S02 E14 - People-Pleasing MamasAug 16, 2021
Do you find yourself saying yes when you want to say no? Trying to keep the peace and make everyone happy? You might be a people-pleaser too… let’s drop the heavy weight of people-pleasing and teach our children a new way of being. A lot of us were raised in homes where “big” emotions were shunned. If you felt sad, mad, angry… that was a problem. Children should be happy. Children should be seen and not heard. Anything beyond that was just not okay. The problem is that when we view emotions as problems to be solved, we have trouble allowing them, and allowing emotions is a key aspect to a healthy and fulfilling life.
In this episode:
- What a people-pleaser is
- How our generation is full of people-pleasers and why
- What we can do to move out of this mindset
- How to teach our children a different way
I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.
Link to membership: By Design
Find me on the ‘gram: The.Parenting.Coach
My website: coachcrystal.ca
Get my free parenting course here: Free Parenting Course
Brené Brown Podcast: Burn Out and How to Complete the Stress Cycle
FMP Episode on the Model: The Model
FMP Episode on emotions: Emotions and How to Feel Them
The sorry plane book: The Sorry Plane
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.
Join me on my journey, unleash your inner parenting expert, and become the mother you've always wanted to be. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and rate this podcast on Apple, and check out my transformative monthly membership for moms in the show notes.
Episode 14, People-Pleasing Mamas.
What a people-pleaser is
All right, all you people-pleasers, you're going to love this episode. I am a recovering people-pleaser; and I say that because I've acknowledged that I'm a people-pleaser, and I am doing the work to shift and change. But I can definitely identify with any of you who feel like you identify as a people-pleaser, and the thoughts and the feelings that go with that.
We're going to first start by talking about co-dependency. So, I Googled it to give you a fancy definition; and co-dependent is Someone who cannot function on their own and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, process, or substance. Many co-dependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.
Doesn't it just sound like they're explaining people-pleasers? Didn't you feel like they just explained you? I mean, You, if you're a people-pleaser as well, like I am. I think that we often get excessively preoccupied with the needs of those around us.
We feel like we're the ones in charge of their emotions, and we can make them feel better and we can make them feel happier and they should feel happy all the time. There's all of these kind of mixed up thought errors, I call them, that we have inside. So, we're going to dig into all of those.
Review of The Model episode, and how it relates to people-pleasing
First of all, we're going to review The Model. I don't know if you remember back, I think it was in Season one where I talked about The Model, CTFAR. There's C is Circumstance, T is Thought. We have a thought, and that creates a feeling in our bodies; that feeling in our bodies drives action, and the actions create the results in our life.
That is CTFAR – Circumstance, Thought, Feeling, Action, Result.
C = Circumstance
T = Thought
F = Feeling
A = Action
R = Result
So, I want you to imagine you have a thought about something, and you feel a certain way, and you act a certain way, and you create a certain result. Well, I want you to think about somebody else's model, where do you fit in someone else's model?
The only place that you fit in somebody else's model is in the C-line - in the Circumstance – the facts or the situation there that happens. You can't insert yourself and put a thought in somebody else's head or put a feeling in somebody else's body.
Now, it might seem like that because if I yell and scream at somebody, likely they're going to be mad or offended or angry, and we think, 'Oh, okay. So, I must have inserted that thought in that feeling.'
But have you ever been around somebody who was like yelling or screaming or freaking out, and you didn't? You, kind of, just sat there; you didn't feel offended, you didn't feel angry.
I don't know if you've ever felt this way before, but I've been in this situation and just kind of noticed that shift in my mind, like, 'Oh, they're totally upset here, and I'm not at all.'
This could have happened maybe if you sent a text to somebody else and maybe they completely misinterpreted what you said and they felt super angry, but you weren't trying to insert yourself into their thought or their feeling and give them that emotion, right? It just happened.
We can't take a little pill and put all of our hurt and anger and madness and frustration in a pill, and then give it to somebody and have them swallow it and feel it.
We might scream and yell and say all of the words we want to say, and they might not even care. I remember coaching somebody ages ago, on their husband – a past husband – who had been unfaithful to them.
And it was interesting because she harbored a lot of resentment, and a lot of anger, and a lot of frustration there. And I asked her, you know, what she thought he felt; and he wasn't feeling that, he wasn't feeling the hurt or the anger, the resentment.
He probably didn't even care. He was like off doing his own thing, right? So, he decided that he had this different thought and this different feeling; and she had a completely different thought and different feeling about it.
So, she's feeling all this hurt and anger towards him; and he wasn't feeling it. He wasn't feeling any of that because the emotion that we feel is inside of us; it's not inside of somebody else, it's all inside of us.
Emotional Adulthood Vs. Emotional Childhood
Now, this was a lot for me to unpack when I first learned this concept because I thought, 'Wait, no, no, no, other people are mean; and they're mad and they're angry, and they make me feel mean and mad and angry,' because that is the way that I believed for a long time, and it was kind of a new and different idea in theory.
So, it took me a while to kind of unpack all of this, and unravel how I was going to understand this.
How I explain it now is Emotional Adulthood Vs. Emotional Childhood. So, an emotional childhood, you think that; all of the events around you, all of the people around you are what make you feel certain things – that they are in charge of your feelings and not you.
Emotional adulthood, on the other hand, is realizing that you have control over your thoughts and your feelings and your actions; and it's not the situation that happens around you or the people or what they're doing that make you feel a certain way.
Now, this is a pretty major shift that happened when I learned this because I was thinking, "That can't be right, other people control my thoughts and feelings and actions. They say mean things, and I feel mad inside."
So, I want you to think about if you identify as a people-pleaser, and if anything that I'm saying here is resonating with how maybe you feel, and maybe you're listening to this and you're like, 'No, that's not right,' this could have stemmed from growing up in a home where you felt like it was your job to keep the peace.
Did you kind of identify as like the peacemaker? If you felt like you had to keep the peace and you had to keep everybody happy, and maybe sometimes it worked, "worked"--
So, maybe whatever you did that you felt like made everybody else calm down and relax and get along again, maybe you felt like it was your responsibility. So, maybe you felt like from whatever happened – whatever happened with your parents or your siblings – that it was actually you that created that peace and that happiness.
It also may have worked or may have happened if you felt like your negative emotions-- I'm going to say "negative emotions", because I like to call them uncomfortable emotions.
But if your uncomfortable emotions were shamed, so if it wasn't okay for you to be mad or sad or angry. If your parents would say, "Stop crying, stop yelling, that's not acceptable, we don't do that in our house."
Or even if they didn't say that, if they sent you to your room or if they sent you for a timeout, even those behaviors were teaching you that those big emotions weren't okay.
So, it must be that you should feel happy all the time. It must mean that you should feel peace and calm. So, not only are you in charge of everybody feeling peace and calm, it's also not okay if you're not feeling peace and calm.
The false mindset that people-pleasers have
As adults, now, you might feel like everyone else around you, needs to be happy all of the time; and also, that you are in charge of their happiness. Those are both false assumptions; and those false assumptions can be really painful when we bring them into our own adult experience and parenting experience.
a) Everyone needs to be happy all the time
The first one that everyone needs to be happy all the time. Now, think about that for a minute. Is anybody you know in life ever happy 100% of the time – truly, deeply, actually happy? I would guess, not.
Our life is full of sadness, grief, despair, anger, frustration. It's also full of awesomeness and amazingness and happiness and all of those lovely feelings that we enjoy feeling.
Life is half and half. Sometimes we're going to feel really awesome, and sometimes we're not; and sometimes, we feel both of those at the same time. Have you ever gone to something where you're super excited about it but you're also so nervous, you kind of want to puke and you have both of those feelings inside of you?
It's like you're living the half and half inside your body in one moment, right? That's what life is supposed to be like. And the reason that it is like that is because if we didn't have the sadness and the discomfort and the frustration, we might not appreciate the other side as well. It might not feel the way it is.
It's like this-- It's like this dichotomy; we both have both of those-- We all have both of those feelings inside of us. So, that's the first false assumption.
b) We are in charge of other people's happiness
The second one is that we are in charge of other people's happiness; that is also not true. Even though your screaming, or yelling, or sadness might trigger somebody else – to be thinking, you know, 'I'm sad also,' or 'I'm mad at them,' or 'They shouldn't have done that,' and had a feeling and emotion in their body – that was still their own process that they were having, right?
I don't know if you've ever-- I've totally had this experience where I'm like so frustrated and angry and maybe I'm even yelling or just like getting really agitated, and the person around me, like maybe my husband or maybe my kids are just sitting there like laughing at me.
And I'm just like, 'Why aren't you this?' Like, 'Why aren't you as mad as I am?' Or 'Why aren't you as freaked out as I am?' Or 'Why aren't you as scared as I am?' Because that emotion is happening in my body; it's inside of me.
And even though it doesn't always seem like we can control our thoughts, feelings, and actions; we don't need to just feel like okay, all of the time we can control these, of which means all the time we have to be happy and perfect all the time. That's totally not what I'm saying, but it is us that is in control of our own feelings.
What we can do to move out of this mindset
So, this is a little bit of a life-changing shift that takes a while; it's not just going to happen overnight. So, I'm going to first talk about what we can do as adults for us, and then what we can do to help our children not learn to be co-dependent as well.
Because we were typically raised in a home where that emotional intelligence and resiliency and emotional independence wasn't really taught. And now that these shifts are happening and changing, there's only so much that we can, kind of, do overnight.
Like it's not going to happen super quickly, but we can start on that healing journey that, over time, will lead us to where we want to be. So, what we can do as adults.
i) Recognize that all emotions are acceptable, and notice how you feel around other people's uncomfortable emotions
Number #1, we can recognize that all emotions are acceptable; all emotions are experiences in our body, they are not problems that we need to solve. So, how we do this is when we're around somebody else that's having some sort of an uncomfortable emotion – our child, a friend, a neighbor, whoever – notice what you feel when they're having their emotion.
What is going on for you during their emotion? Kind of, get introspective and think, 'Do I have racing thoughts? Maybe my pulse is going, maybe I'm getting sweaty or feeling hot. Maybe my chest is feeling constricted or my shoulders are feeling heavy or burdened.'
I want you just to sit with that feeling. Don't focus on like the thoughts that are connected to the feeling that you're feeling, but just notice how your body is physiologically responding to their emotion.
Once you've gone through that process and once you feel like you've kind of noticed how that feels, just notice that you can feel all that discomfort. Feeling comes in this like big wave, and then it goes down; and it has its own little process.
We all can feel those feelings and when we feel like we can't, we push ourselves away from that. We're like, 'No, that's too big of an emotion, I don't want to feel it.' And it's the resistance that actually feels so terrible. It's not the acceptance that feels so bad, it's the resistance in getting stuck in that emotion, which we will talk about later.
So, number #1 is just to recognize that all emotions are okay and that you can handle that emotion and just notice what you're feeling around other people's uncomfortable emotions.
ii) Be aware during that emotions are being produced inside of you – not outside of you, not because of someone else
Number #2, be aware during this whole process that emotions are being produced inside of you, not outside of you, not because of someone else. Our brain is really all-or-nothing; and it thinks, 'If we believe this, if we decide that okay, it's all up to us and we're in control of our thoughts and feelings, then we're not going to care at all about other people.'
I don't know about you, but this is the first thing that came to mind, when I learned about this new process, I was thinking, 'Well, then I'm not going to care about anybody – I'm not going to be compassionate or loving or empathetic or kind – I'm just going to be like, Well, that's your thought, you can choose to feel a different way, it's all up to you.'
Our mind wants to tell us that that's what our brain will go to, but that's also not true. There is a happy balance of us caring for us and us caring for all of the people around us, and noticing their feelings and showing care and understanding and love and empathy, but also noticing our own feelings and showing care and understanding and empathy for us as well, and noticing where it's coming from – for us – and where it's coming from, for them.
And it's that knowledge and that understanding that will actually help. And, I like to-- I heard one time somebody say that, "Oftentimes, we think that if we get a lot of money that we will be greedy and that we'll be mean and that we'll hoard it all and be super selfish."
I totally-- I totally thought this, I totally had this association. And what they said was, "Money amplifies who you already are." I love that; 'Money amplifies who you already are', who you are at your core.
So, this is true with this as well. It's just going to amplify who you already are at your core. So, as people-pleasers; we're all compassionate, we're loving, we're empathetic – we're not just going to turn into this like unfeeling monster that doesn't care about anybody around us.
That shift is not going to happen for us. It's going to amplify what's already inside of us, but instead of just feeling that compassion and love and care for others, we'll feel it for us. And instead of being so uncomfortable when other people are feeling discomfort, we will find more comfort. We'll be able to be still and be settled with inside of us.
iii) Moving through our own emotions in healthy ways
So, number #3 is moving through our own emotions in healthy ways. Brené Brown had a podcast called Dare to Lead, where she interviews two twin sisters. Their last name is Nagoski; Emily, I can't remember their names.
Anyways, so good. They wrote a book called Burnout; and she talks about emotions being a tunnel, and it's this getting stuck in the tunnel – getting stuck in the emotion, and that cycle that's naturally happening – that is really the most painful.
But we get in the tunnel, we go through the tunnel and we come out of the tunnel. So, it's the stuck that really hurts us; and that's where the burnout comes from. And so, they talk about having a physical activity to help you kind of move through that.
So, if you've listened to my podcast on Emotions, I talk about The NOW Feeling Process. So, Name it, Open up, Watch it; describe how it feels in your body.
N – Name it
O – Open up
W – Watch it
But they also talk about Gross Motor Movement, like going outside or going for a jog. Like all of those things we talk about that help us kind of relax and fill that rejuvenation and relief doing something like that.
Dancing it out, just turning on music and moving – gross motor movements. I even heard of people that do dance therapy, right? There's a reason for that because our body needs that Gross Motor Movement to help us move through that emotion as well.
So, those are the three for us – recognizing that all our emotions are okay, and noticing what you feel during the emotion; being aware that emotions are produced inside of you and not out of you; and moving through our emotions in healthy ways.
How we can teach independence instead of codependence in our children
So, one more thing I wanted to add was, how we can teach independence instead of codependence in our children. So, now that we know this and we're like, 'Okay, we want to teach our children, how do we teach them?'
Have you ever said to your kids like, 'Oh, you hurt your sister's feelings. Oh, you hurt my feelings. Oh, you made me feel this way.' That definitely fosters that codependence, right?
You're telling them that they're in charge of somebody else's feelings. There's different ways you can verbalize it, but that's how we often do verbalize it. Another way this happens is when we teach false compassion through telling our kids to say, sorry, when they don't feel sorry.
We're just like trying to tell them how they should feel, "Okay, go, go apologize, go say sorry," when maybe they don't actually feel that; maybe they're not at that side of the cycle yet, and we're pushing it too soon.
Another thing is like when they're screaming or yelling or sad, we say things like, "It's okay, you're fine, you're fine, you're okay." So, I'm not saying these to demonize these practices because, believe me, the only reason I know about these is because I have done them, all for years; and it's such a huge shift to change the wording in which I speak, in what I use to my kids to talk to them about it.
So, you're not alone, do not worry. As I was researching for this podcast, I came upon an article; and I didn't read the entire thing, but from what I gathered from it, it was saying that, in order to undo codependence, it's because we do too much for our kids.
That we help them with their homework, that we don't make them clean their beds by themselves, that we get their food for them all of the time, that we just do too much for them.
It kind of had the vibe of like, don't spoil the child, right? I actually disagree with this thought and this entire article because you can never spoil your child with too much love, too much time, too much attention, too much acceptance.
8 best ways to teach independence to our kids
And although there's a time and place for what they can reasonably do on their own and allowing them to do things on their own – for sure, I'm not saying you should just do everything for them – it's also balanced with, it's not actually teaching them independence when you just make them do everything on their own.
It actually teaches them that they can't rest in your care emotionally or physically. So, no, you don't need to do everything for them, for sure; but you can teach them independence in other ways. It doesn't have to be just go out on your own and do everything on your own now.
1. Giving them some phrases and statements to use
So, number #1, giving them some phrases and statements to use like; 'You're feeling really mad right now. You must be really sad about this – I've totally felt sad like that before. You're probably really frustrated that we're leaving the park right now, feeling this way is totally normal, I understand this feeling.' Just kind of verbalizing what they are feeling.
2. Coach and teach the child later, not in the moment – if needed
Number #2 coach and teach the child later, not in the moment, if needed. So, you can ask them things like, 'What were you thinking then? And what were you feeling, and how did it feel inside of you? And how did you feel when you responded that way? How do you think you could have responded?'
Teach them to be aware and mindful of their thoughts and their feelings; and that even if it seems really hard in the moment, that as they get older, their brains are going to develop and grow – and it will get easier and easier.
3. Let them see you move through emotion in a healthy way
Number #3, let them move. See you move through emotion in a healthy way. So, you can say things like, "I'm feeling really sad right now, I'm feeling really angry right now so I'm going to go and do this," and see them do whatever it is that you say you're going to do.
4. Don't force them to say sorry when they are not sorry
Number #4, don't force them to say sorry when they are not sorry. When they are not feeling that compassion and that sadness and that guilt, don't make them do that.
We're teaching them to feel things when they're not feeling it, so we want to have them say sorry when they actually feel it. Are they feeling sorry, then? You can read The Sorry Plane by Deborah MacNamara; that's a great children's book about this.
5. Help them set and work towards goals, and mentor them
Number #5, help them help them set and work towards goals, and mentor them. Don't focus so much on the end-product being the end-result and being the end-all be-all, but help them just adjust their goals and shift their goals and keep working towards things.
6. Teach them about perfectionism
Number #6, teach them about perfectionism. Allow them to work in that good-enough, and that trying, and that failing; and that failures are okay, and not to worry so much about being perfect all the time.
7. Match their emotion and intensity for them to feel seen and heard
Number #7, affect; match their emotion and intensity so they feel seen and heard – this actually helps them to regulate. So, when you go in and you're just like, 'Oh, you must be feeling mad,' in this soft sing songy voice, that's not going to be super helpful. But if you're like, Oh yeah, I totally get this. I feel this way too. Yeah, okay, what's going on? Like, tell me about it.' That's affect.
8. Don't shame their big emotions
Number #8, don't shame their big emotions. If you feel like you can’t stay regulated during that time and you're going to scream and yell at they're screaming and yelling, just step away and calm yourself and relax. But try not to push them away in the space that they're having big emotions; don't help them feel that shame.
Now, this is all, of course, how we're going to handle it perfectly; and we're not always going to handle it perfectly all of the time, but this is the goal, right? Good-Enough Parenting is the goal.
Learning these new skills, we don't have to use them as a tool against ourselves and say, "Well, I've been doing it all wrong, I'm a terrible mom." No, this is just new knowledge that you can start using and shifting in small ways.
So, go there and try it. And as always, feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions.
I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.