I am writing this exactly six months after I first started meditating. It has had such a positive impact on my life I wanted to share why with you and in particular, why I think it can help with recovering from people-pleasing.
There has been a lot of research into the positive effects of meditation on wellbeing, how it can help reduce anxiety, increase concentration, memory and conscious living of your life. I want to look specifically at it in terms of what it can do for a recovering people-pleaser like myself.
When I meditate I am no longer in time, that is to say I am no longer thinking about the past or the future. I am fully focused on the present moment. And that present moment involves me, on my own, sitting meditating. That’s all. What that does for me is that I cannot at the same time be thinking about anyone else – their needs, desires, worries, what they want from me, how they want it, etc.
For a people-pleaser, it is a tiny glimpse into the fact that people are capable of getting on with their lives without us worrying about them and helping them all the time.
A lot of the meditations I use involve focusing on the breath, the body or involve a visualisation. That means that my mind has to shut up whilst I am concentrating on these things. The thoughts that I used to have running rampant around my mind such as ‘Am I doing it right?’, ‘Am I good enough?’ or ‘What else could I be doing?’ have to stop.
The peace of a quiet mind is so attractive, it’s one I want to keep coming back to and so meditation has led me to other mindful practices and teachers on how to get my mind to serve me, rather than have it run the show.
Meditation has also reinforced what I have been learning about self compassion. One of the attitudes of meditation is acceptance - accepting what is and this has been very helpful in acknowledging my emotions and paying attention to them.
People-pleasers are experts at denying their emotions. They have grown up or gotten so used to taking care of everyone else whilst their own emotional needs were not met. They can be out of touch with their emotions and their own bodies. Meditating can be a way of re-connecting with their feelings. As the focus is often on the body, it has helped me truly feel the emotions in my body, rather than staying stuck in my head. This has helped me process the feelings and let them go.
Similarly, I have encountered a lot of people-pleasers who have suffered from not being in touch with their physical bodies. I used to suffer from this. I didn’t even realise I had developed repetitive strain injury (RSI) in my wrists until it was so bad I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. Imagine being so out of touch with your own body! Whilst not exclusive to people-pleasers, this denial of our own body’s needs can be reversed through re-connecting with our bodies and meditation can contribute to that.
There is a very helpful spiritual element to meditation too. A lot of modern meditations are secular, but there is often reference to something bigger, whether it’s to your highest self, source, the universe, God, or the connected energy of all things. I think it’s not a coincidence that most recovery programmes include a spiritual element too. What it forces us to do is to acknowledge that we can’t control everything. That there is something greater than ourselves.
Some people are surprised when I tell them that people-pleasers are actually trying to control others. It seems at odds to the persona of a ‘giver’ and a ‘nice’ person. However, people-pleasers are terrified that other people won’t like them and will leave them, so they have their own strategies, maybe unconscious ones, to control others. When you realise that you are not responsible for fixing everything, it frees you of overwhelming responsibility and gives you a peace you have never known before.
Part of the work of recovering from people-pleasing is to make your own needs and wants a priority. I committed to a daily meditation practice for myself. It is something that I want to do. Meditation is my time and I have had to learn to honour that and set boundaries around it.
Finally, some meditations focus on what you want in life. They give you space and time to dream! Most people-pleasers are focused on other people’s dreams and helping to make them happen. On top of that they often have a deprivation mindset in that they believe there isn’t enough to go around and don’t believe they have the power to shape an amazing life for themselves. Meditation is a gentle way to explore different ways of seeing the world, of visualising your dream life and hearing and saying affirmations that bolster you in taking steps towards it.
I offer to work with clients using mindful meditation and mindful practices if they are interested in them, so it makes sense that I have my own meditation practice. Primarily though I meditate for myself and my own growth into all that I am meant to be.
Thanks for reading. If you have any challenges with creating an authentic life that you would like some support with, let’s have a chat about how I can help. I offer a free, no obligation, introductory coaching conversation where you can experience my coaching firsthand.
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I run a closed Facebook group for recovering people pleasers (women only)