June 9, 2023
Mental Health

As humans, it is natural for us to want to be liked. In early civilization, our ancestors had to fit into the “in group” to be safe and healthy. Historically, labels were an effective way to identify others as a friend vs. threat. Fast forward to modern times, and though we no longer rely on this approach for safety, many of us innately tend towards people pleasing behavior that may not be in line with our wants, needs, and truth. 


Why does this matter? Because when you move through life making decisions based on others’ thoughts and needs you may find yourself stuck, on autopilot, and not really knowing what makes you tick. If you feel this way, don’t fear. You are actually at an exciting point to explore and define who you are at your most authentic core. When you do this, you can begin making choices that align with what lights you up inside and ultimately live a more fulfilled life. How great does that sound?


Here’s how to start moving from people pleasing to living your truth: 


STEP 1: Find small moments throughout the day to mentally drop into the present

It’s nearly impossible to tune into your own wants and needs when your mind is focused on the future or dwelling on the past. It will probably feel a little forced at first, but over time, it will become second nature.  Remember, just like when you go to the gym, working on your mental game takes practice


Some exercises to help you drop in:

  • Tune into your five senses. Name 5 things you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2  things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste. 
  • Before you start your day, ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now” and “what do I need today?” Keep it simple, don’t overthink this. 
  • As you move throughout your day, notice things that you like in that moment.  This could be the color of something in nature as you’re on a walk,  or a song you hear while driving to work. The practice here is in slowing your mind down enough to notice what you like and how it feels to like something. 


STEP 2: Investigate Yourself

Let’s go a bit deeper and start asking the big, deep questions. Here’s the trick – do not overthink the answers to these questions. Practice answering them with what feels like truth, even if you don’t really know. Put your best foot first, and ask these questions time and time again. Your answers may change everyday, and that’s great…you’re evolving!


Ask yourself and journal any of the following:

  • What feels/felt good to me today?
  • What do I enjoy? (Pro tip: think back to when you were a kid)
  • Who am I?
  • What does freedom mean to me today?
  • What am I most proud of today?


After doing this consistently, are you starting to put together any themes or patterns? What are you curious about now? How will you follow that curiosity?


STEP 3: Amp up the feeling, turn down the thinking

We tend to overuse our thinking experience and underuse our feeling experience, but we can’t get to know ourselves unless we are aware of both our thoughts and feelings. When faced with a decision, we can use mindfulness to help us make the decision that is most aligned with what the present moment calls for. Remember, mindfulness means being in the present moment with kindness, wisdom and compassion. Here are some exercises to get you started:


  • Think about a small decision you need to make this week. Close your eyes and visualize yourself stepping up to this decision. Consider your first option, think about it, visualize it. Notice- are you feeling the decision anywhere in your body? (i.e. tension in shoulders, tightness in hips). What is your heart saying about this decision? What is your mind saying about this decision? Next, do the same thing for the second option. Now that you’ve considered your thinking and your feeling, which option will you choose? Practice this time and again. Start with small decisions and build up to bigger ones!


STEP 4: Practice and take the next best steps

When you start to consciously take account of what you’re feeling, what you want, what brings you joy, and actually pause to feel the joy, you will begin to make decisions that lead you towards joy instead of going on autopilot towards something you feel you “should” do because of external factors. 

Start small, practice, and take the next best step!