Attack of the people-pleasers: Why I feel sick writing this post...

This morning we ended up going into a cafe that has had several owners over the last year or so. The hub and I have often talked about this cafe and lamented for the people that buy it and try to make it work. 

No one wants to see a small business fail.

So we went in with stories, in particular, I went in feeling really sorry for the owners and at some level wanted to make it all better.

I saw a guy and woman working there (the owners, I decided) and thought that they looked tired and sad (about the business going so badly).

I ordered drinks for the three of us. They had an option we didn't really want but we said that was great!

Couldn't make them feel worse, could we.

After a while I went up and asked about what was in the counter. We were the only real customers there and the self-imposed guilt was building. The woman working there told me about two dishes, both of which were full of things that make me ill. 

So guess what I did...

Ordered both. That's right. Both. 

The guilt demon had totally possessed me. I was so guilty about the stories I was telling myself about their business failings and them being sad that I would have just about handed over my house to them.

I know better than this, much better, but this morning, I went into another zone, living out old patterns of being a people-pleaser extraordaire.

Needs, I have no needs. What I want is irrelevant, how I feel is irrelevant. What can I do for YOU? I'll make it better!

I know I can't save their business and that their business might not even need saving.

I know it's not my job to make them feel good. 

I know I can choose food and drinks that don't make me sick or even that I don't feel like for some reason and that's perfectly fine. That self-care is the cornerstone of everything.

But this morning, suddenly I believed I had no choices. Their mood and success felt like my responsibility.

So what happened next?

Well then I ate the freakin' food that would make me feel sick. 

It wasn't great, but I said it was!!! OMG!!!!

Sound familiar to anyone?

Putting other's presumed happiness before your own.

Saying yes when you want to say no. 

'Massaging the truth' aka lying.

Not looking after your own wellbeing because it might interfere with someone else's desires (often desires you haven't even confirmed with them). 

Oy. People pleasing is a recipe for pain and relationships built on sand. It's a recipe for resentment and regret.

So as I type this, feeling nauseous from my large meal of guilt, I have these points to share. Points that form a foundation of thoughts to support an awesome life.

  1. Stay in your own business. Get out of other people's heads, don't decide what they think, want or need. Don't make up stories about their thoughts. You don't know. 
  2. Remember that you can ALWAYS respectfully and assertively say what you want and need. Others don't have to agree, but you don't have to stay silent, or go along with what you don't want. This takes practice but is actually not scary when you get used to it. People cope just fine. It's generally no drama at all!
  3. You're not helping anyone by being a people-pleaser. The coffee guy doesn't know what his customers really want and the quality of his coffee, your friend gets a half-baked version of you when you are with her but actually don't want to be there, your girlfriend doesn't know what really want to do today. 

People-pleasing is a lose-lose situation based on fear and deceit. Even with noble intentions of protecting others, we ultimately risk hurting them and ourselves.

Sooo... listen to the stories you are telling yourself about others needs and wants, stay in your own business, own your needs and wants (respectfully), tell, compromise and enjoy. Importantly, be present in your own body, be conscious of your thoughts and feelings.

Your relationships will be stronger and everyone will end up a LOT happier. You also wont end up feeling sick and being out of pocket for something you didn't want to eat - like I am now! ;)

With love,
Lara xx

P.S. My special offer is still running for another week $99 for two 1:1 coaching sessions. These sessions normally cost $180, so you get lots of bang for your buck and can kick start a whole new phase of a freer, more wonderful life. Email me at with your name and number to set up a time for us to chat.

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Hi, I'm Dr Lara Corr, life coach and researcher in work and wellbeing. I coach successful 30 and 40 somethings who want more fulfilling or bigger careers but doubt themselves and their options. I help them get out of their own way, find direction and go for what they really want.

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