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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

How to use Mindfulness to Stop People Pleasing.

I have spent much of my life being a people pleaser and if I am honest it is something I must work at daily. It wasn’t really until my thirties that I started to set boundaries and it wasn’t until I racked up a fair-few hours of meditation, that I began to become ok with setting and keeping my boundaries. One of the things that helped me was being in a relationship with someone who is very good at saying no and never expects anything of me that I am not comfortable doing. This was a big learning curve for me, as my previous relationships had always been about how much I could give and not a whole lot about what was to be reciprocated.

When you grow up in an environment that lacks boundaries you struggle to know how to set them and often invest your self-perception in the opinions of others. This is especially common if you grew up in a situation that was over critical, as it forces you to always try to be your best in the vain hope that one day you will get it right. As the Tiny Buddha quotes, ‘when you criticize a child, they don’t stop loving you, they stop loving themselves’.

As part of my coaching work, I work a lot with clients who are trying to reclaim their boundaries. They are often dealing with an ex, or a difficult parent or an employer who expects too much of them. There are lots of ways that you can work on this with a coach but one of the most effective tools is becoming more self-aware through the practice of mindfulness.

For me using mindfulness has helped me to understand my triggers, why I get pulled into people pleasing and what stops me from setting boundaries. As I became more self-aware, one of the key things was realising I was afraid of rejection. The more I understood myself the more I noticed how it was linked to my childhood and feelings of not being good enough. This helped me to understand that it is thinking that comes from my survival self. The survival self is created after trauma, big T and small t traumas (big T traumas are major ones that can trigger PTSD, small t are ones like having insecure attachment from childhood), and it is designed to help us stay safe in the world. For me people pleasing was one of those strategies and it was designed to keep people happy so I wouldn’t have to face criticism and then feel toxic shame from not feeling good enough.

When I am mindful I can see this faulty thinking for what it is and let it go in the moment, as I know those thoughts are not true right now and my worth and value does not come from the opinions of others, but from me and by living my values. This is thinking from the healthy self. It has been liberating to do this and it now allows me to check in to see if agreeing to something fits with my values and not my fear of what other people think.

It can take a little bravery to go on this journey of self-discovery but the clients who do, never look back. Do you want to live more consciously, choosing what is right for you, rather than what you unconsciously choose out of fear and your past? If you do then book a free chemistry session to find out how coaching could help you or join my free What is Coaching webinar.

Thanks for reading.

I hope our paths cross again in future,


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