7. March 2017 Sam Ryter

The People Pleaser Syndrome (9min read)

Are you finding yourself being a people pleaser at times? In this article I’d like to share with you where this pattern comes from and how you can move beyond that fear and step into your authentic truth.

“I’m sick of living a life that is not in alignment with my truth.” 2 weeks ago I had to laugh out loud when I realised on how much of a people pleaser I am… And I wasn’t even conscious about it.

It caused troubles and confusion in my relationships and I can see how this pattern affected my past dramatically – especially in my love relationship. To see that now, makes me appreciate this journey of growth even more. I feel each time we make a mistake – it brings this incredible opportunity to learn and to grow with it.

In my work, I’m helping people to locate and resolve those patterns in my coaching programs over and over again – I guess the quote “You teach best what you need to learn most” is again so on point. There was another level for me. It was my time to grow up.

I’m so excited to zoom out with you and to see the bigger picture, to reveal what’s behind the people pleaser syndrome, how it affects our lives and most importantly: How can we move beyond this fear and live in integrity with ourselves.

The Root Of The People Pleaser Pattern

Do you have those moments, where you want to speak your truth – but you are just too afraid of the consequences?

It can seem so hard to be honest. Lately someone told me “Hey Sam, we should meet!” … And I honestly I just didn’t feel like meeting that person – at all.

But I was just too afraid to say “NO”… so I hesitated, felt the pressure and eventually said “Yeees, suure.” Have you had familiar experiences?

Because after all I’m “Sam” and Sam is a nice guy, and Sam is social, and he loves to meet everyone… And it just wouldn’t fit into that picture of “Sam” if he’d say NO. – My internal dialogue. My ego’s justification.

I was afraid to lose this idea of myself, and I said YES.  – And the moment I said YES, I felt this deep emotional pain… Very subtle… but I knew that it wasn’t in alignment with me.

The People Pleaser Lives In Fear

Does that story sound familiar? I see this pattern showing up many times in our society. In so many different areas of our lives. People are not speaking their truth, because they are afraid of the consequences, afraid to hurt someone else, afraid to be judged.

It shows up in our private circles, on the job or in any other social situation. And I found most people have this pattern coming up sometimes.

We live in a society of people pleaser.

It’s the root of so much confusion. We are not real, we are not honest, and we can’t ever connect from that place of fear.

The Cause Of The People Pleaser Syndrome

After that experience I was walking home and reflecting on myself.

Why have I been so afraid to speak my truth? Why is it sometimes so hard to just be real? What made me hold back in that situation?

Was I afraid to hurt that person? Or was it because I just didn’t want to come across as a mean or selfish person?

Well that’s what the mind likes to believe. I can see that on the surface.

But what if, on the core of this behaviour, lies nothing more than a fear of losing connection, and of not being loved?

While working with people all around the world, I can see that there is often a very similar belief showing up underneath the surface.

(A belief is working on a subconscious level. It affects our behaviour, our lives without us even realising.)

“If I’d speak my truth – I could hurt/offend someone, and that would mean I would lose love/connection/acceptance”.

Discovering and becoming aware of those beliefs is the first step, because that lets us question the truth of those thought-patterns.

In summary: Being a people pleaser is the effect of a misunderstanding of how we can experience connection and love.

The consequences of being a people pleaser

The people pleaser syndrome is a silent killer.

Each time we chose not to listen to our core we sacrifice something within us. And we do it over and over again as it seems like a small sacrifice that is worth taking in order not to ‘lose connection’.

But what if this behaviour has a devastating effect on our lives?

We are so sensitive beings. And people feel when others are not genuine. Often it’s unconscious but we pick up so much that goes beyond language. We feel when something appears ‘off’ or not real.

Being a people pleaser is everything else as being genuine and honest. People feel that. Even though you appear nice, people will never truly connect. And neither will you, because you are in fear, in protection mode.

So by being a people pleaser we lose from the first moment. Because we create a disconnection and even worse: Each time we don’t live in integrity with ourselves, we disregard our core being. We disregard ourselves. Through that behaviour, we subtly drain our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.  It’s a rabbit hole of pain – it’s a killer and it can be dangerous.

Conflict Selfishness vs. Integrity

Some questions might arise: But Sam, isn’t it selfish to just think about yourself?

I would ask back: What if selfishness is not necessarily bad?

There is this amazing quote of Abraham Hicks, it says: “You’re happiness is the biggest gift for the world.”

I resonate so much with it, because I know that when I’m unhappy, when I feel ‘unworthy’, when I don’t speak my truth – I’m actually doing a disservice to this world.

So what if the ultimate act of being selfish is being a people pleaser? Because this is a pure act out of selfish fears.

Speaking my truth vs. Hurting Others

There is a conflict, a fear. What if I hurt or offend the other person by speaking my truth?

Well, first of all I believe that we can’t really take responsibility about another person’s feelings. Secondly I believe that not speaking our truth is the ultimate setup to hurt someone.

It’s interesting how our mind likes to believe that we are doing a service to others when we try to please them all the time. But what if your honesty is a much greater gift?

What if we can speak our truth without being offensive? What if we can share our truth from a place of love? In my case, with that friend that wanted to meet me, that would have been: “Hey man, I appreciate you asking me – but I don’t feel that this is something I need now in my life, I hope you understand.”

And if we go a level deeper: It’s not what you say, but how you say it. And when we slow down, check in and share our truth from ‘the heart’, from a place of love we offer an incredible gift to others and that’s our truth, that’s who we are.

We unpeel the layers of fear, we express ourselves.

The Effects Of Living In Integrity

Living in integrity is not a “selfish” act. It’s an act that serves others most.

It’s an act where you take off your mask. It’s an act where you show up real. And that’s most lovable. That makes people connect to you.

There is nothing worse in a relationship than dishonesty. When we don’t have clarity about the other person we start to create our own stories. And those can drift away into horror stories.

When we act out of fear (being a people pleaser), we create walls between us and others… that doesn’t prevent us from losing connection or not being loved… but it’s the cause of disconnection.

Speaking your truth is being in integrity with yourself – it is what you deserve and it is what others deserve from you because it creates the most important foundations for a stable relationship: Certainty, Love and Connection (Article: The 3 basic human needs in a relationship)

Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Reality

No one needs to be a people pleaser. Yet many of us are – because of our thinking and beliefs. With this article I really just wanted to encourage you to question those thoughts and beliefs. Because once we become aware that those thoughts and beliefs are not serving anyone but actually limiting the quality of our lives, we can actually make a conscious change.

At this point I really want to honor you, because this is going into the realm of higher self-awareness – a space where more and more people tap into. As you have probably recognised: this is a journey back to yourself.

The week of speaking my truth

2 weeks ago I not only became aware of those patterns, I realised how painful and devastating they were for my life.

I was just so sick of living a life where I’m not living my truth.

So I made the upcoming week as “the week of speaking my truth”. Whenever a situation came up where I had a hard time to decide, I checked in, I felt… and then I expressed my truth from a place of love.

The last 14 days have been incredible for me. It brought me so much closer to the people. I realised that me being honest and expressing all of me, is such an incredible and moving gift to others.

If you find yourself being a people pleaser in one or some areas of your life, then I’d like to encourage you to make the next week as the week of speaking your truth. Where you just share honestly – not from a place of fear – but where you listen and express what’s within you from a place of love.

I’d be incredibly interested in your results after just 7 days, and you can submit and share them in my Facebook Group.

What I realised, also after going through similar sequences with my clients: It makes people respect you more; it brings love, acceptance, and certainty into your relationships.

At the end of the day, I truly believe that there is no need to play any games. Period. I believe in a world where people share openly, where people speak their truth. I believe in a world of heartcentred honesty. Because I believe THAT will bring us closer together.

My Question For You:

We have all various areas in our lives. In some we live more in integrity in others we feel we ‘lose’ ourselves more often. I’m interested: What is the number one area in your life where you find yourself being a people pleaser? 

Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for being here!

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Sam Ryter

Sam Ryter is an author and professional coach. He helps people to create deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others, the world and themselves.