People-Pleasing to Avoid Conflict

Personal Stories, Relationships | 0 comments


Written by #WWR

The concept of people-pleasing is new to me. When I say new, I understand my past behaviour and know I tolerated toxic relationships for a quiet life. But acknowledging why I continued the cycle once removing negative influences helped me in all areas of my life.

The phrase “you can’t pick your family” has always made me laugh. Mainly because, as an adult, I have chosen whom I spend my time with and how– family members included.

My tolerance for toxic behaviour, including mine, has worn thin as I age, which resulted in a Marie Kondo-Style removal of anyone that didn’t spark joy.

I was once a people-pleaser who didn’t want to rock the boat and often found myself in uncomfortable situations.

I’d be the go-to person who would listen to others rant about their difficult life or how others were the root of all their woes. I’d avoid sharing my opinion on their issues when asked to avoid the inevitable falling out because I hadn’t sided with their ridiculous point of view.

Up until recently, I thought all my relationships were meaningful. I often said that you had to take difficult people with a pinch of salt. I was filled with endless excuses: They had a hard childhood, they’ve been through a lot, and they’re fun in small doses!


Why didn’t you just cut them out of your life?

I thought everyone put up with difficult people; they’re unavoidable! I thought. They’d be the dominant one within the circle of friends or the self-appointed head of the family.

We’d tip-toe around their feelings because we excused their repetitive outbursts and tantrums; we knew what they were like. No one would challenge them for the sake of a quiet life. Not because we were afraid but because we didn’t want to deal with inevitably being an enemy– a target for even more toxic behaviour until we finally caved and apologised for not doing what was expected.

I’d refer to all the good they did or explain the history of the relationship. Again, enabling their toxic behaviour by making poor excuses and never speaking up.

However, I always wondered if I mattered to them. Wouldn’t that make people change their ways or treat me how I treat them? Apparently, when it comes to people-pleasing, this is down to manipulation. We can’t expect people to act a certain way because we’re nice and accommodating. People don’t change just because you’re a pushover; they take advantage!

Answer this, are you being overly nice in the hope they’ll reciprocate? – If so, you may need to acknowledge your part in this never-ending cycle. Try evaluating the true meaning behind your intention- are all your acts selfless?

I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting.”― Eve Ensler

Life is too short to be walking on eggshells

While in a relationship, a partnership, friendship or otherwise, you have the right to say what you want without fear of repercussion. You should be able to have friendly debates and your own opinions and thoughts without escalating into a toxic situation; you’re allowed to have a voice.

If you can’t, you’re merely there to satisfy the other person’s needs; you’re needed as a valuable asset. You are in a one-sided relationship to make them feel better about themselves, suppress their insecurities and feed their ego.

Are we at fault?

Looking back, I do blame myself. Not in a self-pity sort of way, but I acknowledge my part in these toxic relationships. I was that “yes” person; I bit my tongue in many situations. I never challenged their side of the story when I knew it was wrong. I kept quiet when they would go on and on about how other people treated them, even though I knew those people were probably as tired of them as I was.

You may accept your role as a people-pleaser and run on auto-pilot as time passes, but that cannot last forever. You’ll store all the minute irks and situations where they have taken you for granted and hold those feelings until you’ve had enough. That’s called resentment!

Those icky emotions will come out in various ways; you’ll project those feelings in places with no real consequence. Online in comment boxes, supermarket queues when someone pushes in, and perhaps in your personal relationship where you know your partner will take it because they know you had a hard day.

Being a “yes” person and suddenly having your own opinion will shock those who have taken advantage of your willingness to comply. You’ve “changed”, or you’re being persuaded to speak up because of the influence of new friends– when really, your last nerve is shot.

The insults will start flying, and gaslighting tactics and deluded accusations will come. Their insecurities are now fully projected onto you because how dare you form your own opinions or stand up for yourself? How dare you abandon them! How dare you put yourself first!

You are now the enemy. You knew it would come to this because you’ve listened to previous stories of others in the same situation– they, too, reached breaking point and left.

These people do not spark joy 

You can choose who you have in your life. You can choose who you spend time with, who you allow in your space and how you want to be addressed. You control your relationships and should be equals. You deserve to be treated with respect and should be able to have your thoughts and feelings accepted and valued.

You’re allowed to be you!

We are all born into families we didn’t choose, and we may start friendships based on our circumstances. We may continue these relationships because we’ve known them for years and feel we owe them gratitude for sticking around. But, as much as you love and value these people, your love and value should be respected and reciprocated. If not, you’re just another “yes person”, enabling and excusing harmful behaviour and fuelling toxic personalities. 

Think about your long-term relationships, which you put much effort into. Do they spark joy? If not, my love, why are you bothering?

During E8 of the Women Who Rebrand Podcast, we were joined by author and blogger, Natalie Lue. She helps people eliminate emotional baggage clutter for better relationships, self-esteem and work.

Natalie breaks down the various types of people-pleasing and the devastating consequences that can come from this habit.

She shares some sage advice on reducing resentment that can build during seemingly unavoidable family get-togethers, as well as the difference between a hard and a soft “no”.



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