The Physician Philosopher Podcast

TPP #22: 4 Reasons to Stop Being a People Pleaser

Have you been lying to yourself? Do you hold true to who you are? If you have ever needed external approval from other people, had trouble saying no, or worried more about what others think than about what you want, keep reading! We are discussing the 4 reasons to stop being a people pleaser. 

Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 Point Game

If you don’t know who Wilt is, he is a famous basketball player with the only game in the NBA history where somebody scored 100 points. This game wasn’t televised so if you didn’t see it in person, you could have either listened to the audio recordings or read about it. In this game Wilt scored 100 points! He was never a very good free throw shooter. In fact, he had about a 40% rate of success. That is pretty bad for something that is supposed to be really easy to do. 

In this game, he made 28 out of 32 free throws! You might be thinking he tried harder, practiced harder, or focused more on his free throws. You would be wrong. He made these free throws by throwing “granny style.” That’s right…he swung the ball between his legs and threw the ball in the air like a granny would! And it worked! He only did this type of throw for one year before reverting to the traditional overhand technique. 

When he was asked why he did this, even after the granny throw being so effective, his answer was, “I felt silly, like a sissy shooting underhanded. I know I was wrong. I know some of the best foul shooters in history shot that way. Even now. The best one in the NBA (at the time of the interview), Rick Berry, shoots underhanded, I just couldn’t do it.” He gave up the most effective way for him to shoot free throws because he was worried about what other people thought! Because he was worried about pleasing others.

I have struggled with being a people pleaser for my whole life. I was taught from a very young age that I was responsible for other people’s feelings. My entire life it has been impossible to say no to people, even if it is something that I don’t want or doesn’t benefit me at all. This has impacted my whole life. It is apparently a human thing to care what other people think. 

People Pleasing is a Problem

You may be asking why people pleasing is such a bad thing. The biggest problem is you are not being authentic to yourself and who you are. You are lying to yourself about what you want. Thinking about how important honesty and being genuine is, I realized I wasn’t willing to accept that I was being dishonest and lying just to please other people. You are doing things to make other people happy, not because you want to. You are worried about what you do and say and how that will affect other people. Let’s talk about why you should stop being a people pleaser!

Reason #1- Dishonesty

Think about being in a relationship. This could be friendship, marriage, partnership, etc… When you are interacting with the other person do you want them to constantly be doing things that they don’t really want to do, but are doing so you will be happy? As a husband, I want Kristin to do what she wants to do, not what she thinks would make me feel better. Even though I know this, I still feel it is my responsibility to make other people happy, but in turn I am lying to yourself. Reason number one to stop being a people pleaser is because you are being dishonest.

Reason #2- You’ll have an empty cup

If you try to fill up everybody else’s cup, your cup is going to run empty. You are burning the candle at both ends and cannot keep saying yes to everybody without running out. If you have an empty cup, you and your closest friends and family are going to take the brunt of that. Is it worth it? Did you know that saying no to things you don’t want isn’t actually rude? It isn’t selfish, it isn’t being mean, it is just a way to make sure your cup doesn’t run out. 

It makes sense, but when it comes to people pleasing, we don’t say no. We are afraid to do it. This is the year where we should abandon that fear. Stop being afraid to say yes to the challenging things and stop apologizing for the saying no to things that get in the way of our goals, even if this sometimes means not helping other people.

Reason #3- You can’t please other people

It is just not possible to please other people. No matter what you do or how hard you try it isn’t going to happen. Give up the idea that you are responsible for how other people feel. Things you say will constantly get misconstrued or misunderstood by the other person. It happens in my marriage all the time! 

How people interpret your words is completely up to them. Half the time people don’t care that you don’t want to do something. The other half of the time, if you give them an inch, they want a mile. The sooner you realize you cannot control how other people feel, the sooner you can move onto saying no. This is true in any situation. It is up to the other person to determine if you saying yes or no will make them happy or not. 

Reason #4- The need for external validation

When you are a people pleaser you constantly require external validation. That means that when others aren’t happy with you your people pleasing nature will eat you alive. Internal validation is the opposite of this. When you think you, as you are, is enough. You are worthy, lovable, and strong just how you are, and you don’t need anybody else in the world to tell you that. It isn’t bad to receive external validation and compliments if you aren’t relying on them for your happiness. Until you realize that somebody else praising you isn’t going to make your heart feel worthy, you will be an external validation junkie. This is very toxic and a huge problem. 

The solution is a simple concept, even if it isn’t necessarily easy to employ. We have to understand that we do not have control over other people’s feelings. We are not responsible for them, and we can’t control them even if we were. Nobody has the ability to make somebody else be happy or pleased with something we have done. We shouldn’t base our decisions on whether it will make someone else happy or not. Start being authentic to yourself and stop apologizing for saying no. It is time we stop being people pleasers! Start before you are ready, start by starting, start now!

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