Do you suspect you have a Pleaser Saboteur within you?  If so, then connection and safety are very important to you.  This blog is part 4 of 4 in a series of blogs written about the 4 saboteurs that I see the most in intuitive women leaders.  It’s crucial to understand ourselves better in order to have healthy relationship connection with others based on mutual respect and loving boundaries.
In this blog, I will cover the characteristics, typical thoughts, feelings, justification lies, impact on self and others, and the original survival function of the Pleaser Saboteur.  Although I have a lot of tendencies of the Pleaser, I have created a fictional character, Sammie, to demonstrate the Pleaser saboteur.
NOTE: All parts in italics have been taken from PositiveIntelligence.com. The Pleaser indirectly tries to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering others. Loses sight of own needs and becomes resentful as a result.

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Are You a People Pleaser: Impact on Intuitive Women Leaders

Characteristics Of The Pleaser

 

  • Has a strong need to be liked by people and attempts to earn it by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering them.
  • Needs frequent reassurance by others about their acceptance and affection.
  • Can’t express own needs openly and directly. Does so indirectly by having people feel obligated to reciprocate care.
Sammie grew up in a strict Christian home with 7 other siblings. She is the middle child. Her Mom was the un-announced head of the household (think Controller) and guided most decisions, except for what lawnmower to buy. She’d decide that too, except that her Dad was somewhat of an expert in all things yard care.
Her Dad was a gentle soul and a pushover. Her Mom yelled at him when he moved too slowly. She was a bully to all of them. One day Sammie got the courage to stand up to her, “So Mom….do you think Jesus would treat his family how you treat us?” Sammie got a welt across the face for that comment.

Mary Learned To Be Silent

 

As a result of witnessing her parents, Sammie learned that she’d better keep her mouth shut. The only time she got affection from her mom was when she pleased her, rubbed her feet, cleaned the toilets, made dinner, etc.  She felt so sorry for her Dad but didn’t respect him.  He rarely had any energy to really be with her.
Now as a 42-year-old, overweight, divorced woman with two kids in their late teens, she feels insecure. She wants others to tell her if she’s doing a good job.  She refuses to be a bully like her mom. Instead, she prefers to let others guess what she wants. If they can’t, she gets mad at them.

Thoughts Of The Pleaser

 

  • To be a good person I should put the needs of others ahead of my own.
  • It bothers me when people don’t notice or care about what I have done for them.
  • They can be selfish and ungrateful.
  • I give away too much and don’t think of myself enough.
  • I can make anyone like me.
  • If I don’t rescue people, who will?
Although she would be the last to see it, she’s turned out a lot like her mom. She bullies her own kids through passive-aggressive behavior, rather than blatant demands of them.  She really wants to please them so they’ll like her and give her love and affection.
But this backfires on her. Since she doesn’t want to upset them by asking too much of them, she takes all of the chores upon herself.  She is over-responsible for their happiness.  At the end of the day, she collapses onto the couch and retreats into her world of Outlander and chocolate chip cookies.

The Shame Spotlight

 

When her husband wouldn’t play the Pleaser game anymore, it led to divorce.  When her kids don’t go along with her rare request for help, express their negative opinion about something she’s done, or don’t express gratitude for one of her acts of service,  she turns on them in her heart. “I can’t believe they won’t help me. I do so much for them. They are so ungrateful!”
Deep in her heart, she wants their love. If she feels she has dis-pleased them in the slightest, the shame spotlight glares upon her. Consequently, she projects her anger at herself onto them.

Feelings Of The Pleaser

 

  • Expressing own needs directly feels selfish.
  • Worried that insisting on own needs may drive others away.
  • Resentful for being taken for granted, but have difficulty expressing it.
Sammie often feels taken advantage of by her family, her friends, and co-workers. She’s the proverbial “doormat.” She feels selfish and self-seeking when asking for anything. The request could be for a back rub, to fetch the mail, to pick her up carryout for lunch. 
She doesn’t feel worthy of getting her needs met.  Therefore, asking for something feels VERY uncomfortable. So she goes without and then feels resentful even though she’s imprisoned herself. Ironically, she believes that wanting things makes her needy and will drive others away. But it’s just the opposite.

Hiding Her Needs Makes Her Needy

 

Needing things is OK. Needing things and not owning it by asking for it (covering up her needs) is what makes her needy and drives a wedge between herself and others. It makes her feel unsafe and untrustworthy to others because they never know her true motives.

Justification Lies Of The Pleaser

 

  • I don’t do this for myself.
  • I help others selflessly and don’t expect anything in return.
  • The world would be a better place if everyone did the same.
Sammie lies to herself when she believes that she is selflessly helping others and not expecting anything in return.  Yes she is. She is putting an energetic deposit into her “bank” of transactions called “Nice Things Sammie Does for Others.” She expects to be able to withdraw her giving transactions at a later time.
She expects this bucket of niceties to yield future fruit in the form of praise, recognition, gratitude, and perhaps service. Mind you this isn’t conscious for her.  Sammie hasn’t examined her motives or her heart.  It’s just how life is according to Sammie.
She truly believes that the world would be a nicer place if everyone acted as she does. She doesn’t realize that her form of communication breeds dishonesty and conflict further down the road, if not sooner.
Are You a People Pleaser: Impact on Intuitive Women Leaders

Impact On Self Others Of The Pleaser

 

  • Can jeopardize taking care of one’s own needs including emotionally, physically, or financially.
  • Can lead to resentment and burnout.
  • Others can develop dependence rather than learn to take care of themselves, and feel obligated, guilty, or manipulated.
Sammie’s son, Mark (19-year-old, freshman in college), is one of those cases where the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  Mark is another Pleaser like his mom, whereas her daughter, Joanie (18-year-old, senior in high school), adapted to being the opposite, more aggressive and controlling, like her Grandmother (Sammie’s mom).
Mark had a really hard time going away to college because he counted on his mom to make all of his decisions.  Sammie loved needing to be needed, after all. Now Mark calls her almost daily.  Instead of encouraging him to think on his own and become his own leader, she accommodates his every need. 

Sammie’s Need To Be Needed Will Backfire 

 

She may love this attention now, but eventually Mark may come to resent his mom for the feeling of being overly dependent.  He may come to see that she doesn’t trust him to grow up and make adult decisions. Further, Mark’s future partner may not appreciate all of his mom’s coddling because she wants a husband, not another child.

The Grand Canyon Gap

Sammie’s relationship with her daughter, Joanie, is fraught with frustration. Sammie feels bullied by Joanie’s impossible demands. She feels she can’t satiate her desires.  Joanie does not respect her mom’s inability to ask for what she wants and needs, calling her “spineless.” They seem to have a Grand Canyon gap between their world views and values.

Original Survival Function Of The Pleaser

 

The Pleaser tries to earn attention and acceptance through helping others. This is an indirect attempt to have one’s emotional needs met. It is fed by two original assumptions that are picked up in childhood: 1. I must put others’ needs ahead of my own. 2. I must give love and affection in order to get any back. I must earn it and am not simply worthy of it.

Sammie Learned To Not Have Needs

Sammie was terrified as a child to ask for anything.  Her mom and dad were stretched thin financially and emotionally with 8 kids. Getting her needs met didn’t happen.  She heard regularly, “Leave enough for your brothers and sisters. You eat like a boy, Samantha Jo!  You’re going to weigh 200 pounds if you keep eating like that. No one will want to marry you!”
This sounds awful, but her parents didn’t know better and were simply reacting out of fear that they couldn’t afford their grocery bills. Sammie made it mean that she was unattractive, wrong, selfish, that her needs were too big, and she needed to deny them.  Nevermind that she played softball and volleyball and was constantly on the go.  She was thin as a reed and had a natural, healthy hunger.  Instead of letting her eat what her body needed, she learned to deny her healthy appetite.

Unpacking The Pleaser

Do you resonate with Sammie? Some of us are born with hardwiring as a Pleaser, meaning it comes naturally to want to help others.  However, it gets amped up with childhood experiences such as Sammie’s and then develops into the negative aspect of saboteur pleasing. 
Sammie:
1. Learned to deny her own needs with food;
2. Craved love and got it from pleasing others; and
3. Learned to be silent about the truth of what was happening in her inner world.
As a result of these patterns, Sammie’s natural strength of pleasing/helping others got twisted into the saboteur behavior of pleasing to get her needs met.
As women leaders, it’s this type of Pleaser saboteur that renders us ineffective. How can we possibly lead others when we take over-responsibility for them and rescue them? On some level, we don’t trust them to be successful on their own accord, whether it’s our kids, our spouse or our team.
Are You a People Pleaser: Impact on Intuitive Women Leaders
We need them to need us, like us, love us, and accept us, even though we haven’t done that for ourselves yet.

We Fear Telling Others The Truth

If we are afraid to upset people by telling them the truth as we see it as their leader, they will miss out on valuable insights that could propel them forward.  If we need them to like us, more than we care about their growth, then we hamper their progress. 
It would be much easier to be upfront and honest in the long run in how we communicate to others what we think and feel. Yes, in the short-term, it might hurt someone’s feelings and be uncomfortable for us.  However, in the long run, it will preserve the relationship and, they’ll respect us for our honesty.
Are You a People Pleaser: Impact on Intuitive Women Leaders

Let’s Please The Sage Way

Pleasing from a Higher Self or Sage perspective is much more effective and has a positive impact.  From a Sage perspective, we choose to give unconditionally which feels good (think Mother Teresa). We aren’t giving or pleasing to be loved back or fed love and acceptance. When we do this, we are making it all about us. True Sage pleasing is making it about the other. 

What Can You Do?

1. Practice Receiving Graciously.  Ask for your needs to be met directly.
2. Give yourself fierce self-care and boundaries. Realize you’re not selfish for taking care of yourself. Put the oxygen mask on first and you’ll be able to truly serve others more.
3. Allow others to give to you. It is an act of service. Give them the chance to feel good about giving, just as you so often get the chance to feel.
4. Love yourself unconditionally–no one else can do it. Be empathetic towards yourself.
5. Learn to say NO when you really mean it without any guilt. This gives space to say yes to something much bigger and more impactful.
If you’d like support in becoming your own Loving Self Advocate and practicing taking responsibility in a healthy way, check out my upcoming free, masterclassCLICK HERE TO REGISTER
 
I’m here to support you like you’ve never been before. I mean that. I won’t judge your past. 
Much Love,
Angie Monko,
Life Coach for Intuitive Women Leaders