Episode 20

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Published on:

23rd Nov 2023

People Pleasing

Do you frequently say yes when you'd rather have said no? Are you caught up in the cycle of people pleasing to avoid confrontation or for fear of upsetting someone? In our latest podcast episode, we take a deep dive into the modern phenomenon of people pleasing and its impact on life and work. In this episode, we're going straight into the people pleasing pattern, why we have it and how we can move on from it

Understanding this pattern is crucial. It's not just about making others happy or keeping the peace; beneath the surface lies a complex web of low self-esteem, fear of confrontation and ingrained cultural or familial biases. You're my latest podcast episode, I share example of Steven, a high achiever who struggled with saying no. I helped him peel back the layers and discovered that his people-pleasing was a strategy to avoid confrontation. His pattern of people pleasing or what is often termed, fawning’, was draining him. By understanding that it was a (subconscious) strategy to avoid conflict, it kept happening. We he realised most ‘no’s don't equal confrontation, then things could change. 

The key is to recognise your neurological state - are you in flow, fight, flight or freeze mode? Instead of succumbing to a flight response, adopt a problem-solving mindset. Challenge the belief that saying no equals confrontation and acknowledge the layers of past biases that may be influencing your behaviour. Combine this with challenging your own beliefs and fears, you can start to have a different response.

Consider shifting your attitude to a present-focused approach and let go of old patterns. Your value is immense and the narrative of low self-worth can be challenged and rewritten. Own your achievements, no matter how small, and start investing in your own self-worth bank.

Remember that being true to yourself doesn't mean upsetting others. You can say no graciously and authentically, making room for your needs while maintaining healthy relationships.

If these insights resonate with you, or if you have specific questions about overcoming people pleasing, please leave a comment or contact us. Let's break free from the unhelpful pattern of people pleasing and embrace a life of authenticity and empowerment.

Get in touch with Sal

If this episode has caught your attention and you wish to learn more, then please contact me. I offer a free 20 min call where we can discuss a challenge your facing and how I may be able to help you

Transcript
Sal Jefferies:

Welcome to Mindset, mood and Movement, a systemic approach to human

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behavior, performance, and wellbeing.

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How psychological, emotional, and

physical health are all connected.

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In this episode, I'll be sharing

my knowledge and experience to help

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you overcome a challenge that you

might be facing in life health.

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All work.

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Sal: Do you find yourself saying yes

to things when you'd rather say no?

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Do you find yourself doing things to

make people happy, to please them,

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when actually you don't really want

to do it, but you feel compelled to?

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Okay, well, people pleasing is a modern

phenomenon and it's widespread and it

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can be a serious problem and it can

really degrade your life and your work.

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So in today's episode, I'm going

to talk about this, about the kind

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of the how, the what and the why,

and how do we deal with this stuff?

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But first we need to understand

it as with any problem.

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It's so tempting in our culture to get

rid of the problem, solve it, band aid it.

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That is not helpful.

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We want to understand why.

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Why do we have this pattern?

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Why do we do this behavior?

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What does it serve?

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Where does it come from?

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Because if we don't understand its origin

and its usefulness, then generally we're

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gonna probably cycle back to that pattern.

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So people pleasing.

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On the surface it can sound lovely.

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You know, you're making people happy,

um, not rocking the boat, keeping things

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all smooth, those kind of statements.

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They are all Let's just say they're

all things we can say to ourselves

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that basically confirm why we do it.

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The real reason we do it is for, let's

say, some more heavyweight reasons.

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It's low self worth, kind of fear, fear

of rejection, lack of assertiveness,

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perhaps not wanting to fit in.

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All these kind of things.

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So, let me, let me take you

through this a little more.

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I worked with a guy, uh, a little while

back, uh, Stephen, so we'll alias him,

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but Stephen, Stephen was a super guy,

really nice, just had a huge network of

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people, really successful, hard worker.

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But Stephen was a people pleaser,

and we were doing some work on,

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uh, his performance, uh, both, you

know, as a person and in his work.

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And the, the pattern was coming

up, it was clear to me, and my job

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was to help it become clear to him.

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So we got into it, and, uh, what?

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Got into the point of why do you

say yes when really you want to say

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no to to events to things going on?

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He on the surface gave me an answer,

which was like, oh, I just you know,

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I Yeah, I'd like to keep people happy,

you know I'm a people person all this

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stuff, but actually when we drilled

down and got underneath him whilst that

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was true to some degree What he really

was doing was avoiding confrontation

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What he didn't want to say to someone

is like, no, I don't want to do that.

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Or I can't make that or that's not

going to happen because that would be

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alias to I am confronting this person.

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Now while that's not actually true,

saying no to somebody is simply saying no.

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The belief of this is a confrontation

about to happen is often what goes

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on in the people pleasing mindset.

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So, if this is going on for you, then

it might be a fear of confrontation.

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What does it mean to stand up

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for

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Sal: yourself?

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And we've got to cycle this back.

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Early experience normally is where

these, these formations lie in our

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experience of, in our brain, literally,

in our body, in our psyche, about

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what it means to be in confrontation.

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And the problem we have

is that if we think of...

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Every time we say no to someone,

that equals confrontation.

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The people pleasing pattern will slip

in, and there you'll be, saying yes to

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everything, even though you don't want to.

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But nothing is all, so it

may not be confrontation.

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It might simply be, Oh, no thanks, that's

a great invitation, but I can't make that.

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Or, No, my workload's too

busy, I can't take that on.

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And that actually

becomes about discussion.

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So we have to be very careful of not

understanding these sub patterns.

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So that's number one.

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So Stephen's work was really to

understand people pleasing was a

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strategy to avoid confrontation.

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When we realised that most

no's don't equal confrontation,

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then things could change.

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But there was one more layer to this and

it was also about he didn't like people

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getting upset with him He didn't want

to see someone hurt or upset and again,

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there's there's there's a there's a very

human loveliness to that But who says

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you're going to upset someone by being

truthful or saying what you need to say?

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There's a way to do it, but if you

start to believe that I'll upset

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them, there's another layer to this.

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It's because it's my fault

was Stephen's problem.

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He has on this negative belief

that if someone was upset, he

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would be the cause of the upset.

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And hence, don't want to upset

anybody, get people pleasing.

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So keeping an eye on this.

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Avoiding confrontation, finger of a blame

pointing at you to being upsetting people.

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This is normally built on our

early childhood experience.

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So we need to get up to date.

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How you communicate with people.

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How you understand that

you can say yes and no.

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But separating out the fact

that if someone gets upset,

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they get upset perhaps.

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But be careful of not assuming

that's always going to happen.

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Because it probably isn't.

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And then there's some space.

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So rather than people pleasing,

you can be really kind and generous

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and yet really clear with people.

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And that's a beautiful way to be.

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So

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Sal: that's one level.

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Now you might have heard of fawning.

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Fawning, uh, fawn like a baby deer is,

um, a term that's used now, as with a lot

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of terms, to describe complex behaviours,

but fawning is another one where it's

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really another term of people pleasing.

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What I think is interesting when we, when

we look at this angle, is really what

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we're saying is, I'm getting triggered

into a threat response so I'd rather

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say yes and I'd rather people please

and I'd rather do what other people

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want because they're more important

but that's because you feel a threat

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so we're getting triggered so we have

a neurological response fight or flight

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if it's fawning you're going into flight

you are wanting to get away from the

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problem and most of this is happening

below consciousness so we're not overtly

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thinking about this it's all very subtle

in our mind body system but you're being

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triggered You feel there's a threat.

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And

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Sal: of course, if you have a

high bias to flight response, you

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want to get away from the problem.

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And then if we think of our beautiful

form being chased through the woods

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by a predator, you know, that's scary.

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We don't want to spend

our life being chased.

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So if we're always in a flight

response, there's also the beautiful.

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Seemingly the beginning pattern

of people pleasing to avoid him.

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That works occasionally, but most

of the time it's maladaptive.

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Because what people pleasing does

is you're just avoiding the issue.

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Which is another flight response.

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So to solve that way of dealing

with potential challenges...

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It's about moving towards the

problem, A, a fight response.

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So not actually fighting, but

moving towards the problem.

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And this is a very different thing.

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So if you're asked to do something

and you don't want to do it, and

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you're getting triggered and you

think you're gonna form the whole

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thing out, oh, you're making excuses.

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Notice you're being in,

pushing into a flight response.

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Pause, breathe, feel your body.

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Notice that you probably are more

capable than you believe, and

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you can move toward that problem.

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which means you can find ways

and strategies to solve it.

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That immediately starts to

dissolve this fawning pattern.

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People pleasing as the strategy

will probably drop away because

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instead of people pleasing,

you'll be problem solving.

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So it becomes quite an elegant shift.

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And I know many people listen to my

podcast and many people that I coach are

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highly intelligent and very skillful.

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So if you can adopt the problem

solving behavioural stance, then

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you, by default, already transition,

shift out of people pleasing.

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So this is a really,

really, really big one.

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I've pushed this a lot because

when we don't understand our

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neurological state, we do patterns.

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Know your neurological state.

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Fight, Flight, or Flow or

Freeze, whichever one you're in,

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then you can work differently.

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So there's a really important one.

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And, and finally, it's, there

are other layers to this.

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So there's cultural layers, there's

family layers, depending on how you've

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been brought up in the world and what

kind of families you've been brought in.

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There are all sorts of learnings

that we've learned that mean it's

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not okay to speak up, or you have

to be subservient to another.

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And these are, these are, these can be

difficult, but recognize that perhaps

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they may also be past biased, which

means if you were brought up in a

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particular culture or family which said

you couldn't speak up and you had to

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always do what everyone else said, then

if you're an adult and if you're in the

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perhaps hopefully the free world where

you can be who you are, notice that

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that shadow doesn't want to be chasing

you down the road and all shadows.

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are just an absence of light.

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So bring light to your awareness

that you can make choices now.

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And catch operating from the

version of you are today.

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Notice that fight response

and flight response.

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But then come into the present.

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You know, be a, be a present person.

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And if those old past patterns are

still there, notice them gently.

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But realize that past lives in the past.

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It can only become present

when you bring it forward.

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So simple, not easy.

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As all this work I do is, is it's

often simplicity, which is elegance,

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but it doesn't mean it's easy.

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So with that conscious shift,

you can also let go of perhaps

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those cultural family biases.

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And last thing I want to say

is You know, low self worth is

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cited in people pleasing a lot.

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We don't feel good about ourselves.

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Um, I'm not good enough.

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Any of these kind of statements,

if you say them, it's kind of in

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there, it's the self, it's the low

self worth trigger point, you want

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to look at that, but is it true?

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You know, I find it fascinating that

we, including myself, have all these

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beliefs, which run our life, and we

sometimes don't stop and go, hang

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on a minute, is that actually true?

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And then you can start to almost like

I do, I kind of laugh at that belief.

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It's simply not true.

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I've done loads of great things.

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I've got a friendship group.

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I've got successful business.

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I'm a great parent.

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Whatever it is you are skillful and

good at, then we can start to challenge

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the I'm not good enough narrative,

which is also low self worth and

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start to find worth, find value.

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Look for where you have value.

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Guarantee you have plenty, but where you

put your attention is where it will show.

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So look at where you have value,

wherever you're doing well in your life.

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And it could be small stuff.

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You might think, Oh, you know, I'm,

I'm only a parent, which I would say

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is a huge job to bring up a child.

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It's an incredible job to do that.

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Well, Oh, I run a small

business, but you run a business.

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Look at where you have value and

own it because low self worth

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again can be a trick of the mind.

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It can be.

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Archaeology from the past.

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It could be someone else's stuff.

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Build the bank of you by knowing your

value, by looking at where you're doing

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well and even the small pieces, you

know, collect them up and aggregate them.

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Hey, that's what saving is about, right?

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So I hope these, uh, some, some

of the overarching points for

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people pleasing have been able to

be insightful, get you thinking.

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Get you freed up from it and maybe if

you're, if there's some area that I

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haven't touched on that you think, Oh,

you know, people pleasing and really

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think sounds kind of got my point,

reach out, you know, drop me a question

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because there are so many nuances in,

but the themes of this, looking at, um,

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Not wanting to upset people, looking

at the subtle belief of you think it's

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your fault, looking at that flight

response and trying to get away from the

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problem and looking at low self worth.

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These cover almost all of the

expressions of people pleasing.

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So then you can go around being

authentic and you can be lovely as

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a person and you can still say no.

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You can be a really effective

human being and you can turn down

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things without upsetting anyone.

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So people pleasing is

then starts to drop away.

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So let me know how you get on.

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As always, you can reach

out to me via my website.

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Drop me a message via email on

the, on the, on the contact page.

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You can contact me on the

socials, which if you're seeing

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this on, drop me a comment.

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Um, it's a big one.

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And I really hope that

this is helpful for you.

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So, um, please, uh, be

pleased, but not please others.

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Okay.

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I'll talk to you on the next one.

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Take care.

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Thank you so much for listening.

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If you enjoyed the

episode, please subscribe.

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And if a friend would benefit from hearing

this, do send it on to them as well.

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If you would like to get in touch

yourself, then you can go to my website.

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Which is Sal Jeffries dot com,

spelt S A L J E F F E R I E S.

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Sal Jeffries dot com.

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Hit the get in touch link and there

you can send me a direct message.

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If you'd like to go one step further

and learn whether coaching can help

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you overcome a challenge or a block

in your life, then do reach out and

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I offer a call where we can discuss

how this may be able to help you.

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Until the next time, take care.

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About the Podcast

Mindset, Mood & Movement
Human performance podcast for life and business
Feeling stuck, stressed and exhausted is bad for you, your health and your business. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

Sal Jefferies is a coach who helps founders overcome anxiety, build confidence and become healthy. This podcast will help you feel calm, confident and strong in life and business.

Sal has a unique coaching philosophy which integrates psychology, emotional regulation and embodied action. This podcast aims to share knowledge, skill and strategies from these 3 interwoven areas - mindset, mood & movement.

Each fortnight, Sal will be in conversation with a guest from a specialist field of human performance and behaviour. The week in between will be Sal's own shorter episode where he's goes deep into various topics - all created to give you the tools to become calm, confident & strong.


About your host

Profile picture for Sal Jefferies

Sal Jefferies

I believe in helping people become free - free of anxiety; to be authentic; to not worry of what others think of you. Free to create, to love and free to be calm, confident and strong.

I understand what it’s like to find life difficult, to deal with challenges and to feel lost; that’s why I over the last 15 years I have immersed myself in yoga, psychology and human behaviour. I have been on a journey of deep change and growth and I know at the core of most life choices is the desire for freedom and peace. I work with people who think deeply and feel deeply and looking to change, evolve and grow.

I don’t take myself too seriously and I bring a light and positive energy to my work. When I’m not coaching, I love reading and learning about anything to do with the human experience. I am also super active and movement is a big part of my life - running, swimming, strength training, doing yoga or enjoying being out with my dogs.