How to Heal People Pleasing and Approval Seeking Patterns

 

You may never have learned how to decide what you actually want or what’s right for you. If you were in an abusive or even overly strict childhood, you may have learned to keep your thoughts to yourself and become aware of what you think the parent wants so that you can avoid being in trouble or being hurt. 

That may have helped you survive childhood, but it will destroy all of your adult relationships. 

Recreating that method will have you assume the role of positive and agreeable partner at first, followed by resentful that you never get what you want or it’s all about them. This may seem very real to you but the truth was, you built that via dishonesty from day one. 

You’ll only change what you see as a problem, so if you label your actions as “easy going” or think your motives are “if you’re happy, I’m happy,” you won’t change them. 

It’s only if you call them dishonest and realize the fear underneath was that if you actually said what you wanted or didn’t want, you’d be rejected…that’s when you can see how flawed your methods were and the need to change them. 

It doesn’t even have to be an abusive childhood in the physical sense. It could be a helicopter mom who was trying to give you everything she never had but let you know in no uncertain terms how lucky you were and how good you had it compared to her childhood. Your fear of disappointing her could cause you to assume that same role because you had the weight of not only her approval of you but the job of trying to heal her pain from her childhood and that was just too tall an order for any human being, especially a little one.

So regardless of your childhood, you have to ask yourself now, “Do I feel like I get what I want in life? Or for some reason do I feel that in order for others to be happy I must bury my needs and sacrifice, that there isn’t a possibility of everyone being happy?”

If you hide your wants and needs, you erase even the possibility for compromise or finding solutions that work for everyone. 

If you answered, “yes,” to those questions, the first thing to do is get out a fresh journal or even a sheet of paper and make some lists. 

Get to know you. 

If you’ve never even considered your wants and needs, this will be an introduction of sorts and it may surprise you. Maybe your wants and needs really aren’t that huge or unrealistic at all, and learning how to voice them and receive them with gratitude can totally change formerly unfulfilling dynamics that have been at play your whole life. 

Make a list of 

1. What you want out of a friendship. 

2. What you want out of a romantic relationship (if you want one). 

3. What you want out of work, whether it be a job or your own business. 

4. What you want out of any other type of relationship; maybe even that of the ones with your adult children or relatives

You don’t have to do this all in one day. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be a very good set of lists if you did. We’re digging through some very old brain filing cabinets here. You can even start with one or two things and think about it or have it buzzing around your mind a few days and add some more. 

Now don’t automatically think this is a selfish, jerk set of lists to make. That may be your initial reaction and that will be as a result of past conditioning that made you feel guilty for actually having any wants or needs. 

Yes, being selfless is good. But being self-absolutely-nothing is not good. It’s not good for anyone else or for you. It will only end up making you feel burnt out, unappreciated, used, and resentful. Healthy relationship dynamics have a flow back and forth of giving and receiving.  If the flow is only one way, well of course that will end with one being all used up and the other then seeking someone else to receive from and/or someone who doesn’t reject receiving back. 

What these lists will show you are places where you’ve been neglecting yourself and choosing others who will assist in the neglect. Once you shift within and put these things into practice, your outer world will change. Not all right away like a magic trick because realizing is different than changing habits. Realizations can happen in an instant but habits can take days, weeks, or even years to change. 

- Doe Zantamata

From the book, "Happiness in Your Life - Book Three: Forgiveness," by Doe Zantamata

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