your spirit and soul needs and when you create just a bit more time for yourself by asking for help, you’re also gonna realize that you want to say yes to your people!

And you’ll make saying yes easier. Because it will come from authentic kindness.

I wanna give you an example of what this looks like in my own life. So summer time is apparently a time of driving a 15 year old around a lot! My son just told me about 4 different things he wanted to go to this week. My response before would have been, okay, we’ll make it happen…. While grumbling internally about all that my husband and I have to do.

Or my feelings might end up coming out by snapping something passive aggressive towards him.

Then I’d feel kind a shitty and I’d try to make up for the hurt feelings by doing what … more people pleasing!

It’s a vicious cycle if we aren’t careful.

So what do I really want? I actually do want my kiddo to hang out with friends. I don’t want him stuck in his room all day every day.

And I want to save myself some time. I don’t want my summers to be jam packed with things to do and places to go!

So How can I get both of these things that I want? It’s pretty easy, if I remind myself that I don’t have to do it all!

If I want to give to him, I can also ask for something from him to help me out.

So today I told him, “That’s an awful lot of driving for me! How can you save me some extra time this week so I can make up for it?”  Then we talked about some extra chores he could do to help me. And I told him they needed to be done before we leave for these things.

It’s a win win. I didn’t just say YES!

I was honest and let him know that it was gonna take some of my planned time, so I needed some of that time back.

How about with my lovely husband? Most of us have partners that work really hard.  And they need  time for down time too.

I’m a fan of respecting that need. I’m a fan of letting our partners choose how they want downtime and not making them feel guilty for taking it.

But I’m not a fan of respecting that need for your partner yet ignoring that need for yourself.

So how do you combine the two? You start with communication. You say, “babe … I want help.”

I want help with dishes. I want help with carpool. I want help with dinner.

Yes, many times there are nuances to creating teamwork and giving you both what you want.

But you have to start with actually being honest. Ask for what you want.

Tell the truth if you don’t want to do something. Say no if you’re too tired. Say yes to yourself a bit more.

Next time you say yes, ask yourself if you feel trapped? If so? Take the bear trap off. You don’t have to do anything!  Now, what do you want to do?

One more thing, people – pleasing creates resentment.  We start resenting our partners and resenting other people because we feel the pressure to keep giving.  And that resentment turns to blame and criticism.  People – pleasing ultimately leads to disconnection.

Drop the blame and criticism and take your power back. You’re allowed to say no anytime you want without bitterness and resentment. You’re allowed to say no from a place of peace.

Say no for you, not as a way to “teach them a lesson”  That’s still manipulation right?  

Stop expecting everyone else to treat you better than you treat yourself. Some of us have been people pleasing for so long that we don’t even know what authentic kindness looks like.

So let’s just look at the clear differences here:

If you’re people pleasing, you’re looking for validation, you’re trying to control someone else’s emotions, and you feel guilty for setting boundaries. You often feel taken advantage of or resentful.

Now, on the opposite side let’s look at True, Authentic Kindness.

When you are making decisions from authentic kindness, You honor your own needs while also being receptive to other people’s needs. The two can co-exist without pressure or resentment.  The boundaries you set are thought out and considerate – not rushed out of anger.

And with authentic kindness, you’ll understand how to honor your own limits, so you feel more  appreciated and open in your relationships.

So ask yourself these
 questions to become more conscious to people-pleasing.

1. Am I doing this because I genuinely want to, or because I think I’m supposed to?

2 If I say no, what am I making that mean about me?

3. Am I saying yes to something to protect someone elses feelings?

And then open your mind to a new possibility and ask this:
How can I be okay with them having feelings of irritation.
Remind yourself that the only feelings you are in charge of are your own.

You can unconditionally love someone and have true kindness for them.

But for it to be authentic, it always has to include your desires and needs in the equation too.

These are the things I help my clients with every week. You know it’s one thing to hear this stuff, and it’s another to put it into practice and make healthy habits with your unique circumstances and different personalities.

If your heart is screaming – Yes! To this message and you’re ready to get help doing the work, reach out to me and book a free consultation. If you go to rachaelcunningham.com/workwithme you’ll find everything you need to know to book a session with me.

Ok, I wanna  hear from you.  So send me an email at podcast@rachaelcunningham.com – Tell me what questions and topics you’d like to cover! I’ll email you back… and I’ll put it in podcast soon!

Also … it’s super helpful for people who are looking for relationship podcasts to see other peoples reviews on itunes.

So if you want others to know about this podcast, head over to itunes, give Joyful Love a rating and write a review!

Enjoy the Show?