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Why you need to stop feeling responsible for other people’s feelings

Today I’m going to unpack why you’re not responsible for other people’s feelings, and how people-pleasing can be detrimental to yourself and your relationships with others.

You’ll also learn a technique to help you stand up for yourself and take back your personal power.

Let’s go.

First thing you need to understand: It’s not all about you

The greatest lesson you can learn in life?

It’s not all about you.

Many of us naturally feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

When we interact with others, we think that we are the cause of their reactions and emotions.

But most of the time, this isn’t the case.

There are plenty of other reasons in someone else’s life that they feel and act the way they do.

That’s why when someone judges you, it’s more about them and not you.

Unless we do something intentionally hurtful to someone, the emotions they are experiencing are those that they have created for themselves.

Failing to recognize this causes many people to get lost in the idea of managing others’ emotions.

The problem?

As soon as we begin to anticipate another’s reaction based on our behavior, we introduce inauthenticity into the relationship.

Why?

Because we shape our behavior to meet our expectation of their reaction.

There are two reasons this is an issue that needs to be addressed:

1. We are deceiving ourselves into believing we can somehow help the situation (and help them).

2. By anticipating another person’s thoughts and feelings, we are basically proposing to think for them.

By believing that you’re responsible for other people’s feelings, and can even change those feelings, you’re robbing them of their personal power within the relationship.

And because you’re not being authentic yourself, you rob yourself of the power of authenticity.

Rather than both people interacting properly, it’s actually the relationship of power and control that’s running the relationship.

The outcome?

The relationship becomes inauthentic because each interaction is false.

This is why you should let go of the belief that you are responsible for other people’s feelings.

Not only is it false, but it will do damage to your relationships.

The main problem with people-pleasing

And this is the exact problem with people-pleasing.

Look, on the surface, people-pleasing might not sound all that bad. After all, being nice to people around you doesn’t seem so bad.

But people-pleasing is more than simple kindness.

According to Erika Myers, a therapist in Oregon, people-pleasing involves “editing or altering words and behaviors for the sake of another person’s feelings or reactions”.

This is the same problem that we spoke about above.

If you’re a people-pleaser, you may go out of your way to do things for the people in your life, based on what you assume they want or need.

As a people-pleaser, you believe that you can influence someone’s feelings, or change how they feel about you.

But the urge to please others can damage our own personal power and allow other people’s feelings and wants to have more importance than our own.

This is why learning that you’re not responsible, nor in control, of other people’s feelings is a valuable lesson a people-pleaser needs to hear.

In fact, people-pleasers can sometimes have a low opinion of themselves, believing that people only care about them when they’re useful, and need praise from others to feel better about themselves.

They also have a hard time understanding who they truly are and what they really feel.

How?

Because they push aside their own needs and think of other people’s feelings before their own which eventually teaches them to disregard what they need and want.

The result?

It becomes difficult for a people-pleaser to voice their true feelings they are aware of because they’re in a habit of doing the opposite.

Not to mention that people can easily take advantage of a people-pleaser, knowing that they’ll say yes to any demand.

It’s fair to say that trying to control and feel responsible for how other people feel is not a productive way to live life.

While it’s no secret that it can be difficult to stop this habit and learn to stand up for yourself, there are ways to learn to stop people-pleasing and stand up for what you believe in.

Here is a 4-step process that will help you stand up for what you need.

The 4 step process to stop people-pleasing and stand up for what you want

The first truth you need to understand is this:

If you’re playing a game of trying to make everyone around you happy, then you’re not going to win.

You simply cannot control other people’s emotions, nor should you.

We’re only in charge of our own emotions.

If people-pleasing is a big issue for you, then here is a four-step process that may help you:

1. Evaluate what you need

Think about what you need. Does it affect other people? Does it hurt them?

If what you’re asking isn’t negatively affecting someone else, then you can be safe to say that you’re justified in asking your needs to be respected.

For example, your neighbor may argue that having their music up as loud as possible is their right, but it doesn’t hold much weight when they’re negatively affecting everyone around them.

They’re obviously allowed to play music, but they don’t need to blast it up to full volume for their own wellbeing.

The bottom line in this step?

Make sure to speak up for what you need, but use your common sense to be respectful for others. You don’t need to set boundaries for other people – only for yourself.

2. Use whatever communication method suits you best

Not everything needs to be solved with face-to-face communication.

If you’re not comfortable asking for you needs to be met face-to-face, then send an email.

Sometimes you can better articulate your thoughts when you write something out.

As long as you communicate your needs honestly and respectfully, it doesn’t matter how you do it

3. Maintain your boundaries

Sometimes after you’ve communicated that you want your needs to be respected, they’ll decide to push your buttons and ignore you and keep doing it.

This just means you’re going to have to be persistent. This is great because you can practice taking back your power.

Step 4: You’re only responsible for yourself

Look, confrontation is never fun, and you might be tempted to ignore your needs to avoid it.

But if you use common sense in evaluating your needs, you don’t need to worry about other people’s defensive reactions.

Some people will get emotional when you stand up for what you need. That’s fine, but here’s what you need to remember:

It doesn’t have anything to do with you. Their reactions are not your responsibility.

You already know that you’re respecting your own needs, and you’re not unfairly encroaching on theirs. So hold your ground, and stand up for what you know is right.

The bottom line?

You are only responsible for yourself, your stuff, your actions, and your attitude.

And everyone else is responsible for theirs.

You don’t need to be a people-pleaser all the time. In fact, as we discussed above, it’s manipulative, superficial, and leads to inauthentic relationships.

I’ll be the first to admit that speaking up for yourself isn’t a piece of cake. It’s downright uncomfortable and tricky at times.

But if you take responsibility for your life and live it the best way you can, then it simply must be done.

Be authentic, be yourself, and take responsibility for what you know is right.

You’ll find that you’ll consistently feel more power within yourself.

Speaking of personal power, I highly recommend you check out Ideapod’s course on how to develop your own personal power.

I went through it myself, and the lessons it teaches are all about how to take responsibility for your life and develop your own mental toughness.

If you’re a people-pleaser, and you feel like you’re never your true self around others, then I think it could benefit you a lot.

Check it out here.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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