Sometimes, I get flashes of embarrassing memories.
Does this happen to you?
I was washing the dishes the other day when I recalled:
In college, my partner at the time had just introduced me to his best friend. The hangout felt awkward. I was hoping his tribe would like me.
Later on, I asked him what his friend thought of me. My partner laughed at me: He said you seemed stuffy!
My face immediately flushed with shame. I thought, Oh no, what did I do wrong?
I also felt betrayed by my partner—another extrovert who couldn’t appreciate my contemplative nature.
But I didn’t stand up for myself.
The shame sealed my mouth shut. I tried to stay calm, but underneath, my body was simmering.
Can you relate?
I’ve come a long way in my people-pleasing tendencies.
EFT Tapping has played a major role. It has helped heal the parts of me that prioritizes others before myself. I’ve now found my voice and speak my truth much more easily.
You’ll find some tips on how to stop people-pleasing with EFT Tapping below.
Why is it difficult to stop people-pleasing?
Think about your parents’ reaction when you stood up for yourself in childhood.
Did they acknowledge you? Did they encourage you to share your opinion? How were disagreements handled?
Left unhealed, our negative early experiences at home, school or elsewhere can hold our voices hostage in adulthood.
We’ll go to great lengths to avoid being rejected or abandoned. Because we all have an innate need to be loved and accepted.
The problem is that people-pleasing will keep you stuck in feeling resentful and inadequate. And ultimately, your needs aren’t met at a deep level.
“Sometimes we tolerate the destructive patterns of others because we are afraid of losing others, not understanding that tolerating them will cause us to lose ourselves.” —Unknown
When we get reprimanded for speaking up—and that experience gets reinforced over and over—our brain naturally associates stress and pain with prioritizing ourselves.
Just recalling a memory reinforces this neural connection. It’s like reliving the event.
Our body floods with adrenaline and cortisol, which puts us on high alert. The problem-solving, creative area of our brain shuts down. We find ourselves in fight-or-flight, or freeze—which explains why I couldn’t stand up for myself in my relationship.
But if our caretakers validated us, this stress response would dissipate. We’d be able to relax and feel understood. Our body would release endorphins that support positive emotions and well-being.
As a result, asking for what we want doesn’t seem threatening.
And we feel empowered to express our needs.
How to stop people-pleasing with EFT Tapping
EFT Tapping is a potent stress relief tool that helps us release the people-pleasing habit and empower ourselves.
If you don’t know how to tap, you can find my brief guide here.
Try this general round of tapping…
Use 4 fingers of one hand and tap firmly on the side of the other hand. As you tap, say the following phrase in your mind or out loud 3 times:
Even though I always need to please everyone around me, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Then, tap on the top of your head and say, I’m tired of pleasing everyone.
Move to the beginning of your eyebrow, tap while you say, It’s hard to say no.
Tap on the side of your eye: I can’t speak up for some reason.
Continue with tapping under your eye: Why is it so hard?
Under your nose: I just want everyone to be happy.
Under your bottom lip: Saying no makes me feel anxious.
Go to the collarbone point: I always need to please everyone.
Finally, tap under your arm: I’m tired of making everyone happy but me.
Take a deep breath. Do you feel a bit lighter? If not, tap through that round again.
Next, you can reflect on these questions and insert your answers into your own tapping statements:
- What experiences come to mind where you felt the pressure to prioritize others?
- What emotions arise as you think about this experience?
- Where do you feel the emotions in your body?
So my tapping statements would sound something like this:
- Even though I couldn’t stand up for myself when my partner said I was stuffy, I deeply and completely accept myself.
- Even though I felt betrayed and inadequate…
- Even though I feel the anger and shame in my throat and chest…
Creating a better relationship with ourselves
People-pleasing is an attempt to be loved.
Perhaps as young children, we didn’t get the attention, encouragement and support that we needed.
Or we received a little, but definitely not enough. (And “enough” is subjective to each of us.)
If our parents didn’t honor who we were, we learned to anticipate what they needed or wanted from us. We learned to give in to gain validation.
This habit, though useful a long time ago, doesn’t serve us anymore as adults. No one told me when I was younger, so I had to figure it out on my own through trial and error.
This is what I would’ve appreciated hearing:
When you grow up, you’ll have to learn how to validate yourself. That means learning how to build confidence from within.
Yes, it makes sense that you listened so easily to your parents. They punished you and you needed and wanted their love.
But as long as you depend on others for approval, you’ll always feel inadequate.
Now is the time to give yourself the love you’re seeking. Celebrate! Can you celebrate your incredible qualities?
Hold the parts of you that keep looking outwards for validation.
Show appreciation for your value and worth. Others can help you see your value.
Yet no one can love you the way you need to be loved, except yourself.
P.S. I’m offering free EFT Tapping sessions in exchange for a short interview. Learn more and book your session.
Annie Moussu is a certified EFT Tapping Master Practitioner helping women build confidence, set boundaries & enjoy healthy relationships. Get her free EFT meditation & guide for people-pleasing.