Releasing the Toxic Cycle of People Pleasing & Conditional Love
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
Let’s get down to it: First we will dispel the myths about people pleasing and secondly establishing the link between people pleasing and conditional love.
Please note: When releasing subconscious shadow tendencies resistance and denial can arise. I encourage you to pay attention to the reactions of your Inner Critic as you read through the following information. If you are rubbed the wrong way or irritated by what you read, that is an indicator that you may be subconsciously engaging in people-pleasing tendencies. If this is the case, you will benefit significantly from going within and taking a closer look at why you do what you do for other people, and what you expect from them in return.
What is people pleasing?
People pleasing is the act of ignoring your personal needs and placing other peoples wants above your own, in the hope of receiving love and acceptance in return for your actions.
What are the misconceptions of this behaviour?
There are two common myths about people pleasing, the most common being, that people pleasing is an act of kindness and the other, is that people pleasing is the behaviour of weak people. Both are assumptions and both are untrue.
People pleasing may be perceived as a selfless act of kindness. However, people-pleasing by going against your needs in the hope of receiving love in return is not an act of kindness, it is destructive to your self-worth, and at its core, it is a manipulative cry to others:
Please love me in a way I can not love myself.
I am holding you accountable for my happiness.
I am expecting love from you in return for my actions.
You see, people pleasing is more about the desire to be in control than it is about pleasing other people. Wanting to be liked by others is merely a symptom of the desire to be in control, control issues arise when you feel powerless or unworthy of being loved as you are.
More often then not if an individual's will to succeeded is driven by the fear of failure or lack of approval, they tend to engage in people pleasing in the hope of receiving praise from others to feel worthy of their accomplishments. People pleasing is often a subconscious behaviour of highly accomplished and successful people.
When people pleasing behaviours are seen for what they truly are, control and a cry for love and acceptance, you begin to understand that people-pleasing is an act of imposing 'conditional love’ on another person. Trying to control other people and their reactions towards you go against the natural energetic flow of life.
Adapting your behaviour with the hope of manipulating a desired response from others requires a great deal of effort, yet when you don't get the response you had hoped for, it leaves you feeling disappointed and, eventually creates resentment towards the other person and situation. This is why people-pleasing behaviours are so exhausting and draining and never produces in a win / win outcome.
How people-pleasing tendencies develop:
Equating ‘being praise’ as ‘receiving love’ and ‘being criticised’ as ‘not receiving love’ in early childhood can shape the adult perception of how worthy you are of receiving love. This perception then forms the false belief that you are not worthy of love for who you are, but for what you do for others.
If your family, culture, community or environment in early development taught you that to be worthy of being loved and accepted, you had to act, do or be a certain way to 'receive' their love; you experienced ‘conditional love’.
Conditional love creates self-worth issues and subconscious false belief that you are unworthy of love as you are. People-pleasing behaviours begin to develop to elicit the most love you can from others, and in the process, false beliefs are created such as:
Others love me when I show resilience and strength, no matter what.
I am loved when I ‘fix’ things or ‘do' things for other people.
Others love me more when I keep the peace.
Others love and respect me because of my achievements.
I am worthy of love for what I can offer others.
Because people-pleasing is often a subconscious behaviour, the Inner Critic can fool us by labelling negative people-pleasing tendencies as doing acts of kindness and justify our actions with thoughts such as:
I'm not a selfish person, I choose to support the people I love.
I like to give back to others. This is my way of doing it.
I am happy to compromise if it makes them happy.
I am happy to help others; it makes me feel good about myself.
I believe it is a sign of respect to accommodate someone else’s needs above my own.
If you are genuinely expecting nothing in return for helping and supporting others, that is indeed wonderful, however, more often then not that is not the case. If you look sincerely at your motivation as to why you do what you do for other people. You may be surprised at the real reason…are you ‘people pleasing’ in the hope of receiving love or feeling more loved in return?
Why people pleasing is not fair to the other person and leaves you in a state of resentment.
By people pleasing (doing something for someone else in the hope they will love you more in return) you are placing unrealistic conditions on the other person. The love we are seeking cannot be obtained through manipulation, because when we don’t receive the love we want in return, we become resentful of what we do for others and eventually resentful towards them, because we believe they do not love us like we want them to love us. When people pleasing turns to resentment, the internal narrative becomes:
Don’t you see the effort I am making for you?
Why don’t you treat me the way I treat you?
You always get it the way you want it.
No one is supporting or helping me.
How could you not see how I am feeling?
Why can't you love me as much as I love you?
Your so selfish, I wish you were more like…
Doing something for someone with the hope of eliciting love in return is a self-destructive and unsatisfying experience, and… this is the biggest irony, the subconscious behaviour of people pleasing is born from receiving ‘conditional love’ and the act of people-pleasing is a subconscious act of placing ‘conditional love’ on others.
‘I want you to love me because of what I do for you’, is one hugely toxic, loaded and heavy condition to place upon another person. In the end, it is you that ends up the most disappointed and hurt because your expectations have not been met and you have denied yourself your needs in the process.
Until you can genuinely self validate your worth and love yourself exactly as you are, there will be a underlying desire to seek love from external sources, be it through trying to elicit it from other people by your actions, or seeking validation and praise for your achievements.
How to identify if you are engaging in any of these behaviours on a subconscious level:
Below listed are six hidden people pleasing behaviours that you may not be aware of. Take a read through as see if you can identify with any of them:
1. You feel responsible for other peoples happiness.
It’s healthy to recognize how your behaviour influences others. But thinking you have the power to make someone happy or they have to power to make you feel loved is an issue. It’s up to each to be in charge of their own emotions.
2. You feel burdened by the things you have to do.
You’re in charge of how you spend your time. But if you are a people-pleaser, there’s a good chance your schedule is filled with activities that drain your energy, and you do them only because you think other people want you to do it.
3. You feel uncomfortable if someone is angry at you.
Just because someone is mad doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. But if you can’t stand the thought of someone being displeased with you, you’ll be more likely to compromise your needs to appease them.
4. You need praise and reassurance to feel good.
While praise and kind words can make anyone feel good, people pleasers depend on validation. If your self-worth rests entirely on what others think about you, you’ll only feel good when others shower you with compliments. (often seeking praise for what you have done for them).
5. You’ll go to great lengths to avoid conflict.
It’s one thing not to want to start a conflict. Yet avoiding conflict at all costs means that you’ll struggle to stand up for what you want and believe in.
6. You don’t admit when your feelings are hurt.
You can’t form authentic relationships with people unless you’re willing to speak up sometimes and say that your feelings are hurt. Denying that you’re angry, sad, embarrassed, or disappointed, keeps relationships on a superficial level.
How do you break the toxic cycle of people pleasing and imposing conditional love?
Until you genuinely love yourself EXACTLY AS YOU ARE, you will either consciously or unconsciously seek love from external sources. If you are forgoing your needs and adapting your behaviour to receive love from external sources, there will always be conditions attached. Conditions you place upon the other person to ‘receive’ love is a toxic cycle, that only YOU have the power to break.
You break the cycle by being in the present moment. The best way to exist in the present moment is by getting to know the inner critic and the false beliefs it imposes on your inner consciousness. By knowing the actions of the Inner Critic you can identify when it is controlling your inner dialogue and leading you towards negative people-pleasing tendencies.