transforming people pleasing
with somatic experiencing
I remember it like it was yesterday…
I was sitting opposite my wonderful somatic experiencing trainer, her bare feet placed gently over the top of my feet to offer my nervous system support and co-regulation, while we role-played scenarios where I set boundaries with, and said ‘no’ to my (at the time) boss.
It was the first time I’d acutely felt and been able to maintain presence as the slow numbness of a freeze response crept through my system.
The thought of disappointing my boss, whom I respected and admired greatly, was terrifying to me. It had nothing to do with him (he’s now a very dear friend, in fact) or my working environment – this response in my system was all mine.
I never learned it was safe to have a differing opinion, my experience was that if I somehow disappointed someone or got something wrong, that I’d be criticised and love would get withheld. I’d dealt with this by becoming numb and hard to ‘endure’ what was happening and in an effort appear unaffected by it.
This memory is a few years ago now.
I remember it so clearly because it marks a moment that was a turning point for me. After this experience I gained more and more capacity and power to meet this freeze response when it showed up, and bravely maintain presence in what had previously been conversations and moments that had felt really frightening and would’ve had me somehow abandon myself.
Most people probably wouldn’t have picked me as a people pleaser based on how I presented to the world, but I was.
Today, I can tell the truth about how I’m feeling, I can give someone news I think might be disappointing for them, I can say ‘no’ and I can ask for support. Sometimes these things still feel hard, but the fear that comes up no longer has me freeze, abandon myself or minimise my feelings and needs.
The quality of the personal and professional relationships I have in my life as a result of my hard work is incredible.
Healing people pleasing patterns is a process and journey to be taken over time, not an ‘on/off’ switch.
But if you want relationships where you can truly be YOU, in all your shades and flavours; if you want to create healthy boundaries with your work colleagues, if you want to feel valued, seen and cared for by your spouse, if you want to say no to some social things to create more time for yourself with feeling guilty…then doing this work is so worth it.
Please leave a comment and share, what steps are you committing to in the journey to unravelling your people pleasing patterns?