Tag Archives: rejection

How People-Pleasing Destroys Your Authentic Self

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How People-Pleasing Destroys Your Authentic Self by Shahida Arabi

ARE YOU A PEOPLE-PLEASER?

Symptoms include but are not limited to: saying yes when you really mean no, allowing people to trample all over your boundaries on a weekly basis without asserting yourself, and “performing” character traits or behaviors that do not speak to your authentic self. Can cause high blood pressure and stewing resentment that festers for years until the “last straw,” at which point, sounds of an explosion erupt. You’re so tired of being Jekyll all the time you become the worst version of Hyde possible to let out all the steam that was simmering within all along.

Jokes aside, people-pleasing is becoming a sad epidemic in our lives, and it’s not just restricted to peer pressure among teenagers. We’ve all done it at some point, and some amount of people-pleasing might even be necessary in contexts like the workplace. However, people-pleasing can be a difficult habit to eradicate if being compliant is something we’ve been taught is necessary to avoid conflict.Think of children who grow up in abusive households: if they’re taught that whenever they displease authority figures they will be punished just for being themselves, they may be subconsciously programmed to navigate conflict similarly when it comes to future interpersonal relationships.

PEOPLE-PLEASING, ABUSE AND SELF-CARE

Adults can engage in people-pleasing to an unhealthy extent, to the point where they engage in friendships and relationships that don’t serve their needs, fail to walk away from toxic situations, and put on a “persona” rather than donning their true selves because they are afraid of what people will think of them. This can keep us in overdrive to meet the needs and wants of others, while failing to serve our own needs and wants. People-pleasing essentially deprives of us of the ability and the right to engage in healthy self-care.

People-pleasing of course becomes more complex in the context of abusive relationships where the dynamics are so toxic that it’s difficult for survivors to simply walk away when faced with cognitive dissonance, Stockholm syndrome and gaslighting. At this point, it’s no longer just people-pleasing but the misfortune of being caught in the midst of a vicious abuse cycle.

However, people-pleasing does make it easier to ignore red flags of abusive relationships at the very early stages especially with covert manipulators. We can also become conditioned to continually “please” if we’re used to walking on eggshells around our abuser. This is why knowing our own boundaries and values is extremely important in order to protect ourselves and listen to our intuition, especially when it’s screaming loudly at us. Minimizing people-pleasing is also vital in the process of going No Contact with our abusers.

Part of healing is reframing the way we think about pleasing others versus pleasing ourselves. Here’s a revolutionary thought: what if I told you that your needs and wants were just as important as the people you were desperately trying to please, if not more? What if I claimed that your entire existence – your goals, your dreams, your feelings, your thoughts were in some way valid and needed to be addressed? Just as valid as the friend you’re trying to impress or the parent whose approval you seek?

PEOPLE-PLEASING AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO REJECTION

We all seek approval at times and many of us fear rejection if we dare to show our authentic selves. By trying so hard to avoid rejection, we end up rejecting ourselves. The problem arises when this becomes a consistent habit and leaves us vulnerable to manipulation, exploitation and codependency. When you’re not honoring your authentic self, you’re depriving others of the chance to see the real you, the right to judge you on your own merits and not the persona you perform.

Remember that rule on airplanes about parents putting on their oxygen masks before they put the oxygen mask on their children? Well there’s a simple reason for that – we have to take care of ourselves first before we can take care of others. If we exhaust our own reserves to the point where we have nothing left, we won’t be helping others at all.

The first step to minimize people-pleasing is to radically accept the realities of how inevitable rejection is. We cannot and should not try to please everyone. Some people will like you. Some people will dislike you. Others will outright hate you for their own reasons and preferences. And guess what? That’s okay. You have the right to do it too. You don’t have to like everyone or approve of everyone either. You have your own preferences, judgments, biases, feelings and opinions of others too. Don’t be afraid of that, and don’t fear rejection. Instead, reject the rejecter and move forward with your life.

You cannot let people-pleasing detract from the real you – by working so hard to gain the approval of others, you inevitably risk losing yourself. You become a puppet led by the needs and wants of various puppeteers. In the most extreme cases, people-pleasing can cost you your mental health and years off of your life. So stop cheerleading bad behavior and start cultivating your authentic self!

TOOLS TO MINIMIZE PEOPLE-PLEASING

Start to minimize people-pleasing today by getting together a list of your top boundaries and values which you will not allow anyone to trespass in intimate relationships or friendships.

You can use this boundaries worksheet to write down ways in which your boundaries have been crossed in the past and the actions you can take to protect your boundaries in the future.

Here are also some recommended readings on boundaries, values and people-pleasing which I hope will be useful to you.

21 Tips to Stop Being a People-Pleaser

10 Ways to Say No

12 Core Boundaries to Live By in Dating and Relationships

Five Ways to Build Healthy Boundaries

Different Types of Personal Boundaries

10 Ways to Practice Positive Rebellion

The ideas in this blog entry have been adapted from a chapter of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care by Shahida Arabi and are copyrighted by law.

Copyright © 2015 by Shahida Arabi. 

All rights reserved. No part of this entry may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

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Self-Care Haven: Home of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self Care by Shahida Arabi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. In other words, you must ask permission if you intend to share this blog entry somewhere, and always provide proper credit in the form of a link back to this blog as well as my name.

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Rejection: Rumination, Redirection and Rejuvenation

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The Smart Girl’s Guide to Rejection: Rumination, Redirection and Rejuvenation by Shahida Arabi

Rejection can send us spinning in ruminations over our self-worth and desirability. Whether you were rejected from a job, within a relationship, a potential romance, or a friendship, rejection can threaten our sense of self-efficacy, self-image and self-esteem if we don’t learn to embrace and cope with it in healthier ways. Rejection can also maximize people-pleasing because we may feel like we are at fault for it and must try harder to win someone else’s approval.

Here are some crucial ways we can develop a healthier relationship with rejection and cope with it in productive ways. I call it the “Three R’s of Coping with Rejection.”

The Three R’s: Challenge the Rumination, Redirection to Something Better and Rejuvenating a Sense of Self

1. Challenge the Rumination

Challenge your irrational thoughts and beliefs. Rejection makes us vulnerable to cognitive distortions, inaccurate thoughts or beliefs that perpetuate negative emotions. When we feel rejected by others, we may engage in “Black and White” distortions where we perceive ourselves or the situation as “all bad” or “all good.”  We may also participate in filtering, where we exclusively focus on the negative details of an event rather than the positive ones. Most likely, rejection will lead to some amount of personalization where we attribute the blame of someone else’s negative toxic behavior to ourselves, as well as overgeneralization, where we interpret that one event of rejection as evidence for a never-ending pattern unlikely to change.

What do you think happens when you carry around these false beliefs? Most likely, you end up with a partial or full-on self-fulfilling prophecy, because cognitive distortions tend to affect our perceived agency in navigating constraints and opportunities in our daily lives. If we think we can’t do it, we often don’t even bother trying – we don’t get the job because we don’t believe we’re qualified to even apply for it. We don’t achieve healthy relationships if we believe we’re not good enough. We may end up having a never-ending pattern of bad luck in relationships because we sabotage ourselves in ways we may not even be aware of and maintain connections with toxic partners. Rejection can prompt us reject ourselves under these false assumptions and subsequent actions.

Try this exercise. Start by writing down a list of ten negative, false beliefs you hold about yourself, the power of rejection, and its connection to your perceived self-worth. These can include beliefs like, “Rejection means I am a bad person,” “If someone rejects me, it means I am not good enough,” or “I need people’s approval before I can approve of myself.”

Next, write down ten reevaluations next to these beliefs. These include thoughts that challenge the beliefs or provide evidence against it, like, “Rejection is about the other person’s expectations and preferences, not about my worth as a person,” or “I can feel good about myself regardless of someone else’s perception of me.” If it proves helpful, try to think of examples where these challenges were true. For example, you might think about how someone else’s expectations for a relationship differed from your own and shaped his or her rejection of you (or more accurately, the relationship itself).

Or, more importantly, you might remember a time when you yourself rejected someone, not because of his or worth, but because of your own needs, wants and preferences. Putting yourself in the rejector’s place enables you to gain a broader perspective that resists personalizing the rejection and helps you to move forward. You’re essentially reminding yourself that everyone, at some point, gets rejected by something or someone, and it’s not an experience exclusive to you or indicative of how much you’re worth.

2. Redirection to Something Better

Rejection doesn’t have to be a negative thing – it can be a positive release  of your efforts, and a redirection towards something or someone more worthy of you. What are the ways this specific rejection has freed you? Have you gotten laid off from a job and now have the opportunity to work on your true passion? Has the ending of a relationship enabled you to take care of yourself more fully and opened up time and space for friendship, travel, and new career prospects?

For every rejection, make a list of new opportunities and prospects that were not available to you prior to the rejection. Whether they be grandiose fantasies of what could be or more realistic goals, this will help train your mind into thinking of the infinite possibilities that have multiplied as a result of your rejection, rather than the limiting of possibilities we usually associate with the likes of rejection.

3. Rejuvenation of the Self

Remember that there is only one you and that a rejection of your uniqueness is a loss on the part of the rejector. We’ve heard this phrase, “there is only one you,” time and time again but what does it really mean? It means that your specific package – quirks, personality, looks, talents, dreams, passions, flaws – can never be completely duplicated in another person. You are unique and possess a certain mixture of qualities no one else on this earth will ever be able to replicate even if they wanted to.

Embracing our uniqueness, while depersonalizing rejection, enables us to remember that rejection can be a redirection to something or someone better who can appreciate us fully. Whoever rejected you has ultimately lost out on your uniqueness – they will never again find someone exactly like you who acts the way you do and who makes them feel exactly the way you did. But guess what? It means someone else will. Another company will benefit from your hard work, perseverance, and talent. Another partner will enjoy the beautiful qualities that make you you – your sense of humor, your intelligence and charisma. Another friend will be strengthened by your wisdom and compassion.

You are a gem and you don’t have to waste your precious time attempting to morph yourself into anything else but you just to get someone to “approve” of your unique brand. You are who you are for a reason and you have a destiny to fulfill. Don’t let rejection detract from that destiny. Let it redirect you to better things, remind you of how special you truly are and rejuvenate your sense of self rather than destroy it.

Copyright © 2015 by Shahida Arabi. 

All rights reserved. No part of this entry, which is an excerpt from the copyrighted book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care, may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

To learn more about minimizing people-pleasing and cultivating an authentic self, please see my book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care available in Kindle and in Print.

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The ideas in this blog entry have been adapted from a chapter of this book and are copyrighted by law.

Creative Commons License
Self-Care Haven: Home of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self Care by Shahida Arabi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. In other words, you must ask permission if you intend to share this blog entry somewhere, and always provide proper credit in the form of a link back to this blog as well as my name.