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How people pleasing is stealing your power (and how to get it back)

People pleasing is a common tendency that many of us struggle with. Whether it's at home, in our relationships, or in the workplace, we often find ourselves saying yes to others even when it goes against our own needs and desires.

But while it may seem like a kind and generous thing to do at the time putting your needs second to those of other people can actually strip you of your responsibility and control. When you give away your power over for the comfort of others, it is important to be aware of the cost.

Here are some ways that people pleasing is stealing your power (and what you can do about it)

People pleasing often involves sacrificing your own needs and desires in order to make others happy. Sure, at the time it may feel like the nice and kind thing to do but the sting in the tail and the giveaway sign that people pleasing is in the driving seat is when you feel resentment and frustration.

These feelings come as a result of your personal agency - the sense of you being the one in control of your own actions - getting trampled on.

When you are constantly putting the needs of others before your own, it can begin to feel as though you have no control over your own life. Especially if you find yourself balancing the conflicting needs of multiple people in different areas - home, work, family etc.

The sense of control, direction and meaning in life can get lost in the confusion of everyone else's needs, leaving you feeling helpless and unmotivated. If everyone is pulling your attention in different directions, how are you supposed to move forward on your own path?

Leaky boundaries, having problems saying no to others and not asserting yourself not only leave you feeling frustrated but also stops you from being your true self - how can you be the full You when always prioritising the needs of others? How can you take responsibility for your life when you're energy is always focused elsewhere?

A loss of responsibility and control of your own life may be perhaps the most impactful side effect of people-pleasing that is sometimes overlooked. Putting the needs of others above your own ribs you of your sense of responsibility for your own life because you are always in the position of responding and not directing.

Dreams that never come to life, plans unfinished, desires never spoken of - all the responsibility for the direction your life takes leaks away with every choice to not put yourself first.

If personal agency is the cost of people-pleasing, then perhaps the antidote is to take back responsibility for your own happiness and well-being.

Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries; prioritising your own needs; remembering your own innate self-worth without the need for validation from others are all ways you can regain control of your life and take responsibility for its direction.

And when you do this, when you take back responsibility and control of life, things actually get easier. Here are some prompts to support you think about ways you can bring your intentions, beliefs and behaviours into alignment so you can swap people-pleasing for personal agency:

  • What expectations and responsibilities are you carrying and what are they getting in the way of?

  • Where does your life feel like it is lacking control and what is the impact?

  • Where are you giving away your responsibility and who do you need to be to take it back?

Take some time to journal on these prompts and identify one or two ideas you can put into action straight away as a first step to reclaiming your power and control.


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