Overcoming Being a Full-Time People Pleaser


I used to be a people pleaser. I always prioritized others’ feelings above my own. I strived to ensure that everyone was always happy. I desired everyone’s approval. I cycled in this mindset into my mid-twenties and then I met my husband. A midwestern, European, blunt, assertive, and independent individual (did I also mention he has a heart of gold and is always willing to help someone in need?).

In the midst of one of my “But what if they think…” moments, my husband shared some of the most refreshing thoughts with me, which to this day have changed my whole mindset and eliminated the pressure I put on myself to be a people pleaser. I’m so glad I listened to him.

He said:

  • “Your feelings matter and it’s okay for you to feel the way you do.”
  • “You shouldn’t live your life for approval from others. Live for yourself and do what makes you and those that matter happy.”
  • “Will that person be there for you at the end of the day…I mean REALLY be there? If not, be your friendly and kind self, but don’t direct so much energy to them. Instead, save it for those who do care and WILL be there.”

Other things that I learned in overcoming my past desire to be a people pleaser include:

  • Get to know more about yourself and be your own friend. Personal development is a true gift, we just have to take the time and be brave enough to learn more about ourselves.
  • “Not everyone is going to like you and that’s OKAY.”
  • “Be your true self with others and if they don’t like your true self, you’ve saved yourself future bothers and distress.”
  • Don’t waste your time trying to change peoples’ perception of you. Generally, once people have made their mind up on how they feel about you, there is little room to change it. Instead, invest this time in yourself and your personal development.

Relationships definitely require work, but this doesn’t mean they have to be hard. Healthy, positive, supportive and true relationships deserve to be nurtured. Relationships that are hard and add little value to your life, should either be reconditioned or concluded.

As I examine the relationships in my life that have flourished and remained constant over the years and others that have disintegrated, here are things that I have learned:

  • “Think of what that person brings to your life. If he/she doesn’t bring anything positive to it, the direction of your relationship should be pretty clear.”
  • “Be with people that result in positive thoughts when you’re with them and imprint positive memories after you’ve separated.”
  • Stay true to your people…the people that love and accept you for your strengths and your faults. The people who try to understand what you’re going through versus those who make judgment and accusations after just minimal time with you. The people that add joy, happiness, security, loyalty, trust, respect, and compassion to your life.
  • Find your safe place. Share personal things with those that you know you can trust and who won’t make you feel bad for the way you feel. Make sure these individuals will boost you up, not tear you down for the challenges you’re experiencing in life.
  • Invest in the people that will ultimately be there for you through the good, the bad and the ugly. Period.

It is easy to fall into a conversation that includes talking about other people—whether it is positive or negative commentary. I am guilty of this too, but in my later years, I have learned a lot about who I want to be as a person as well as who I don’t want to be.

I am human and I definitely fail from time to time in my endeavors, but I have inevitably been the someone a conversation has been about and it unquestionably it doesn’t feel good. Generally, once I stopped to think about what had been said about me, I realized the people didn’t even really know me or even try to understand why I felt and behaved the way I did. After experiencing this pain, I didn’t want to succumb to someone who made others feel that way.

Here is what I learned:

  • Don’t judge others, just don’t…you never what they’re going through or what their personal life looks like.
  • Don’t form your opinion of people by hearing stories about them from others. Form your opinion of others by actually getting to know them.
  • If you care about someone, talk to them with compassion and empathy. Try to better understand their situation, instead of judging it or telling them how they should do things differently. Your perception of the situation could be very wrong and hurtful to the other person who is already struggling enough.
  • Just because someone does it one way, and you do it a different way, doesn’t make either of you wrong or right…it just makes you different, and different is okay.
  • Sometimes life just happens, and people get upset with others. It could be from major miscommunication, means things that were said, or from inappropriate happenings; however, I think it is important to remember that we are ALL HUMANS, and we ALL make MISTAKES. If a relationship really matters to you, don’t let your pride get in the way of trying to repair that relationship. Fight for it!
  • Always take a moment to examine IF there is any truth behind what someone is saying about you. This is undoubtedly a hard thing to do but could be one of the most self-promoting things you can do for yourself. Examining your character traits could help you identify areas of self-improvement.

Life is all about living and learning. All of the above lessons are those that I have either learned the hard way or through observation. It is my desire that some of these lessons will prompt you to reflect on yourself or the relationships in your own life. We all deserve to be happy and have healthy relationships with ourselves and others. Relish the greatness in life mamas!

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Melissa recently resigned from her career in higher education and was promoted to her new title as Dr. Mom to two-under-two. Her quest to have a family involved a long road of infertility struggles. She has a son named Rowan who is 21 months old and a girl named Ildi who is 6 months old. There is never a dull moment in the Butcher house with two-under-two. Their days are fast, dirty, silly and tiring, yet also imaginative, magical and memorable. Melissa is passionate about conquering every great moment as well as the challenging moments, with love. She truly embraces the Beatle’s philosophy of “All You Need is Love” especially in moments when she finds herself gritting her teeth and taking deep breaths during the blissful chaos occurring in her home. She enjoys reading, baking, decorating cakes, walking, biking, spending time with her family and friends, and cheering on the Clemson Tigers. She also enjoys writing for infertility and adoption focused organizations, striving to serve and support families pursuing assisted reproductive technologies and adoption to achieve their dreams in becoming parents. In writing for Charleston Moms Blog, Melissa hopes to bring Moms together in enjoying and laughing about the special and comical moments of being a mom as well as providing the comfort and support that all Moms need on this journey we adoringly call Motherhood.