Have you ever been called a people pleaser? In my experience, despite the press wanting us to believe that the world is becoming more and more horrible by the day, the opposite is true. More and more people I meet spend their lives doing their absolute best for everyone else, often at the expense of their own happiness and well-being.
In my line of work, and particularly given that my area of expertise is helping people redefine selfishness, I’d like to think I have a pretty good idea of the traps people-pleasers fall into, and they can loosely be grouped into the five signs below:
1. You’re always tired.
It's a generalization, I know, but one thing that always stands out to me is that when people are too focused on others, they forget about themselves. This means they try to fit way more into their day than humanly possible, and as a consequence, burn themselves out.
2. You’re anxious.
There are always too many people you have to think about, and trying to keep them all happy is an impossible task.
3. You don’t know what you want.
When people ask you what you want to do or where you want to go, you struggle to say anything but, "Wherever you want to," to the point where you don’t even know what you like anymore.
4. You know your feelings intellectually, but not emotionally.
You know when you should be excited and say and do the right things, but you don’t feel it inside. You don’t feel the emotion, because you’re focusing on what everyone else is doing and making sure they’re having a good time.
5. When someone pays you attention, it feels really weird.
On the rare times the focus is on you, you really don’t know what to do with yourself, and while it’s lovely for people to care, it’s actually quite uncomfortable because it’s your job to look after them.
So if one or more of the above points resonates with you, you may be well on your way to emotional burnout trying to please everyone. It’s a dangerous route to head down.
Instead of avoiding the issue or telling yourself it’s OK because you’re people-pleasing for the right reasons (of course you are — trying to make others happy isn’t a bad thing), accept that there needs to be some balance in your life.
When you're happy and fulfilled, you're in the best emotional and physical state to be of service to others. This is why it’s good to be selfish.
Start carving some time in to your week for yourself: take 10 minutes before you fall asleep to meditate, take that class you keep meaning to get around to, get healthy takeout or ask your family to cook dinner for you one night a week.
I totally understand that this may feel really uncomfortable to begin with, but keep reaffirming that you’re doing this for you so that you can be of greater service to others. Forgive yourself for always pushing yourself, and allow yourself some time to just get to know you again. The more you allow some space for yourself, the better you’ll feel and the more energy you’ll have for those around you. They'll probably start to notice the difference in you as well!