Learning not to over-extend myself*

*at the gym (nope, it's probably not quite what you're thinking).

My feeling is that people-pleasing is one of the most common traits amongst INFP & INFJ personality-types.

We are warm, empathetic and absorb subtle clues from the people around us all.the.time. We can get used to people-pleasing before we even realise it, and it often starts as children or in our teen years.

I think it also comes from a real dislike of conflict (which we, again, feel more deeply than others), coupled with a need to be liked and a desire to tend to others' needs.

Credit: INFJoe / Aaron Caycedo-Kimura

But, this isn't good.

Every little time that you are pleasing someone else, you are own using up your own energy reserves, and you are also subtly communicating to yourself that you/pleasing yourself aren't important, that this isn't enough. If you think about it, this is pretty huge.

In the past, I have given out my energy far too much, and to those who wouldn't possible reciprocate. Sometimes, I may not see them again for a long time, or even ever again. And yet, I have still bent over backwards to please them.

It was only in my mid-late twenties that I really started to learn what people-pleasing was doing to me, and how to start keeping it in check, and not get too carried away with pleasing and entertaining others.

Today, my people-pleasing has to constantly be managed, but I'm delighted to say that I have gotten much, much better at not people-pleasing.

If I meet someone new, I am generally polite, but don't go over-board.

If I see someone at the gym, I might raise my eyebrows or say hi, or otherwise stay focused on my workout and avoid even acknowledging them.

This sounds severe, harsh even, but it is absolutely necessary for me - and certainly was initially because, if I did engage in a conversation, I didn't know how to stop. It was like I was only there to please, to entertain, to be nice to them. Even if that meant disturbing my workout, or using up my own time and energy.

You know, it makes me annoyed at myself for even thinking about letting this happen to me.

I used to be at the train station and make one extra effort to smile at someone near me. Yes, there's nothing wrong with this. But when you lose yourself in the moment such that you are literally just looking externally to be nice and make others feel pleasant, you are neglecting your own needs, your own energy, your own sense of self-worth and self-respect.

This is what I was doing, all of the time. Neglecting all of those things.

Today, at the gym where I spend a fair amount of time, I do make eye contact and smile at a select few of those who I might have, for example, spoken to downstairs in the cafe (where I often have worked from). But, crucially, I don't feel the need to walk around and engage/say hi to absolutely everyone.

I had to completely go in the other direction, initially, and avoid looking at or engaging with anyone as if my life dependent upon it. It was drastic, but it felt like it was needed, in order to reverse my deeply embedded people-pleasing habits. I kept my head down, zoned out, and kept myself to myself.

In fact, I'm off to the gym in the next hour and planning to do exactly that.

This has been a new way of being for me, and it went against every bone in my body not to talk to people, or smile, or say hi. Again, this might sound ridiculous, and my decision to ignore them may sound extreme, but it was absolutely necessary for me to change my way of going things, my way of being, and it has only benefited me in the long run.

This is a simple, and seemingly small, change but it has been so effective - and actually a MASSIVE change for me.

If you want to make any change, people-pleasing or otherwise, you only need to start small.

As a result, I feel more in control of my energy, and I hold a great sense of self-worth and self-respect. As always, this journey of progression is an ongoing one.

But I am noticing the difference already. In fact, I can feel the difference.



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