It’s subtle, people pleasing. The lies women are telling are often so close to the truth, so subtle that they go unseen, but they never go un-felt. Women are telling and believing lies and it is keeping us disconnected from ourselves and others. These subtle lies look like filters, a distorted version of what truly is. Close enough to the real thing that we don’t even notice it anymore. We can’t often see it or spot it, but we are feeling it. It feels like faking it all the time. It feels like being exhausted and tired of managing and pleasing everyone else. These small moments of lying and pleasing are keeping us chasing an impossible exhausting perfect that none of us can attain. When you are people pleasing, you are building a wall between you and true belonging.
True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.Breńe Brown
There are two main reasons that women tend to people please. The first is that they have learned to shape shift and filter themselves in order to be loved and accepted. Whether though trama, their family, their peers, or romantic relationships- they learned that it wasn’t safe to be messy, or honest, or truly say or do what came naturally. They learned to become something different or at least act like it. We’ve developed subtle lies and filters that in the moment kept us safe, but in the long run, leave us exhausted and lonely.
Women have learned to shift and create a version of themselves that isn’t real. Close enough to the real thing that even when you don’t see it, you feel it.
It was a protection that served us well in the moments. The problem is that we have forgotten what we truly are. We no longer recognize who we are or what we want. We build an entire life around who we thought we should be instead of who we truly are and what we want. This keeps us stuck, broken, and lonely. Disconnected from ourselves. Disconnected from the people who WANT to know, love, and see the real us. Even when people accept us and love us, they are only loving the image of us, not the true version of ourselves. This leaves women surrounded and still lonely. This leaves us fighting for the version of perfect we think we should be, not the perfect we already are.
The second main reason women often learn to people please is because they fear the real version of themselves. They know all their flaws and short coming and mess, and they are hiding from it. They aren’t necessarily terrified of someone else judging them. No, they are their own worst critic and they know that others will see this side of them and reflect or verbalize the darkest fears and they will be crushed by the weight of it.
People pleasing often works in the moment, but long term it creates disconnection.
It often (on the surface) looks like a kindness, a subtle shift. Sometimes it feels easier to just say or speak or exist in a way that doesn’t offend or ruffle other people’s feathers. It seems easier at the moment to lie or filter in order to protect yourself from the judgment or outburst or discomfort of being or saying what is true. People pleasing is manipulation. This statement gives me pause. I always thought people pleasing kept me safe, kept them safe. What it did do is keep me belonging in communities where I felt and sensed my true self may not be accepted. It kept my relationships peaceful and “good” while under the surface they were cracking and coming apart.
Filters and lies can only sustain us so long. Until life shakes us and breaks us and suddenly all that we hid underneath our smiles and subtle responses come bubbling up on the surface and feels like a complete undoing. Instead, what if we lived with honesty and vulnerability? What if we were willing to be messy and wrong and disappoint other people instead of ourselves?
Before you can change or heal from people pleasing, you must first become aware of it.
We must start looking at all the subtle and toxic ways we are creating a standard we can no longer maintain. Acting is exhausting. Sisters, I want to invite you to start existing. I want you to stop lying first to yourself and then to others. You must start noticing when your stomach clenches after you end a conversation. You must start feeling the aching and start being truly seen and loved for who you actually are, not who you have pretended to be.
It’s terrifying. I won’t lie to you and tell you it will be easy. Because sometimes, you will tell the truth and someone will not be ready to hear you. Sometimes you will show up without your filter and others will be terrified of what they are hiding behind. But mostly, you will finally find your peace again. You will begin to walk away from rooms that cannot hold you and you will find tables that have save you a seat. Finally, you will remember who you are as you honor your voice and your identity.
You will finally fully belong to yourself.
And you will finally feel free. You will not have to pretend or act anymore. Finally you will get to be present and loved and embraced FULLY, first by yourself and then others. You will be free and in your freedom you will set others free. See, when I stopped lying to myself and others, it invited others to do the same. When I started living fully in my strengths and struggles, it invited the people in my life to actually get to love and support me in the ways I needed and craved. I have nothing to hide anymore. Now, I don’t have the pressure of pretending or reaching for perfection. I just get to be me. You can have that too.
Other people’s opinions…they don’t matter. Let me make this clear, I care how I affect people. I care about my impact. Deeply. But that care now comes from honesty and love, not the manipulation of wanting to be liked. It is not your job to like me, it’s my own. And, now, when I am wrong, when I do offend, I can heal myself to be better instead of just faking it. I no longer live to perform and try to convince others. I live to impact and create with honesty and integrity. Making space for all of me means I can fully make space for others.
You heal from people pleasing by beginning to tell the whole truth, first to yourself and then to others. You stop chasing impossible standards and start living in YOUR full capacity. Comparison will steal your joy and confidence. You do not need to act, think or talk like her or even a different version of yourself. You need to be YOU. Then, and only then, will you be able to feel and accept celebration and connection because you can feel deep down that it is genuine. Listen to the aching. You won’t always get this right. Practice saying no. Practice disagreeing and having wants and needs that you fear may rock the boat. You deserve to belong to your life. You deserve to live and exist instead of constantly acting and aching.
Ready to start healing? Here are some practical tips and resources
- Start becoming aware of the filters and subtle things you do that aren’t fully honest or real. This is internal work and awareness. You often will notice it in your body before your brain. Working with a coach or therapist can be incredibly powerful in this work.
- Tell the truth. Start a journal where you write ALL the words and feelings without fear or judgment. Let it out. Find a safe space to speak these words and practice telling the full honesty of what you experience, think, feel, and need.
- Get around and in community with other women who are speaking truth and vulnerability. Surround yourself with people who are saying and doing things big and loud and scary. Find people who look and think and feel differently than you do or the communities you are used to. Embrace different and honest over pretty and perfect.
- Need community and support in this process? Get a free journal and join the challenge to help you heal and stop people pleasing here.
- Read Braving the Wilderness or any of Brené Brown’s work about belonging and vulnerability.
- Read about women coming alive to what they want and who they are by another We Spot writer here.