“Mrs Anderson” the nurse called …

It was my 4th pre-op assessment for a 3-times-postponed hip surgery and by that time I was not very nimble on my feet!

I got up hurriedly to follow her as she scurried off around the corner and quickened my pace to catch up, little realising these would be the last few unaided steps I would take for the next 8 months.

It was all over in a flash

People-pleasing - medical staff waiting

I remember seeing her standing to attention as I rounded the corner, holding the door open for me, every inch of her saying ‘Come on then, hurry up!’ – or so it seemed to me!

The next minute I was on the floor with 3 handsome young consultant surgeons (showing my age here, I know) peering anxiously down at me, trying to assess the damage before helping me back to my feet.

This was 9 months ago and I’ve played those few crucial seconds over in my mind a thousand times since then, swinging between beating myself up for being so clumsy and telling myself it was an accident, accidents happen, it was no-one’s fault.

Going deeper

I’ve had time to reassess it since then though, and to do some tapping for the shame, guilt, blame, the frustration and anger at myself, at the NHS, at the nurse for being in such a hurry etc etc.

What I realise now is that it was the People Pleaser, the Good Girl in me, who was so desperate to keep pace, not to keep the nurse waiting, she needed me to be quick, OMG don’t be a nuisance, just keep up! When actually what I needed to do for my own safety’s sake was to pick up my things calmly and follow her at my own slow pace.

That possibility didn’t get a look in though, because I was triggered by the request from an authority figure into recklessly speedy catch-up mode before you could say Jack Robinson, and the foot on the end of the leg that no longer worked properly got caught on the floor and stayed behind, whilst the bulk of me flew forwards at a terrific rate.

9 months of spectacular consequences and priceless learnings followed.

But that’s a story for another day!

What’s this got to do with business?

I’ve been so struck by the subconscious compulsive need in me to keep other people happy, to meet other people’s needs, whilst completely overriding or ignoring my own, that I thought it might be useful to share here.

This fear of upsetting other people, particularly people in authority, and the compulsive need to keep them happy at the expense of our own needs, is a pattern I come across a lot with clients as well as in myself. After all, we’re caring people, we want to be helpful and we want to make a difference for others, right?

But the compulsion to keep other people happy no matter what, is a really unhelpful pattern to be running when it comes to setting boundaries in your business, or in relationships, and it costs us in so many ways.

How it hurts you – and your business

If you avoid confrontation at all costs, are you able to speak your mind honestly, for example, with the client who persistently cancels sessions at the very last moment?

Or who is just not doing the work between sessions and then begins to question your competence?

And how about the one who never pays on time? Are you able to hold the line on your Terms & Conditions without feeling like a terrible person, or do you let things drift and avoid the conversation, trusting that they’ll pay eventually?

Whichever way you cut it, if you’re not able to speak your truth and be firm about your boundaries, it only leads to stuffed down anger and toxic resentment, which is bad news for both parties and only leads to more pain.

Stop people-pleasing and speak your truth

We need to feel calm and grounded in these situations and able to express ourselves clearly, with kindness and compassion, even if the chances are the other party is NOT going to like what we say.

What if we could be ok with that? What if we could speak our truth fearlessly, regardless of their reaction?

Click the arrow below to find a tapping script to help neutralise this fear of upsetting other people, and to help you come from a more empowered and loving space when it’s time for you to speak out.

TAPPING FOR THE FEAR OF UPSETTING OTHER PEOPLE

Before you start tapping, get yourself into that CONFLICTED FEELING of needing to express yourself honestly, and the need to hold back for fear it will upset someone, or that they’ll think badly of you – just the simple act of tapping around the points whilst you focus on that feeling in your body, will lower the intensity.

Tap until you notice something in your body shift/change, then go ahead with the script, remembering that your own words will always be best, so adjusting for your situation and whatever feels right for you to say. You can download a reminder of the tapping points here.

TAP ON THE KARATE CHOP POINT AND SAY OUT LOUD:

Even though I hate confrontation, I hate arguments, I hate upsetting people, I feel it’s my fault somehow and my job to fix it, I deeply and completely love and accept myself

Even though I dread being honest about how I feel and what I need, I really want to speak out, I need to speak out, but I’m afraid they won’t like it, they’ll be upset with me and that feels too risky to me, so I stuff my feelings down and then feel resentful, I love and accept myself anyway

Even though I hate this old pattern, this trapped, uncomfortable feeling, this fear and anxiety, and even sometimes shame, I choose to love and accept who I am and how I feel anyway, and I’m open to finding some peace around this now

TAP AROUND THE POINTS FROM EYEBROW TO TOP OF HEAD:

EB: It feels so risky
SE: And it feels confusing
UE: I know what I’d LIKE to say
UN: But I don’t think they’ll like it!
CH: They’re going to be upset with me
CB: And that won’t feel safe to me
UA: So I stay trapped in this space
TH: Between feeling unhappy and needing to speak, and keeping quiet to keep them happy

EB: All this confusion
SE: About what’s expected of me
UE: I know I should be honest – and I want to be honest!
UN: But I don’t want to upset them
CH: Somewhere along the line I learned
CB: That it’s more important to keep them happy
UA: Than be honest about how I feel
TH: Because if I make them unhappy

EB: It means (what? Insert your own mistaken meaning here – I’m not good enough? I’m not lovable? There’s something wrong with me? They’ll reject me? They won’t like me anymore? I’ll be a target for their anger?)
SE: No wonder I hate upsetting people!
UE: No wonder I’m keen to keep them happy!
UN: My worthiness and safety depend on their approval
CH: I’m not even sure what I did to earn it in the first place!
CB: So I must be VERY careful what I say
UA: In case I inadvertently upset them
TH: I wonder who taught me that other people’s reactions to what I say

EB: Are more important than how I feel, or more important than what I need?
SE: And I wonder if it’s true?
UE: I wonder if they were right?
UN: Or were they just teaching me what was taught to them?
CH: And what if they didn’t intend to teach me that at all?
CB: What if that’s a mistaken meaning I attached to those old scenes
UA: When I was a new human, just trying to make sense of a confusing world?
TH: Maybe it’s time to update the meaning!

KEEP TAPPING AS ABOVE UNTIL YOU FEEL CALMER, THEN CONTINUE WITH THESE ROUNDS:

EB: What if I could be open and honest in this conversation, in a kind and compassionate way
SE: With the simple intention of making myself clear?
UE: Of finding a better way forward for us both?
UN: No blame or shame attached
CH: I wonder what that would feel like?
CB: After all, the Buddha said
UA: ‘The intention of an action is more important than the action itself’
TH: And I am a very kind and generous person at heart

EB: I do have integrity
SE: I would never intentionally be hurtful or annoying to anyone
UE: And what if it serves us BOTH more
UN: When I’m being open and truthful with them
CH: Even when it upsets them?
CB: Because what they feel about what I say is actually THEIR business
UA: My business is being honest and truthful in a kind and compassionate way
TH: And how they react is up to them

EB: So I choose to free myself from these old limits
SE: I choose to relieve myself of this burden now
UE: I choose to release any attachment to how they react
UN: Any mistaken connection with my worth as a being
CH: Any fear that my true feelings and needs somehow make me a target
CB: And I release everyone else to their own journeys now
UA: Safe in the knowledge that my intentions are good (well, on the whole! I am human!)
TH: I choose to speak my truth fearlessly, and I love and accept myself completely, no matter what

Give yourself permission to set crystal clear, healthy boundaries with your clients, and consider your own needs as well as those of others.

When you do this, things will change for the better in every area of your life, because how we do one thing, is how we do everything, right?

Now over to you

How do you handle those difficult conversations? Are you able to bite the bullet and speak from an empowered space? What strategies do you have for handling them? Or do you avoid those dreaded conversations altogether?

Do let us know in the Comments below.

And if you tried out the script, please come back and tell us what happened. We’d love to know!

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16 Comments on Why people-pleasing hurts your business

  1. Beautiful, honest post Linda, it’s so lovely to see you sharing your truth.
    Honestly I’m not quite sure where I am on people pleasing, like you I want to please those in ‘authority.’ Personally though I am getting better at sharing my truth, despite what people think. What I’ve learned is that when we do this from a place of authenticity & honesty, it feels so fabulous & we get a bit stronger each time.
    And welcome back.
    Lesley x

  2. Linda this post really makes a valid point. Some people do seem to naturally be able to state their case even when it causes friction and others find it much easier to move away from the challenges of deliberately ruffling feathers by not putting themselves first. I absolutely like your idea of tapping to build up strength to set boundaries, perhaps as part of a daily routine.

  3. Wonderful to see you back Linda and healing. A brilliant reminder to create and clarify our own boundaries. Even if others may not like what we say or do. Conforming is something I am learning to question and rather than agreeing to something that feels off, or going at someone else’s pace to know that it is OK to just trust me instead and decide is it a yes, no or a maybe before agreeing or doing something I am unsure about……. xxx

  4. Lovely Linda, it is so wonderful to see you back on writing form – and I know in a physical form you’re healing well too. I love your ability to deep dive into your ‘whys’, and I always love reading your words too😊

    This is a great example of how useful it can be to reflect on the patterns and beliefs underlying our behaviour – and how damaging they can be if left unchecked.

    I’m not going to lie – I hate those kind of conversations and am definitely a reforming people-pleaser! Thankfully, because of all the things I’ve done to reconnect to my inner knowing (including working with you), these days I’m infinitely better at honouring my boundaries and myself without feeling guilty. It’s a lifelong work in progress- but I’m having fun on the journey!

  5. Thanks for this Linda. I have a situation/dilemma at the moment where I am afraid of upsetting people and am afraid of their reaction to a decision I am making. You have given me courage to stand my ground.

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