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  • Marcy Kocher

People Pleasing During the Holidays

As we go through this series of preparing for the holidays, we have created awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

We’ve questioned the way it's always been done.

We’ve realized we have choices.

We’ve made decisions.

And now, the next step to intentionally creating a peaceful, meaningful, and joyful holiday season is to consider how some of those decisions might affect others.

Not everyone may be pleased with your decisions, and some might be unhappy with you.

How does that feel?

For me, that is a difficult realization.

Honestly, some of the most painful experiences of my life have had to do with other people's negative thoughts and feelings about me.

You see, I was raised to be a people pleaser.

People pleasers feel a strong urge to please others, even at our own expense.


Because it feels extremely dangerous to our nervous system to have others be unhappy with us.

It’s easy to say, who cares what other people think about us, but most of us do care.

We care deeply.

When your nervous system feels as if you are in danger, it responds with fight, flight, freeze, and fawn.

Fawn is people-pleasing.

People pleasing is a survival response.

People pleasing is a strategy your brain uses to keep you safe.

Please don’t judge yourself or others for people pleasing.

It’s deep, and it’s complicated, and it’s no one's fault.

People pleasing is created by many factors, such as abuse, parenting style, religion, culture, and personality.

I could create months' worth of content on this subject alone.

But today, I will simplify it to keep with our subject of preparing for the holidays.

If you are a people pleaser, making a decision that someone else won’t like can range in feeling anywhere from uncomfortable to terrifying.

It’s okay. Give yourself lots of grace and ease into this.

It’s your brain’s job to keep you safe and alive, and if people pleasing is one of its strategies, deciding what YOU want will be a challenge.

The best way to overcome people pleasing is to create emotional safety and not depend on others for it.


What does that mean?

Give yourself what you’re looking to others for.

Love, acceptance, and validation.

You can do this because you’re an emotional adult.

Emotional adults are responsible for their thoughts, feelings, and actions, and they allow others to be responsible for theirs.

As people pleasers, we try to manage how others see us, think about us, and feel about us to feel safe.

But if we want others to love and accept us for who we are, we must do that for ourselves first.

When we do that for ourselves, it’s easier to allow them to be who they are.

They can think, feel, and do what they choose, just as we do.


When I feel judged, misunderstood, or disliked, I practice liking, understanding, and accepting myself.

This is the highest version of emotional safety we can create.

As I said, this is deep and complicated and not easy to overcome.

My clients and I take time to work through this together and develop the tools and skills necessary to be emotional adults.

But here is one tool you can start implementing today.

Take three deep, slow breaths.

Breathing deeply and slowly signals safety to your nervous system.

Put your hand on your heart.

A gentle, loving touch also signals safety.

Then lovingly say to yourself some version of this;

Even though so and so is angry, disappointed, or unhappy with me, I love and accept myself.

Even though others judge me, I am safe, loved, and valuable.

Even though others don’t like my decision, what I want matters too.

And, I am willing to feel discomfort to honor being honest about who I am.

It’s normal not to be able to make everyone happy.

It doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong, and it doesn’t mean you are wrong.

It just means you are a human living in a perfectly imperfect world.

Embrace the imperfection, and have an amazing holiday season.

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