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How can I stop people pleasing/caring if people like me or not?

(10 Posts)
MyDrinkYourDrink Tue 24-Nov-15 14:11:14

Due to my upbringing (ie a bullying father and enabling, narcissist, moody mother), I am a complete people pleaser.

I hate disapproval from anyone. Even strangers in the street who seem annoyed if I won't move out of the way for them. I can't stand the idea of someone not liking me, even if they've been awful to me.

I had a miserable time at school as obviously being a people pleaser, users latched onto me and just treated me like crap. I ended up doing all kinds of awful things to be 'liked'.

Even as an adult in my thirties it still bothers me if someone doesn't like me and I do go out of my way so as not to displease anyone. Which is fine but then I get friends getting cross with me when I really cannot do as they say/want, because they always expect it of me.

How can I stop this! I have tried counselling and CBT. They were helpful but I think the cure for this lies within me but how do I bring it out?

MrsMolesworth Tue 24-Nov-15 14:19:28

I don't care at all anymore, but used to care too much. Not sure what happened, but along the way I decided:
People are entitled to dislike me. Who I am is unlikely to fit well with the entire rest of the world.
I only have enough energy to focus on people who DO like me, and to learn to like myself.
Lots of people who dislike me or think they do don't even know me. So they dislike something fairly superficial and misjudged. Nothing to lose sleep over. I know who I am, accept my own foibles, know that some or many of the choices I have made in life are deeply unpopular with some people but they are important to me so I stand by them.

And the most important lesson to learn is: if someone has decided not to like you, trying to ingratiate yourself to them will not change their mind. If they have chosen to make clear they dislike you, it is because of a deep, unpleasant, neediness in them to hurt someone else in order to feel big and strong themselves. This is not desirable. Actively choose to keep a distance from these people and keep interaction with them to an absolute minimum. It doesn't matter if other people think they are the life and soul. Not of your life and soul, they're not.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 24-Nov-15 14:20:53

Know what you believe is right. Your values. If in doubt refer to them. It makes it much easier to say no and/or not care too much if someone is upset.

I think the following books might be useful to you:

By Russ Harris: "The Confidence Trap" or "The Happiness Trap" or "The Reality Slap"

By Steve Peters, "The Chimp Paradox"

ALaughAMinute Tue 24-Nov-15 14:22:47

Have you considered assertiveness training?

MyDrinkYourDrink Tue 24-Nov-15 14:31:26

Thank you for the replies.

It goes against everything I was always conditioned to think if I don't care whether people like me or not. My parents always told me I was nasty and unlikeable and I guess as they didn't seem to like me very much I set out to prove that I could be liked. Also a teacher at school, when some nasty girls kept being awful to me, told me that I was one of the most unpopular kids she'd ever come across and it was all my fault!

So I felt that I had to prove to her, too that I could be 'liked'.

But I'm actually feeling now that it doesn't matter really if not a single soul in the world likes me as long as I like myself, right?

Joysmum Tue 24-Nov-15 14:40:51

I care, I can't just shut that off, but I'm in a period of mirroring.

I look at how others are to me and invest the same back. So whilst I won't go outside of my set of moral code, I'm not overcompensating for other people's lack of effort when I do that and am gradually resetting my expectations bar downwards to normal levels.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 24-Nov-15 14:44:09

i was like this until a few years ago (am 43). the worse people treated me the more I would run after them.

Then i had a complete change of feeling and decided to think about what I think of people rather than what they think of me.

If someone I don't like doesn't like me, or someone i will never see again, or someone unfairly doesnt like me, and I cant change it, I move on. I f i don't like someone or feel they are bitchy I totally avoid them.

I have my moments but I think it does come with age. And I met some great assertive ladies and modelled myself on them. And made some good friends which helped the self esteem. Dont give up.

MyDrinkYourDrink Tue 24-Nov-15 14:44:37

That sounds good, Joysmum! I really need to do that!

DH always tells me to treat people however they treat me, but then that falls into the 'displeasing' people category and I start to feel guilty or bad that they are disapproving of me, even though they probably don't even notice if I don't smile when I say hello, or whatever.

I am sure I analyse things more than the average person does.

longingforfun Tue 24-Nov-15 14:51:40

I'm a people pleaser too. I worry about rejection, even from people I barely know. If I have an interview for a job I always worry about how I come across and if I don't get a job where I know I fit all the criteria I always think it's because I'm not very likeable, or they think I'm too fat or frumpy or too old or my face doesn't fit in a very negative way

PoundingTheStreets Tue 24-Nov-15 14:52:40

I don't think you can ever switch it off completely TBH, but you can learn to make it matter a lot less.

I learned this lesson when I left my XP, who proceeded to bad mouth me to anyone who would listen. His version of events was widely accepted by many of our mutual friends because I was not in a position to set the record straight (being the one left holding the baby and holding down a full-time job) by catching up with all these people and setting the record straight. I had no choice but to accept that some people would think badly of me. I then realised that since I could not change it, I would have to find a way of dealing with it. So I started to look at what it was about people thinking badly of me that really bothered me and that proved quite insightful. I quickly found that most of the time it was people thinking I behaved in a way that was actually quite alien to my values and beliefs and that I was fearful of how much control those people could effect on my life.

I also realised that anyone who knew me even a little would realise that I wouldn't behave in those ways anyway, which meant that those who chose to think badly of me either didn't know me (and therefore couldn't affect my life) or were choosing to view me in that way (whether consciously or unconsciously) to meet some need of their own (approval of their own behaviour, being easier to run a third party down than challenge a friend, etc).

I also dealt with affront to my natural sense of justice through exercise, during which I'd have long, imaginary rants conversations with my X telling him exactly what I thought of him.

And one day, I just woke up and realised I no longer cared what he did or what anyone else thought about it. smile

It's a lesson that's extended into other areas of my life. My natural inclination is to want to get on with people and to wonder if it's something I've done when that doesn't happen. But once I've had a look to ensure it isn't, I simply shrug and decide not to dwell on it. I'll never not care completely because it's human nature to dislike rejection, but I've learned to only care a tiny little bit and to not let it affect my self-esteem or behaviour.

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